Are fiction writers certifiably insane?


I mean, come on, think about it.  We have voices talking inside our heads.  Lots of voices.  They talk to us, they talk to each other.  They argue.  We talk out loud, verbalizing their words.  We act out the scenes the way we envision they should react to a string of events.  We plot out evil and then make these imaginary characters murder, rape, pillaging, lie.  Why, even some of our characters ride wedras, talk to trolls, train with wizards or fight dragons.  Some are werewolves, others elves or some unheard of species all together.  And some of these imaginative tales take place in cities we’ve never been or in make-believe worlds.  Sounds kind of nutty to me.

Most of the time, people like the ones described above, undergo extensive psychiatric help.  Thousands of years ago, they may have burned us at the stake for practicing sorcery.  And it wasn’t long ago they put people away in sanitariums for hearing and talking to voices inside their heads.   So why aren’t authors considered certifiably insane if they hear a voice in their head and answer back?

I’d like to think it’s because we have some connection with reality, but I can’t use that as a huge excuse because most of us writers spend more time in our imaginary world than in the real one, at least us full-time writers.  I don’t know about you, but nothing burns me more than typing a way at a great scene and the oven buzzer goes off, the dog knocks over a vase, the phone rings or a precious offspring whines for the umpteenth time that his sister stole his legos.    How dare reality take me away from that pivotal moment that’s changing my character’s life for good or bad!  Now, I’ve lost it, that moment where the plot was coming together.  My brain is now frozen.  I’m lost.  Now it’s time to go to the store or the park, yet the entire time my characters are duking it out in my head.  Scenes are unraveling.  The words are flowing…and I’ve left my digital recorder at home.  No matter what I do, the voices never go away.  They’re always there, plotting, devising, whispering.

Even as I sit here and write this post, one of my supporting characters is arguing with his father, loud and clear.  My brain has been in a deadlock as to how I was going to re-write this scene so it didn’t sound like a Star Wars knock off, and now it’s coming to me.  Unfortunately, this means I now have to part with reality and talking to you good folks so I can hang out with my imaginary counterparts and sort out their issues.  *smile*.

Yes, we authors are a little ‘touched’.  It’s all good, because without us crazy, insane writers, there would be no books to read, and what kind of world would that be?

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One thought on “Are fiction writers certifiably insane?

  1. This is an excellent article. As a writer myself, often working on multiple projects from a Children’s character to an Alien on Earth to a Dysfunctional family and then an army Lt battling a former sergeant in the jungle, I think you have to be a bit “gifted” to be able to differentiate the character voices and make them all unique. I love the advice from Jim Henson which was create the world first and look at how many worlds came out of that guy! Being distracted is my greatest nightmare too. I must get a lock for my study door. Whether it’s placed on the outside or the inside is another issue entirely!

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