Readers Who are Krazy for Kindle

November 14, 2011

So writers are a little crazy. A little. We have to be, I think, in order to process all the wonderment (or horror) that exists in our imaginations. The good news: If we're writing about hatchet-wielding psychos, then we are not wielding said hatchets ourselves. See? Crazy enough to WRITE about it, not crazy enough to DO it.

There are always exceptions, of course.

You know that whole thing where someone somewhere said "If you think you're crazy then you're not because you're entertaining the possibility that you are." (Did you get that?) I dunno. I've been in conversations where I've said, "But that's not really crazy, right?" and had people look at me and say, "Hell, yes, that's psycho. What's WRONG with you?" It should be noted these people were not writers. If you have that same conversation with a writer, the writer responds, "Crazy? Not nearly enough. Now, if you were to take acid and pour it over the body... ."

I love writers. But being a writer is kinda like being a zombie. If you're a zombie and you're shuffling along with other zombies, you're not going to get your face eaten off. If you're a pretender and we figure it out, we're taking you down and ripping off appendages.

Um, let me clarify that analogy.

We understand our own kind. We do not always understand other people. Nor do other people always understand us. That's why most writers are friends with other writers, or with readers (who may not write, but the love what writing creates, so they get to be zombies, too). Sometimes, we have to have to non-creatives in our lives (marrying someone who uses logic and budgets and lies to us about what time we're supposed to be somewhere so we arrive when we're supposed to, for instance) to balance us.

The crazy gives us the gift, you see, but it also asks a blood price. If you're a writer and you are immersed in your world, especially because you're on a deadline, you drown in it. You emerge from a writing marathon with your hair sticking up because you grabbed it so many times while trying to get your brain to kick in, and you're wearing a stained T-shirt and sweatpants you don't remember putting on, and your breath smells like death, and your fingers are cramped from typing and clutching a coffee mug 72 times every hour.

Then you walk around your house muttering, holding that empty, crusted coffee mug, not knowing what day it is or when you last showered, and your family scatters in all directions because you have "that look." When in this state, not even your dogs will greet you. They're cowering under a bed somewhere because at some point during your creative-making, you shouted, "MUTHAFUCKINGSTUPIDASSBOOKIWILLKILLYOUFUCKING ... oh, wait, I know what to do." And they yipped out of your office like their asses were on fire because "mommy done lost her mind."

Crazy can bleed out into reality. If you take a look at the lives of some writers, you'll note multiple marriages, alcoholism and drug addictions, sex scandals, and other self-destructive dramas. There is this roller coaster of emotion that we find ourselves on ... riding it for all it's worth because we need the experiences, the darkness, the wildness, the highs and lows. We need them to write. Our imaginations can come up with a lot of scenarios. And research can brings us the information we need to write about occupations and settings. But at the end of the day, we have to make those emotional connections that breathe life into our characters. We have to have that scarred, screwed-up place inside of us so we can create flawed, but sympathetic protagonists, and almost sympathetic, highly motivated villains, and emotionally wrought scenes that wound and cut and bleed.

And because we have that crazy inside of us, we need other people who will hold our hands and slap us out of the stupor and stick a ladder inside the hole we crawled inside. We need other writers and readers and even those non-creatives to keep us from picking up the hatchet for real. Just sayin'.

So, what are your thoughts about the writer-crazy?