A few hours ago, I was running on my treadmill listening to the words of Fiona Apple: “Oh darlin it’s so sweet you think you know how crazy, how crazy I am.”
I’ve always loved that song for one reason: I can identify with her inner mania. In fact, sometimes I think I thrive on it.
I’ve often considered the broad spectrum of artistry: the thoughtful painter, the animated actor, the bold dancer, the boisterous musician, and the quiet writer. From the outside, many writers are shy, soft spoken, introverted. But the outward is a poor reflection of the intensity inside.
If you’d asked me three years ago what my artistic passion was, I would have answered by laughing. Now, I know that it’s writing and always has been, despite my lack of creativity up until three years ago. Ever since the fifth grade, I inconsistently kept journals, pouring out my inner turmoil in a cathartic release of feelings that no other outlet gave me.
In my early twenties, I meticulously detailed every aspect of my depression, isolation, and desperation. I dove into the nitty gritty of my love affairs and examined the existential meaning of life. I was crazy, and I knew it. I embraced it. There were secrets in my journals that only one other human being knows about. And I’ll tell you how he found out.
My romance with my husband was a whirlwind. We dated for four months before we were engaged. When it happened, I’d already bought my wedding dress and I think even the invites were sent out. I can only guess it was close to the wedding because I’d already started moving all my things to his house. Namely, my books and old journals.
One day I walked into his quiet house and began searching for the man I knew was inside. I climbed the stairs, looking into each room until I came to the last one. There he was, reclined on the floor, one of my journals in his hand. It was everything I could do not to launch myself through the air and rip it away.
When he looked up at me, his eyes were a little blank and glassy. Oh dear God. He’s never going to marry me now.
“I read most of them,” he said. His voice was pretty monotone. Maybe I interpreted it as dead.
I just swallowed, waiting for my death sentence.
“And?” I finally asked.
“I still want to marry you.” His face broke into a smile. “Even though I know just how much of a freak you are, I still want to marry you.” I let out a huge sigh and gave him a hug.
My husband knows me better than any human alive, and he still loves me, despite my madness.
Years ago when I used to journal, I would chronicle the events of my life in an attempt to make sense of them. Now I take the chaos, embrace it, and throw it straight into my stories. Writing is a deep exploration of the human mind, drawing out its strongest emotions. And if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that most humans feel inner mania too. It’s the very reason we love to pick up a work of fiction and vicariously feel a character’s intensity caged inside of us that we have no means to express. I love the drama. I love fear, desperation, anger, even violence if I’m forced to admit it. I love the bad things not just because it’s part of our human nature, but because I love playing god and forcing good to be birthed from the bad. I also love love. (No, that’s not a typo.) I love forgiveness, acceptance, goodness, and redemption. And I love that I can create it with my keyboard.
People hear story after story of musicians gone off the deep end with drugs, alcohol, and sex. Their art is so outward, so interactive and mutually experiential. The emotion I feel when I write is all internal and completely isolated. Often times, I’ll hit the trail with my ipod and go on a mental bender for thirty minutes while I jog. Nobody passing by has a clue of the scenes that flood my head during these times.
When I’m writing, there have been countless occasions that my hands shake, my armpits sweat, and a feeling of euphoria steals over me. When I’m done, by head feels like it’s underwater, and I go through the motions of the day like a machine, fighting the wrung-out feelings from what I’ve just created. Let me tell ya, it’s intense.
Writing isn’t work to me. If you were to ask my husband, he’d tell you it’s an obsession. He’s not wrong. I get cranky if I miss a day. I feel off. If you think reading a good book is fulfilling, try writing one. Imagine anyplace you want to go, and then the power of creating it. The power of creating people and places and bending them to your will. Maybe writers are just narcissistic control freaks. Or maybe it’s just me.
In any case, as for those of you who scrutinize the writer… “It’s so sweet you think you know how crazy, how crazy I am.”