‘Losing’ Your Mind

Posted in On writing, Writers at 10:05 am by Marion

Talking with a neighbor yesterday afternoon I found myself going on a bit (too much probably) about what it’s like to write and why writers have a reputation for irritability and depression. Not making excuses here, and if you’ve read FD for awhile this won’t be news, but writing means going in a dark Alice-in-Wonderland hole and staying there until you basically go mad.

The good news is that once you lose your mind, you’ll probably get some decent writing done. You pretty much have to dissociate from this world to create another, fictional one. Now most of the time when you’re done writing — a few weeks or months later, or when you finish the piece, story or novel — you climb back out of the hole and rejoin the world.

This process takes place with varying degrees of success. If I’m spending several hours a day writing, especially on the novel, it’s very hard to go into the world. Sort of like when you spend several days in the woods camping and come out and go to a buffet restaurant and everyone there is a space alien talking way too loud.

If you spend days and even years working on fiction, each sentence, each chapter, is crafted to your aesthetic ideal. Just the right verb describes what people do; the perfect color tints the perfect sky.

Now jump out of fiction into the world, and you see crappy streets, infantile attitudes, self-centeredness and short-sightedness. Sure, these things exist in fiction, but they’re idealized!!!!

So this morning I’m working on a short story and commentary … trying to stay a little grounded, but not too much. After all, who doesn’t think more clearly from their hole underground.

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