I’ve written about this before. But some things are worth repeating.
Hi, I’m the Functional Lunatic and I consider myself crazy. Before I get started, let me pause briefly and thank Bobbi Carducci for allowing me to tell my story to her loyal readers on the Schizophrenic Writer and offer condolences for her recent loss, which was so inspiringly documented here on this site over the last week.
The way I stay sane is by creating. This isn’t an original story, although I used to think it was until I started reading other WordPress blogs, especially those tagged as “writing”. Anyone sampling those myriad posts can see that my story is actually a common struggle.
Some call it a mental condition, others schizophrenia, others an imbalance, some crazy. The point is, there is a common feeling that resembles severe unrest when the creative don’t create. I expect there may be variations on my descriptions of this feeling, but I’m fairly certain the thread running through the middle of this is, interestingly, quite common.
In a dormant phase where new ideas aren’t coming, it feels OK to not be creating. It is only when a forced dormancy is unwillingly placed upon me that the internal chaos begins. At these times, I have ideas; my mind is in that creative state yet, for various reasons, I am unable to get the ideas, concepts or music into a finished state. The constraints may be everyday life, other commitments or my day job.
The remedy is creation of output AND delivery of a completed product. Until I have that, I’m basically insane with a desire and need to belch forth my burgeoning byproduct, my overripe harvest. This is why it is so difficult for me to write novels, even though I have completed 4 of them. From concept through draft, edit, re-draft, re-edit, re-read, re-edit, etc. it is a very exacting time for me, aside from the normal struggles required by this Herculean effort of novel writing.
I’m concluding that I’m not very unique from thousands, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands of people out there. We are all deep within cycles of uneasy creation, dormancy, uneasy creation, completion, dormancy. And there are undoubtedly implications and impacts on our families. They deserve a lot of credit in their patience with us. To help our families, I have created firm guidelines around doing this properly. This is obviously a tongue-in-cheek letter from the creative to the loved ones, but with a whiff of sincerity deep below the sarcasm.
So what does it all mean? Are we wired differently? Are we more like the mentally challenged or the mentally proficient? Are we more at risk for certain socially unacceptable behaviors or psychological struggles? If so, what can we do about it…other than to continue abetting the beast sitting on our shoulders forcing us to continue creating through rejection, through celebration, through neglectful nugatory?
Will it ever stop?
Do we want it to stop?
As usual, more answers beget more questions. For now, I personally take little solace in the discovery that I’m not alone. In this case, company does not breed comfort. It doesn’t help my anxieties or my social shortcomings. All it does is make me feel less unique. Because before, I did take solace in the idea that I was different. My idea was, “OK, I may be weird, but I’d rather be weird and unique than plain vanilla and boring.” When my wife used to complain about my weirdness (at one point I insisted on wearing a cowboy hat around the house, and I’m not from anywhere near Texas or anything close to a cowboy), I told her not to worry. “It will pay off someday,” I told her. Being a weird writer helps. But now I see that most every other creative person and writer is weird – which really means my competition just went through the roof. I’d almost be better off as a non-weird writer. If I was, would I be better or worse?
Again, more questions, less answers.
So for now, I’ll just concentrate on being me…and dealing with that. Understanding my moods helps; writing about my moods helps.
It’s not a burden, it’s a gift.
Yes, I think I still see it as a gift.
- Explaining creativity to a Martian (boingboing.net)
- Notes from the Master – On Writing Weird Fiction by H.P. Lovecraft from Rule of the Dice (ruleofthedice.com)