We’re all mad here

 

Writers are a mad lot.  I doubt you’ll find anyone to refute that statement. When you sit next to a stranger and they ask what you do, and you say ‘I’m a writer,’ you’ll probably experience one of three reactions:

1. They will smile, say that’s nice, and change the subject.

2. They’ll say ‘Really? Me too!’ and you’ll have an instant friend.

3. They run away screaming.

There are several symptoms of being a writer (well, more than several, but I haven’t enough room or gigabytes to write them all here).

• You will be awakened in the middle of the night by a character announcing themselves very loudly on the doorstep of your brain, demanding to be let in.  You have no choice but to acquiesce, and spend the rest of the sleepless night brainstorming his or her story.

• You find yourself analyzing every movie you watch and book you read – and the more you do this, the faster you figure out the plot. (It’s actually a tad bit annoying – I happen to like surprises!)

• You take strange statements to be compliments. For example, my brother once remarked “You know, no offense, but you writers are weird.” I beamed an ear-splitting grin the entire drive home.

• Your brain automatically saves anything of interest – lines, sub-plots, characters – from anything and everything, and they manifest themselves later in your literary endeavors.

• You realize that you know more about human nature than other people. You’ve seen, to paraphrase what Jenny put so eloquently, through the eyes of the hero and the faerie. You know what goes on inside people’s heads. You know how they feel when someone says something wounding, you know someone is smiling like nothing’s wrong, even if everything is – you know full well the power of words.

• Every actor, singer, and celebrity in general that you see becomes a  ‘possible character model.’

 • If you see the word ‘writing,’ ‘writer,’ ‘author,’ ‘pen’ ‘book’ ‘novel’ ‘story’ or any other word pertaining to our craft, you instantly stop and backtrack to see if it was an article of interest.

• You find that your mind wanders more and you forget things. I have a theory – and I am not alone in thinking it – that this is because our brains are too full of the cosmos inside, spinning with ideas and characters and plots and subplots and lines and situations and costumes and details and POV’s and books that most information we receive tends to leak out drains marked ‘Unimportant.’ (Which is, of course, very handy for a writer, but awful for life skills.)

I know some people who say they’re writers, but I know they’re not. Just because someone picks up a pen – or a pencil, or a keyboard – and writes something doesn’t make them a writer. ‘Writer’ is a title that only happens after you become so emotionally attached and entangled with that part of you that you are inseparable, and know you always will be. Being a real writer involves being a real reader.

 When the death – or pain, or grief – of a beloved character wrenches your heart and cascades tears down your face. When the laugh – or smile, or sigh – of a character makes you laugh, or smile, or sigh along with them. When you see the hero’s flaws and the villain’s heroic aspects, but still see the hero and villain for what they truly are. When you root for the dark horse, the underdog, chanting “Win! Win! Win!” even if he has no chance, because you love him. You love her. When you stay up far too late at night, turning page after page of a life story that is not yours, but enriches yours beyond measure. You feel your heart break at the death of someone you loved; someone made of words and images who may not be flesh and blood, but is still just as real. You laugh and cry and might even write some fanfiction to fix a sad ending or put two people together you knew were intended for one another or just to make yourself smile. And you finally close the  book and put it back on the shelf, come back to reality, and smile because your reality is made all the better for that little world closed between a cover and a back that sits amid other little worlds. And you tell everyone you meet about that journey and the people you met and the villains you fought and heroes you loved and friends who died and the person will look at you and ask when this happened and you stop and blink and say “Oh… it was all in a book I just read.” And you sit back and look out the window and smile to yourself, because they will never understand. But you do.

And you open another world.

Or better yet?

You write one.

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23 thoughts on “We’re all mad here

  1. ❤ So very true. You struck at the core of what real writers are and do–especially the bit about better understanding people because you write, and analyzing characters and stories.

    (And your reason why we tend to be forgetful reminded me of a consulting detective we both know and love saying that "this is my hard drive," and that he only keeps necessary things on it.)

    And isn't it funny how writers almost instantly bond with each other? "Friendship is formed at that moment when one says, 'You too? I thought I was the only one!'" ~C.S. Lewis.

    We're all mad here…but isn't that the best way to be? Mad with the stories of another world, another age, living out the lives of too many people to number, spending days in a blue mood because a favorite character died, latching onto a new character and spending hours discovering their personality, noticing the little things that others pass by–the sunrise, a faint rainbow in the clouds, the bitterness of a forced smile, the beauty of a birdsong.

    I'm rather glad I am part of this mad crowd.

    • If I could hug that comment, put it in a jar, and save it, I would. YES YES YES YES YES!!! We ‘delete’ things, we love things, we live the best lives ever =) =) How happy are we, us Mad Writers! ^.^

  2. sí, oui, ie, ναί, a thousand times YES. writing (though I’m not the best at it let me add) and reading, surprise midnight visits, analyzing plot lines, saving everything that has to do with writing, ‘deleting’ the unimportant, knowing people better because you know characters, loving the characters, laughing and crying with them. This is my life 🙂 and YES to Keaghan for putting it so wonderful- it is a beautiful, mad life. I know some people who think my life must be very boring, when in reality I think I have much more exciting days then them because I get to enjoy little things they don’t.

  3. This is a beautiful post. 🙂

    I love everything you said here. It’s all very true, especially the bit about being a reader to be a writer. When I told one of my friends that she couldn’t read my NaNo10, she just huffed, and then said, “Well, then, I’m going to write a book, and I won’t let YOU read it.” But she’s not the kind of person who reads constantly. She gave up on her story within a few days. She never brings a book to all her classes– just the one she has to. I always tote a book around with me, even if I don’t know if I’ll read it. It’s like a safety blanket, knowing that wherever you go, you’ll have something to do, and friends to listen to.

    This is off that topic, but still on the topic of writing. Once, I slept on the floor, because I was ‘curious to know how my characters felt’. My mom just shook her head and laughed. I collect quotes in my head– and sometimes on paper– that I love, plot lines that intrigue me, and what people look like, so as to maybe create a character someday.

    Also, I love this bit– “2. They’ll say ‘Really? Me too!’ and you’ll have an instant friend.”– because it’s true. When you meet someone who’s a writer, you instantly bond, and have something in common.

    And now, because this comment is long and ramble-y, I’m going to end it. 😉

    -Sofie

    p.s. Have you seen this video? It’s about books, and is super sweet. And it’s one of five animated short films that will be considered for outstanding film achievements of 2011 in the Academy Awards. It’s 15 minutes long, so pretty long. But you have to watch it. ❤

  4. Agreed wholeheartedly. I say that my mind is a helium balloon and sometimes I let go of the string…those days can be good or bad, depending on how much homework I have to do.

  5. This post deserves a HUGE, hearty round of cyber applause, Earwen. Being a writer consumers almost everything about my personalty, I’ve perfected the skill of totally drifting off into another world or period of history and into a world of my own where characters run quite rampant through my head(it’s awful hard to pull out again). I love the art of making people laugh, cry, or smile (hopefully) while they read the words the came out of my head. But it’s not my story really, no matter how much I might like to think that, it belongs to my people, and whether the listen or not, that’s the question ;).
    Most of my closest friends are writers, or dreamers who have a tough time getting the writing out, but they persevere and do it anyways, and some pretty good writing it turns out to be too. Ambitions have practically gone down the ‘unimportant’ drain, my only real dream is to be an authoress, and an artist-and earn a living off it-I know, next to impossible, right?
    So yes, we are a very mad, eccentric, and weird group of people…but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way 😉

  6. ❤ ❤ <3! All of it! 🙂 I used to write… now I'm a writer, and there is definitely a difference! Particularly what you said about the cosmos inside our brains… It's sooo fun to live in two worlds at once, but the forgetting things can be a problem. 😛 lol

    Particularly in college, which is at the moment eating me alive – not fun when I am dying to read the story you sent me! But I will read it soon and get back to you. 🙂

  7. Mirriam: God blessed a certain amount of people to know the right words and to not be afraid to speak them. I am glad He included you in this list! Through creativity, you bind writers together, even if we are a very, terribly, mad lot. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  8. Come to think of it, Earwen, did you ever finish that secret agent story you had up at one point? In all honesty, I forget it’s title, but I highly enjoyed it and wanted to see how the story ended…could you…by any chance, send it to me over email (I think you have my address), please? I know it’s a lot to ask, but I seriously want to read it again. 🙂

  9. She may be talking ArchAngel, but I’M talking UNIIIIIIIIITTT!!! *shakes fist*
    You BAD man! How COULD you abandon Vick like that!? *hires a second assassin*
    Watch out – he’s coming with eyeliner, spiked hair, a Victorian style gentleman’s shirt, and a SWITCHBLADE. *nods head*
    Go get’em, my Dragon. ^_^ (Don’t worry – Viktor will follow shortly. You’ll get to meet him before you breathe your last.)

  10. I do think you’ve said it all, including my way of life.
    One day i’ll be gone and I want to leave something behind that will allow people to understand what I was, and what I laughed at, like I understand long gone authors. I think I’ll start another book (maybe a fiction?). And I’m already excited to wright again.

    Btw I still read your blog.

  11. Pingback: Hello « Thoughts of a Shieldmaiden

  12. Yes, I either finish a good books smiling because of its awesomeness… or I feel like crying because it’s over. I think only reader-writers can come out of a happy ending crying sad. Actually, that does sound rather mad, but very true. 😉

    Such a true post!

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