It’s a question every author of fiction is familiar with in one form or another. “Is the main character really you?” “Which character is most like you?” Of course the answers always vary, but they also have similarities that we often overlook.
We are told to “write what we know,” and who do we know best but ourselves? Seems obvious doesn’t it? Not so fast. There are times when the obvious is way off base. And knowing ourselves is, in my opinion, one of those beliefs we take for granted that may not be true. Sometimes others may know us better than we know ourselves.
I would guess most non-writers think that the minds of writers pretty much operate all the same way: you get an idea, you write it down, expanding as you go. Years ago, I might have thought that myself, but my last few books over the last couple of years have completely disabused me of that notion. Every project has illustrated to me in ever-greater detail that my mind can work in vastly different ways when doing this singular yet very complex thing – writing. Continue reading “The Writer’s Mind: Laser vs. Soup”
A couple of my Facebook friends have linked to this blog post that more or less equates the writing life with mental illness. The author of the post starts out by mentioning the notoriously troubled relationship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda (who probably had some type of mood disorder), and goes on to name a number of other writers who have battled depression, among them Sylvia Plath. He then suggests that writers tend to be unhappy people because they “think a lot,” and also because of their “long periods of isolation and…high levels of narcissism.”
I’m not sure why, but it seems as if every writer I have ever known has been what I would call “damaged goods”. Those of you nodding your heads know what I’m talking about. You’ve probably noticed it when looking in the mirror. Writers are, for the most part, those people with social obstacles built in, like little ice-makers, in the freezer section of their brains.
Maybe it’s depression, maybe a weight problem, drinking, drugs, or some psychic pain born of an awful childhood. Your father didn’t appreciate you, Mom liked one of your siblings best and for some reason couldn’t remember your name a lot of the time. And now you’re the uneasy-looking guy or gal who can’t quite meet other people’s gazes head-on, with a twitch that started the day you found the family dog poisoned by the steak some nasty neighbor threw over the back fence to avenge his befouled lawn. You’re a writer, if you also happen to have the requisite desire to somehow right those scales, to make it all better through the stories you tell. Continue reading “Messages From The Land of Insecure Sidelong Glances by Tom Szollosi”