We get paid for this.
The truth is, though, I actually think I'm pretty sane...more or less, anyway. Of course, the reason I am sane, in my opinion, is that I do write fiction. I think if I didn't have a means of plunging those depths in a (reasonably) safe and socially-acceptable way, I'd be almost unbearable to live with. In fact, one person I lived with told me I was unbearable to live with when I wasn't writing. He was the one who first pointed this whole thing out to me, in that, whenever we got into some pointless argument about something or another, he would pause at one point, think for a minute, then say,
"Wait. Have you written anything today?"
Usually my stumped silence was answer enough. He would then point me towards my office, and say something along the lines of,
"We'll continue this conversation in two hours...if it's still relevant."
I'm embarrassed to admit, it never was.
So yeah, you might think we writers are all nuts. But think of the alternative...writers who don't write...and be thankful that we have found a nice, healthy way to channel the demons that live in our collective closets. I can't help but wonder what a Stephen King or a Dean Koontz would have been like, had they not figured out that writing was a good outlet for them.
Actually, I don't really have to wonder...I know what I would be like, multiply that by a factor of ten, and just shudder a little, thankful for the invention of the printing press.
I'm honestly not sure if that means your average writer has more skeletons in the closet than other people, and thus a greater need for a means of siphoning off the excess. It's possible, sure. It does seem like a disproportionate number of us have had some pretty intense things happen in our lives, both of the good and the bad variety, both self-inflicted and inflicted by the world. Maybe our filters are thinner than most people's, or our ability to repress is less finely tuned. Maybe we have really good memories, like Ray Bradbury claimed the last time I heard him speak, where he detailed memories of being a baby and how he didn't realize how odd it was that he could remember such things until his mother told him to stop telling other people that he could. Maybe we're like high-functioning schizophrenics, and we've just learned how to manage whatever it is that other people seem to keep in check so effortlessly. Maybe we all got dropped on the head as infants...I honestly don't know.
Whatever the reason, I feel like in some ways, I get the best of both worlds, at least on the good days...and even sometimes the bad. After all, I get a safe, contained outlet for all of the depraved, dark, crazy, angry, devious, spiteful, villainous and oversexed parts of my psyche. I get an outlet for the heroic, optimistic, faithful, loving, yearning, happy, spiritual, philosophical, idealistic, analytical and altruistic sides of my nature, as well.
I get to explore all of it, and as long as I do it in this one way, I can do it to a depth that I might not dare to indulge in otherwise.
Afterwards, I can also write it all off, figuratively and literally, as "just a story" and not think about it again. It doesn't stay with me, not once I've written it down, so it doesn't get stuck in those less oft-used parts of my cranium, moldering and turning septic. Instead, it remains fluid, impermanent and always-changing, a part of the collective human experience rather than something that belongs to me, personally. It no longer requires me to understand it, or even to own it. It simply is, and I can let it go, and think about a different aspect of life and being human without letting that thing, whatever it is or was, weigh me down.
So yeah, maybe I'm crazy. Maybe we're all crazy. Maybe fiction writers are simply nuts enough to feel it's okay to voice the crazy inside, because we've all stopped asking ourselves that question.
Or maybe we've just stopped caring about the answer.
About the Author:
JC Andrijeski has published novels, novellas, serials, graphic novels and short stories, as well as nonfiction essays and articles, including the Allie’s War series and The Slave Girl Chronicles. Her short fiction runs from humorous to apocalyptic, and her nonfiction articles cover subjects from graffiti art, meditation, psychology, journalism, politics and history. JC currently lives and writes full time at the foot of the Himalayas in India, a location she drew on a fair bit in writing the Allie's War books.Connect with the Author: