Monday, July 4, 2011

The Insanity We Fight

Are authors even a little bit insane?

Um, you know the saying, only truly insane people don’t know they’re insane. So, if I said “No, of course authors aren’t insane,” would you believe me? And if I said, “Why yes, as a matter of fact, we are insane,” then you would know we really aren’t.

Wait, is this a trick question?

Seriously, though, the question does beg an answer. I mean, how many people walk around creating make-believe people in their minds? And then creating a make-believe world for those people to live in? We have conversations with our imaginary friends, we dress them in the morning, give them a job to go to, a house to live in, a family to love or hate, and a past to embrace or run from. And what does the future hold for our characters? Well, only we know and only we get to decide their fate.

Here’s my theories. If authors aren’t insane we must be just on the brink of it and writing fiction is our way of waylaying the inevitable plunge into that otherworld of the mind. It’s our outlet. Without our stories we may just do the very things we make our characters do. And that could be bad. Very bad. Especially when you write suspense and your villain is a psycho-maniacal windbag with an obsession with clowns.

If we’re not insane then we must suffer from a god complex. We need to be in control; we need to be calling the shots. And since that rarely happens in our own world we need to create one where our every whim and fancy is obeyed. Where we are all-powerful, all-knowing, and omni-present.

Now for the truth of the matter. Authors aren’t insane. Well, maybe some are, but most aren’t. What we have is a desire (maybe even a need) to create. Man has been endowed by our Creator with a tendency to create. Look around you: The buildings, the cars, the infrastructure, the art. Listen to the music we produce. We’re creators by nature. Authors simply find a different and unique way to express that attribute.

So really, we’re not insane. I’m not insane. I’m not insane. I’m not insane.

What do you think? Are authors insane? Why do feel this need to create? To make up these stories and put them on paper?


Bruce Hennigan said...

I've always maintained that normal is boring. So why be normal? For me, it's because I can't be normal. I'm always looking around me at people, places, things, situations and I am always speculating "what if?" and writing bits and pieces of story. I am a physician by trade and when another physician asks me what I think about, let's say an MRI (since I am a radiologist) I give the answer in story format!
So, what is wrong with me? I think God gave me some kind of weird talent to tell stories. The times that I have been most insane is when I GIVE UP WRITING FOREVER! My wife would then beg me; get the typewriter out of the garbage; reinstall my word processor; plead with me to start writing again. Yes, I think writers are a little on the questionable side, but for me, writing keeps me sane. I can't not write!
Having said that, there are times when I am writing and indulging my imagination and the story is FLOWING and suddenly I'm not here in this world anymore. My wife has to wave a hand in front of my face, or pry the sword out of my hand (the one in a wolf's head cane I bought to inspire my second book) and bring me back to reality. And even then, for hours afterwards even when I re-enter the real world there are echoes of my characters and their dialogue and the shadows of the world calling to me from the computer screen. Is that insane? If so, I can accept it. I guess writing keeps me functionally sane!
Isn't that right, Bruce? Yeah, that's right, Bruce. Thank you, Bruce. You're welcome, now can we get back to the werewolf in the cave? Sorry, guys. Gotta go!

Mike Dellosso said...

Thank you, Bruce! Good to know I'm not alone.

Jillian Kent said...

I love this post! And Bruce, I can tell you are one of us, the pod creatures. :)Welcome to our world, you'll fit in beautifully.:)

I talk about this all the time and I'm a licensed social worker employed as a counselor. My nursing students are sure to wonder about me these days since the first book came out. I explore lunatic asylums and the treatment of the mentally ill in Regency England all under the guise of romance. :)

When you guys get a look at book 2 next year I'm afraid my secret will be out. :)

We're not insane, we're just creative, imaginative, and we need our imaginary friends because we don't have enough time in reality for many of our day to day friends because we're so busy with the one's in our heads.

Now there's an issue for me. I can't spend enough time with my real friends because I'm too busy with my unreal friends. Hmm. I think that may come under the heading of psychosis in the DSM.

Mike Dellosso said...

Jillian, unfortunately, I hear you loud and clear. That time thing keeps pestering me too.