05 October 2014

Being a Writer, Er, Being Bat-Shit Crazy

"See, I can write well, but I'm not a writer. The difference is, you are compelled to write, and I have to be compelled to write." - Kensey Alsman, sometime, somewhere, probably at a bar. 

I have this incredibly talented daughter, who at the age of two, would sit for hours and color and cut and paste and make stuff. She did not choose, at that age, to be an artist, she just is and always has been. Being a writer is mostly the same thing.

I don't think that anyone chooses to be a writer. We are, in general, some pretty goddamned disturbed people. Consider Hemingway, Poe, Hunter Thompson, and countless others, all mostly fucked in the head. 

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."-George Orwell

Another writer, E.L. Doctorow, compared writing to "a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia," which is almost true. Writing is almost like hearing voices, except they're speaking very softly in a language I don't speak. 

I spend days, weeks sometimes, existing on an hour or two of sleep a night staring at a blank Microsoft Word page-arguably because I am also batshit crazy- but also because something in me is working on making its way out. Words, phrases, images, ideas and sometimes just the impressions of ideas highjack my brain and they won't shut the fuck up until I figure out how to get them out. Sometimes, oftentimes really, they're shit when they do come out, but at least they're out and that restless feeling ebbs for a week or two.

And then, if a writer is really unlucky, someone tells them that they're good at it. Now, the almost-voices are not only demanding to be interpreted, they expect to be interpreted well. 

It's not that I have anything truly profound to share with the world. Everyone has a story, or stories. The difference, I guess, is that mine keep trying to come to life in my head.

I suppose the entire point of this post is just to say, if there were such things as muses? They'd be fucking assholes.