To Be a Fiction Writer - AKA, Why I Don't Want to Hangout With you

9:19 PM



I sound absolutely insane when I talk about writing. If you’re not a fiction writer, prepare yourself. I promise I’m not a psycho or a schizophrenic, I just have all of these stories and people living in my head, and I need to get them down somewhere.

(See what I mean? Please don’t close the tab! I’m not crazy, I promise!)

So yes, there are little voices in my head, but they aren’t telling me to do strange things or hurt other people/myself. They’re telling me their story, piece by piece, and I react with the guttural urge to write it all down. It sort of feels like anxiety, taking over my brain and demanding that I tell their story, except a lot more exciting.

When a new character or story comes to my mind, stimulated by something around me (a key, a door, a person, a quote, something a friend said, etc), a warm, strong ball of light forms right below my chest, in the pit of my stomach. It feels like a panic attack, like I’m about to explode if I don’t get the idea down somewhere. Sometimes all it takes is a note on my phone or in my journal, but often, like in November during NaNoWriMo, I need to get the whole dang 50,000 word story out.

As you might expect, this greatly interferes with my social interactions. I could be talking to someone, deep in conversation, when all of the sudden I’m enveloped by the person in my mind and I dig deep into their story-- right at the same time as this person is trying to talk to me. At that point, my brain says screw the conversation, the people in your mind are far more fun.

I don’t mean to be offensive, but it’s true, because the people in my mind are living in situations much more interesting and creative than the ones in my real life. Sorry, friends, you weren’t invented like my characters.

Something else that happens is when I'm either a) deep in the writing process, or b) looking forward to a night deep in the writing process, and someone asks me to do something with them. I'm most likely going to say no. If I get an idea and have a prior engagement planned, I'm totally screwed for the rest of the occasion because my mind won't shut up. Whoever accompanies me is in for it too, because they aren't going to get the proper attention that they deserve from me. I'll space out, or take frequent bathroom breaks to get whatever I need down.  

Author Kiera Cass recently described something similar in a video on Epic Reads Youtube about her new novel The Siren: “I went downstairs and wrote the first four paragraphs…and then had to go to a birthday party, that I hated, because I wanted to go home and play with the people in my head and not my real life friends.”

When I heard her say that, I laughed out loud because no situation has ever been described truer for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of other people, it's that I'm too often so preoccupied and entranced by the stories and characters in my mind that I can’t focus until I get their lives on the page. The fun is getting to create their story as well and seeing how it plays out. To me, that’s way better than real life.

In a way, going back to the beginning of this post, I do consider myself just a tad bit crazy. Fine, I admit it. But I realized the other day that you have to be a bit insane to do something great. We visited the Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI (a historical village filled with old houses and history lessons from people dressed to the time period). One of the buildings kept there is the laboratory of Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb. Here, you see his equipment-- his mortar and pestle, desk, various tools, wires, and shelves and shelves of chemicals and powders. I'm not exaggerating when I say the building, as large as a barn, was lined with bottles of substances that Edison used for his inventions. The man orating Edison's history told us that he tried to come up with a new invention every 10 days. 

All I'm saying is, people who think normally don't do anything extravagant; they live normal lives. It's the people who are a little bit out of this world who do the extraordinary. I think fiction writers fall in that category. We are a peculiar breed, with the lives of 10,000 others inside our heads. No one has been more places or heard more stories than we have.

I'm proud of my semi-insanity. I'm just glad it's not considered unhealthy to think the way I do. Everyone else just calls it "creativity". 

I'd really love to stay, but I have to go edit my novel now. That sounds pretentious. Let me put it this way: I'd really love to stay and chat, but the people in my head are calling to me. Ah, that's better. 

Thanks for reading, 


You Might Also Like

3 comments

  1. This is great. When I was 12 years old, I attempted to write my own novel but I wasn't able to continue it. There are days that it's better to drown ourselves with words rather than having a chat with our friends and it's fine. We deserve to have that time in the world. Hihi :)

    Augustin Ra | augustinra.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes! This post basically sums up my life! It's so irritating at the moment because I'm so busy with exams that I hardly get to spend time with the people in my head - they need me but I only get to see them for a few minutes in between revision, homework and school. However, I am looking forwards to speaking to them more once my exams are over.

    I do listen to people whose stories do not take up tens of thousands of words. They sometimes only need a paragraph or two then they go away. It's amazing how many voices I can hear in my head at a time!

    Jemima x
    anotherrantingreader.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brooke, yes!

    "All I'm say is, people who think normally don't do anything extravagant; they live normal lives. It's the people who are a little bit out of this world who do the extraordinary. I think fiction writer's fall in that category. We are a peculiar breed, with the lives of 10,000 others inside our heads. No one has been more places or heard more stories than we have."

    That paragraph basically sums out the entire population of fiction writers, YES.

    I do hear the voices of characters dying to be written out in my head most of the time, but I like to think that places and objects call out to me more, if that makes sense?

    Anyway, go to your people, Brooke, they need you! And when is this novel coming out?! I'd love to be first in line!

    May | THE MAYDEN | Bloglovin'

    ReplyDelete

Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images