It’s been said that if you wonder whether you’re nuts, you’re probably not.
I wonder if that’s true.
What about those of us who spend inordinate amounts of time wondering just what brand of crazy we are?
Writing demands a big ol’ truckload of crazy to start out with. Who in her right mind, after all, would sit in a silent room day after day, pulling people out of the air, marching them through the unexpected (and also wholly made-up) turns of their lives? Who would suffer the anxieties of a chapter that refuses to go smoothly? Who would set herself up for the tortures of rejection and indifference?
We do. All those things. Every day. Is that true crazy—or merely useful crazy?
I’ve mused before in this space about the fine line between oughtta-do-it and gotta-do-it; the involuntary place in which a writer dwells, unable to imagine doing anything else. But what is the nature of it?
The companionability of the writing process is built into us…crazy in its compulsiveness, as inescapable as an addiction. Is the unwillingness to break from its black-hole gravity the crazy part? Or is it merely evidence of a choice? Is useful-crazy the rationalization we make for being truly nutso?
Being a writer looms large in me. It blots out the sun, sometimes. I find myself, on occasion, pushing fleshandblood people away when they threaten my time with the written ones. I am jealous of my characters’ company; these are friendships I am not always willing to share. If I make the choice to spend the time in the silence of their collective presence, which crazy is that? When the story fulfills me more than human relationships do, where am I in the grand scheme of my sanity?
These are questions that are safe to ask only in the daylight hours, with the strength of full energy to carry me. Comes the twilight, another matter. That’s where the doubts come. The paralysis of helplessness; the truer crazy. We rationalize best in sunshine. In dark, we fear; we are closer to true crazy.
Maybe true crazy is the state one doesn’t question. But I can tell you this: It’s a helluva lot less fun.