Writers are a funny breed

I was just recently told I “certainly write alot” by a new email friend.  I had to chuckle, because I know there are some far more prolific writers out there than I.  I have been blogging since about 2008, and it’s been my life line as I do this stay at home mother thing.  It helps me keep my sanity, though I say that quite loosely, because I tend to dance on the precipice of madness just to see what happens with my writing.

I wanted to share a very interesting email exchange I had with a very wonderfully creative ex-friend writer. The most experimental writing I have ever had was in a correspondence with my internet friend Craig a few years back.

He loved writing in metaphor and interacting with him was a thoroughly enjoyable process for me.  I wanted to share some of the exchange we had.   I sorely miss our correspondence.   It was some of the most fun and creatively energizing exchanges I’d ever had with another person.

Craig:

“I just love tangents.  I mean, I simply adore tangents. Tangents are like exploring a new part of town and finding a really cool pub. But, I think that is why structure is something that interests me so. I have spent my time sitting in bar rooms and coffee houses parsing Hume and Kierkegaard, and I do enjoy it to an extent, but having someone say a word or turn a phrase that simply resonates in your ear and take it and role on with it.. before you know it the sun is rising and you have no idea where the night went or how you got talking about something you didn’t even know you had an opinion about. It is like jazz, but with ideas. Like music theory contains a structure that allows the musician to explore and experiment in. It is important to know how to read music, but it is just important how to forget the music and simply express yourself, no?

This is what allot of my writing is to me exploration (especially the nighttime stuff that I do after dreaming) Is has to be grounded in something real, and then carried away from there… it is like the art of logic.

I love Kerouac, the music of writing, like a jazz musician pushing things further… in context but not worried too much about staying within the lines. i get to typing and I simply forget what is going on and what time it is.

Right now, i looked [your letter] over and saw the phrase, “the ‘deliciousness’ of words” and i would have to agree, only words by themselves do not have that affect on me… it is the context within which the words is used… it is the phrase, or the whole idea that jumps out at me… the image it creates, like a cave painting trying to communicate something far greater than just the paint and stone could ever represent.  Like good poetry, painting an image with the understanding that the image includes so much more than physical things – the image also include emotions and ideas and logic. but using the physical to convey deeper aspects of the logic and concepts.

So, now imagine that two different people practiced at building their ideas on their own; journal writing or what not. Each doing their own thing and learning their own way to massage their communication skill into an art form, and then they get together and start working off each other like two jazz horn players, one playing a little while, then the other takes a few notes from what the first guy played and riffs on his own off of that.  Back and forth they go, each taking a little of what the last did and building further in their own direction… ending up somewhere completely amazing and unanticipated. imagine that, but with words and ideas… and ending with thoughts that have never been had before. Not just understanding something someone else was trying to say.  But understanding something that has never been perceived before… where the thought, the consciousness of the thought is the Thing that is real.. the newly discovered planet or species of animal. And what if the thoughts are already there but our language is too simple to convey them… what if there are thoughts already in our heads that we cannot recognize because our understanding of language is too simplistic? Isaac Newton had to invent calculus to understand how the planets moved.

:D So, here I am sitting at my computer feeling like I just awoke to find myself in the middle of a desert next to a car that ran out of gas. It is such an AWESOME feeling!”

***

So…imagine my surprise when I read those words.  I realized how beautiful writing can be when you can write in images and emotions rather than simply stringing words together in some sort of forced or analytical way.

My response?

“I read this today in Franny and Zooey – it’s particularly salient to my current thought processes.

“The Des Moines expatriate in New York.  I could’ve killed him, I swear to God.  What a night. I sat there for two solid hours while he told me what a superior son of a bitch I am, and what a family of psychotics and psychopathic prodigies I come from.”

Wow! There’s that and so much more I find interesting in F&Z I need to journal some more about.

Sadly, in this day and age there’s too much in society about  reducing the range of ‘normal’ to the point that even those persons without exceptional precocity/creativity, but who are merely quirky, is deemed crazy and in need of medications.

My problem isn’t so much that I was ever a genius (though I am quite intelligent).  However, I have come to realize that my creativity is been giving me a problem all my life because I haven’t understood it or given it expression and it was nearly forced out of me at times, at least until only recently (the past few years or so)

Let me share something that came out of reading and ruminating on your email and OTHER things lately.  it’s a rough thing…I’m not so used to “free range” expression.  for a moment…it’s going to be all about me because you unlocked something inside.

I need help releasing creative energy…that urge to purge oneself of thoughts, ideas, emotions…that want, no NEED to spill out into something I can use or learn from. It needs channeling, not controlling, not managing, not ignoring, not reducing things to nothing, or analyzing to death, or pretending one doesn’t have anxiety related to the need to purge what goes on inside their heart/mind…instead of doing something ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ like, oh i don’t know like cleaning the house or getting a J-O-B.  not that those things aren’t important …they just aren’t that important to ME as much right now.

The job, the job, the job. yes. the best function of a job for me was to give me a legitimate ‘cover’ while i sort things out in my head. look ‘normal’, be ‘different’. and now…without that input of my old career, without that constant stream of working with my hands, interacting with people, troubleshooting instrumentation and people like I did when talking with them about my ideas in between tasks or after work over a cold beer, i’m dying inside. no outlet, no understanding friend/mentor to philosophize with me about life.

interacting with intelligent, creative people, is like sharpening my axe, ya know? or synergy, or…like this “having someone say a word or turn a phrase that simply resonates in your ear and take it and roll on with it.. before you know it the sun is rising and you have no idea where the night went or how you got talking about something you didn’t even know you had an opinion about. It is like jazz, but with ideas“. i need that kind of interaction and i need refinement of my intuitive/creative/intellectual parts. how do i understand what goes on in my heart and mind and how do I unload the creative energy into something that GIVES me more energy, NOT takes it away, if not by interacting with other intuitive, creative AND intellectual persons (yes, ALL of the above, not just persons with one of those traits). and now all i keep thinking about it is what good is having intelligence and creativity without an outlet or without knowing how to accept that is the way you are and this is how to channel it, without an understanding friend or two and without some way to (at least to yourself) justify yourself taking up space and consuming resources while leaving a wake of chaos behind you. my kind of creativity, intellect, and what not does NOT complement motherhood/wifeyhood so well.

Because, well, I’m slightly un-balanced. I can’t find that ‘middle ground’, the ‘right consistency’, the ‘right blend’. [the phone rang at this point and my husband and I spoke about what was going on in my head…and my agitation…he suggested he could give me one of his Xanax pills] while we are at it, let’s talk about medications, shall we? i tried to explain to J the chaotic mental morning I had. while it was partially due to my grandmother dying and him being a bit of a butthead, MOST of it was about finally having been finally made aware that the way I’M wired is that I need to swim out further to the deep waters and stay off the beach (though making intricate sandcastles wouldn’t be quite so bad). And I should NOT be ashamed of how I am because I’ve been that way far too long dammit… Those who understand what those deep waters are like are already there inviting you in, telling you the water is wonderful…while those that are not are on the beach calling you back with the promise of Xanax to take care of your anxieties while you stand hip deep in the seawater wondering which way you should go – out to the crystal blue waters where there might be dangerous sharks and stingrays (which really aren’t all that dangerous if you know how to avoid their stingers) lurking underneath the waters, or turn back onto the beach where it’s “safe” and “predictable” but above all NORMAL.”

***

So…that was a few years back…and I really miss that crazy kind of exchange. I’m still a lousy house-frau, but at least my daughters are getting older and more interesting to talk to. I realize that much of the freedom in childhood comes from not having to censor themselves all the time…well, until they are forced to by other people.

I fear that most people want to be normal so much that they miss out on a rich and textured internal experience, and when they don’t allow themselves to be creative and experimental in their thinking and behaving and living, they won’t allow other people to be creative and experimental either.

I’ve been on this planet nearly 42 years, and I have found that most people try to police other people’s thoughts and behavior.  All it takes is a look of disdain, a roll of the eyes, an insensitive comment.  Individual differences are often ridiculed.  Intensity is often mistaken as craziness.  “Curb your enthusiasm” is the name of the game.

It’s quite upsetting to me.

At best, “Normal” people are boring. At worst, they are soul-sucking.

I hate normalcy.  And I hate the fact that all my life people have been trying to make me and others like me be normal.  The only thing they’ve succeeded in doing was dim the light that shines inside us and make us physically and emotionally tired from having to swim upstream against the current of normalcy.

I hope I can recover some of that playfulness and humor and above all that creativity that got unleashed, at least for a little while.

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Friendship, Intensity, Jack Kerouac, Letters to Friends, Madness, Metaphorical writing, My own non-famous letters, Observations from Life, Passion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Writers are a funny breed

  1. joesoares says:

    Wish I could write like that a lot and a lot. lol.
    That`s a good point Casey about not being normal or trying to be normal (like society?)
    The way I see is that we all are normal and yet not…To me to be normal is to find one`s own happiness with ones self. Just by accepting our individuality and to learn to love ourselves. But I do understand the inner frustration of some of us that the time is passing by and there is not so much time to do things, create more things and so on, the way we wanted too. Simply because there are other issues in life that takes that time. ie: Jobs and family to mention 2 major ones.
    So, because this is part of our reality one as to accept and adjust to it for not to be insane. Needless to say that same `normality` is needed to give us an unbalance (life experiences and lessons) and therefore have something to write about.
    Hope you can understand what I am trying to say. I am sure you could write it better and more specifically explained. There you are…maybe you can do some writing about `Normality`. lol.
    Keep writing.!!
    Kind Regards.
    Joe.

  2. Yeah, sometimes I am a little goofy like that. I have seen it time and time again where writers just kind of go on and on. Sometimes I’m sure I annoy people with how long my posts get, but part of accepting and loving myself means that I have a lot to say sometimes, even if it’s rare that anyone else shares my enthusiasm for language. I try to intersperse my longer posts with photo posts, to give my readers a break. lol.

    I’m a little less frustrated than when I first started blogging, partly because the girls are more fun and interesting now and they’ve become really silly and fun and they have some great writing ability too.

    Over here, I find that people are pretty much the same – they think the good life is a big house, fancy clothes, working a lot and not having to think too hard and have the same shallow conversations without really getting to know how another person thinks and feels about the joys and trials of life. They cope by eating too much, shopping too much, or drinking too much. They all think they are just fine, but I see the unhappiness just under the surface. They joke about the stress, and how tired they are. No one has the desire or the ability to slow down and see how shallow their lives have become.

    I run into acquaintances all the time and we say hello and talk a bit, but rarely is it anything other than saying how busy they are, how tired they are, how little time they have, how frustrated they are about work, about their kids, about their spouses, about whatever. No one talks about being passionate about anything that they do, but they certainly complain a lot when things aren’t going well.

    Many people just seem well, ‘out of it’. Like they are sleepwalking through life. I think they are.

    I loved my job when I worked. I love my family time. I love my hobbies. I am not very fond of housework, but I do enjoy order whenever I get around to focusing on that.

    When I find other people who have passion for life or ideas or people, I so appreciate the energy that’s created. It’s one of the main reasons I love people who are naturally outgoing AND can tell a great story…because they have imagination and aren’t afraid to use it.

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Casey,
    I love your openness and your ability to talk about difficult things, things that are without clear structure or straightforward message, things that are chaotic and are revealing – without watering them down, without filtering yourself (at least with much less filtering than is “normal” for many people). I now realize that there is a lot of filtering in my writing – a lot of making sure that “I don’t offend anyone”, that things are “balanced”. And this of course makes my own writing less personal, less raw and less energetic. I love the intimacy of your writing.

    People that are open-minded and gracious are admittedly scarce – there is too much judgement and comparison and eye-rolling even among people we consider friends. But it’s enough to find and connect just with a couple of like-minded, gracious people to feel validated to explore our own thing.

  4. Mike –

    Thank you so much. So lovely to hear from you again.

    As adults we have been subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) conditioned to behave in ways that don’t make other people feel uncomfortable. In the effort to be ‘civiliized’ we lose our natural spontaneity. But that’s usually where the playfulness and imagination is. AND…in the playfulness…in allowing natural expressions of joy and silliness to come spilling out, we relax and reduce stress naturally and problem-solve more creatively.

    My daughters have also been teaching me this wonderful lesson.

    The girls love to speak in British accents. I THINK they got that from one of my friends who visited who loved to entertain them with different accents. I know he made a great impression on the girls. My middle daughter said something funny the other day in a British accent and I said, “are you speaking in a British accent because of Mr. B?”…she said, “no, I’m speaking in a funny British voice because I CAN”.

    My oldest was playing a video game and she was getting riled up by it and started yelling at the game. She got really loud and I said, “c’mon M, don’t shout, it hurts my ears” and she said, “Ma, I’m just EXPRESSING my feelings.” And, well, that jut about floored me. That is a fairly astute observation for a 10 year old. I WANT them to be able to express their feelings and thoughts, even if it makes me uncomfortable.

    I am around other parents all the time (usually mothers, but sometimes fathers). Two of them I know are medicated with antidepressants, one of whom whose daughter is medicated too because she’s had anxiety issues and frequent emotional outbursts (but mainly I believe those are due to hypoglycemia). Other parents talk about the possibility of medicating their kids for ADHD – sometimes they are joking, other times, they are at their wits’ end but they aren’t looking for non-medication routes of intervention (like most ADD/ADHD kids need dietary changes coupled with things to do that they feel passionate about pursuing).

    Many of them complain of their frustrations and joke their increase in alcohol consumption (usually wine or margaritas) as if this was a thing to laugh about. My own sister, who used to rarely drink wine, is always seen with a large glass of wine in her hand at family functions. People are gaining weight all the time because they aren’t paying attention to the signals telling them to re-evaluate how they spend their time and their money. They have time to work, time to buy things, time to go out to eat, to throw a party for their kids or for themselves, but NO time to exercise. Instead, they reach for the chemicals to make themselves feel better about how empty their lives have become.

    And it just dawned on me. I wonder if I stopped asking people to go out for a cup of coffee or tea with me and asked them to go out for a drink with me if I’d have more luck getting my acquaintances to accept an invitation to get to know each other better.

    It breaks my heart because everyone is coming apart at the seams…but no one seems to see the pain underneath all the facade of “normalcy”.

    And, it teaches me that there is something wrong with the way we try to fit in to be normal. Modern life IS anxiety inducing, but usually more so when we 1) overextend ourselves with regards to time or overspending or 2) have high expectations of what’s socially acceptable both in ourselves and others and 3) no safe outlet for dialogue about our concerns – I don’t just mean venting our criticisms but coming up with creative solutions.

    Sigh. I don’t want to be a part of the charade. It’s one of the reasons why I have lots of acquaintances but few real friends anymore. When I was in college, we had all sorts of interesting goofballs as friends…and now most have all grown up to be overextended, frazzled, anxious people. BUT, they all have nicer and bigger houses, more money for Disney World vacations and home renovations and furniture upgrades and better jobs to brag about than we do.

    I guess it’s a trade-off.

  5. mikepolis says:

    “It breaks my heart because everyone is coming apart at the seams…but no one seems to see the pain underneath all the facade of “normalcy”.

    Your words absolutely resonate with me, and they remind me of Sartre’s “Nausea”. It’s a novel about a man who seemingly has a project that he is occupied with (writing a book), but the life he lives feels increasingly empty for him, the project starts to lose it’s meaning and the objects around start to lose their usual, recognizable function. The illusion of normal world starts to fall a part, and “nausea” sets in.

    It’s about what happens when the pursuit for “normalcy” breaks down, and life is revealed in it’s naked emptiness. It’s a mesmerizing read.

    Having people we love is one of the few things that is real. The connection you have with your girls
    is unique and gratifying for both of you. When they grow-up, and discover that not all moms are the same, I think they will be grateful for the openness and freedom and gentle care which you give them.

  6. Mike –

    This is the second time in about three days I heard of Sartre’s book Nausea. I was looking up information about shifts in consciousness due to traumatic experiences. The phenomenon you describe is called depersonalization by psychologists. Some people with traumatic experiences have this condition temporarily, others with no history of trauma may have this condition but it’s more permanent. I think Albert Camus’ The Stranger is something similar.

    Life doesn’t feel empty for me, but I do struggle with the things I see. I want …because of the connections to my children, my husband and my internet friends. BUT, it does feel strange to see most people relating to each other on only the most superficial of ways and all of the joking that goes on about what really are serious problems.

    There were two mothers at my 10 year old daughter’s softball game and they were talking about their daughters’ cell phone usage. One mother said her daughter frequently forgot to charge her phone, and when she did, she’d find like 17 texts messages, and mostly that just say, “Hey H, ‘sup?”

    My 10 year old daughter doesn’t have a cell phone and won’t for a very long time. (She won’t have a facebook page either – during the middle school orientation we had not too long ago, we were told of the older students in the middle school she’ll be attending next year being cyber bullied through facebook).

    I have to say that I’m kind of a strong personality. If I am gentle, it’s because I work at it. I haven’t had very good role modeling in my own family of origin – where it was very authoritarian and, actually abusive. But I don’t want to swing too far in the direction of permissiveness either – kids do need guidance AND the ability to make choices for themselves. So, I try to find a balance between those two extremes. I don’t want to raise entitled, sheltered kids, and I don’t want to raise girls afraid to stand up for themselves.

    I’m raising them to be a little like she-wolves – loyal, strong, and willing to stand their ground, even if it means baring their teeth once in a while.

  7. Casey says:

    Reblogged this on The Sprightly Writer and commented:

    I wanted to share an older blog post I wrote and shared with a new blogging friend. It’s one of my favorites about creativity, individuality, intensity and sharing ideas with other thoughtful and delightful writers. I hope you enjoy it.

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