Thursday, July 10, 2008

Writing Is Just Another Word for Insanity

It's now late at night, and I am just now realizing that writing books is just a defensible, excusable way to cover for being crazy. Looney. Insane. The talking to the people in my head kind of thing that puts people in years of psychotherapy with prescription pills on the side.

I have relationships with people that don't exist.

It's true. It's late and I can hardly wait to wave my husband off to bed and settle down with my new friends: the characters in my books. As Babs would say, "Lord have mercy!" These people are real to me! When something sad happens to Babs, I feel sad. When Babs is determined and plowing through life with the kind of gusto I wish I had, I am empowered. When she feels overwhelmed and wants to crawl into a ball in the corner and close her eyes and wish life away, I feel that way too. It seems sometimes that the only time my life that is completely my own is when I vacation from writing.

I long for their company. I can't wait until Logan shows up because I am like a giddy school girl around him. He is rebellious and brilliant and completely a surprise. And I never know what color his Mohawk is going to be. And I loathed the appearance of the church ladies until today, when I got a glimpse of what they are going to be, and how they are going to totally be the saving grace the Babcocks need, and now suddenly I see them with entirely new eyes. And I feel all motherly with Ashley. And I am over the moon excited that she gets to be the guinea pig that changes the face of diabetes.

And sometimes, when I talk about these people, I think about the characters I left behind. I think of Caroline and Tate and Nathan, who are languishing with the dust bunnies waiting for me to decide if I think their story is worth taking out again and struggling to make more salable. My heart actually aches for them, the same way it aches for my real friends that have somehow slipped away over time and distance, and I am almost desperate not to lost them the way I have lost others. I want their stories to matter. And I ache for Tate, who is the best of the lot, and got the rawest deal.

And even as my heart hurts, I realize I am crazy. This is insanity. They are words on a page. Figments of my imagination.

I keep telling myself this. In time, I might believe it's true.


  1. I wouldn't bother. They are just as real as anyone else.

    Not to mess with your head at this late hour, but what if you are someone's dream? Ever see that movie Stranger than Fiction? A little dramatized, but still.

    You are doing good, they are doing good...nobody's telling you to top someone else, so...

    And besides, if you're nuts then I am too. The voice that talks to me in my head right now is a Dwarf. How random is that????

    And I don't know anything about Logan.....(such a hunky name!!)

  2. I've battled this my whole life, as you saw in my bio. I've always created people, scenarios and just thought "I'll keep this to myself. I'm crazy and I don't want to be committed."

    Then I realized it was just art - writing - taking form. So now I embrace it.

    You are very lucky to have that connection with your characters - many writers struggle to have that. This makes your writing all the better - because if the character is REAL to you, it will be REAl to the reader.

  3. I SOOOOO loved the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Brilliant! I watched the entire thing thinking, "I wish I'd thought of this!"

    The most reassuring thing I've learned this year is that I'm not alone. If anything, this quirky relationship with non-people reaffirms that I am a writer, because I have heard so many writers say this. Still, it does feel a bit wacky sometimes!

    Logan is the coolest. Have I not sent much with him yet? He doesn't surface early, and he's a bit lazy in developing (in a good, grow on you kind of way). You'll see him more soon.

  4. Oh yeah, I'm crazy too and I'm now totally okay with it.

    I just 100% totally agree with every single thing you wrote here. Except I already have a couple of prescriptions. I plan to keep writing down the voices; that way I'll look productive rather than bat-crazy nutso, needing a fitting for a nice white jacket with wraparound arms.

    I have lots of people in my head, not including my many facets of my own personality, so it gets pretty crowded in there. I'd explode if I couldn't get it all out. Like, Mom, get down off the roof and quit howling, kind of explode.

    I mean, could be fun, but writing's better. A quieter kind of insanity!

  5. Heidi- you always have a way of stating things that makes me laugh!