Here it is, a little after ten in the morning, and already I feel as if I’ve been up for hours and working hard. Actually, I have been up for hours: I woke up sometime around four AM and sort of drifted in and out of sleep until I it was time to get up and take my daughter to the local Y for her martial arts class. While waiting for her to finished kicking whatever butt she kicks, I wrote twelve hundred words and change for my Camp NaNo story, and finished the latest chapter in that tale.
Yes, I’ve been hard at work. This is normal for me: the lack of sleep, the writing, the listening to music as I type away. I’m doing it now, and I’ll do it later today. Maybe even tonight.
It’s what I do.
Out on the NaNo Group there was one of those innocuous question that pop up, something along the lines of “Why aren’t writers normal? What do you think makes you normal?” This is something that goes around a lot, that if you’re a writer, there must be something “different” about you, ’cause normal people don’t spend all their time dreaming up ways to kill people, or blow things up, or cause all sorts of grievous things to happen–
No, you’re confusing creative people with Micheal Bay. Don’t do that.
Why do people think writers are not all that normal? That’s an easy one: because they do something that doesn’t seem like work to ninety-nine percent of the people who aren’t creative. They sit and scribble a lot of different things, putting those words on paper or into a computer, and one has to be nuts if they are thinking about things like how to murder their annoying neighbor without anyone catching on.
Here’s the thing: writers are normal. They are because what they do is a job, and though they might do research into the best way to blow up an aircraft without leaving residue behind, that’s because they’re trying to do their job well. But are you strange because of what you write? Some would say, “Look at Poe; look at Lovecraft.” Yeah, they had their problems, but did that arise from writing? Hardly–
For I would say, “Look at Stephen King. Has he turned rabid dogs and creepy twins loose on people in real life?” No, he hasn’t. Look at Robert Bloch: created one of the best known crazy murders in literary history, but those who knew him said he was a kind and gentle person. Robert Heinlein looked like your crabby uncle; Anne McCaffrey may have looked a bit like your hippie aunt.
Writers are not, per say, nuts or crazy or not normal. They seem that way because people without imaginations can’t conceive how their minds work. For those who’ve never had a creative impulse in their life, trying to understand the concept of “making things up” is a difficult one, and they justify the notion by believing that one must not be normal in order to think up those things.
There is a single truism in all this, however: creative people tend to have a higher incident of depression, of bi-polar disorder, of various mental afflictions, than “normal” people. Poe, Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Philip K. Dick: they all suffered their demons, and it often showed in their work. Writers, musicians, artist: it appears that a high percentage truly do suffer for their work–but they did so before their work became another source of their suffering.
You can consider yourself not normal if you like, but I won’t ever do that, because I know whatever is wrong with me didn’t come from the art I now have as a second job.
I may be crazy, but I’m always normal.