It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.
I’ve been thinking about this for the past few days, but I’m wondering what you all think of it. I wonder if you even think about it at all.
I’m talking about the dark side. You know, that bit about writing that’s there, but that doesn’t get mentioned all that often.
Like the fact that it’s more of an addiction than a passion. Or else it’s a damn near all-consuming passion. One that makes me euphoric when I’m doing it, but leaves me suffering from withdrawal when I’m not. The more we write, the more we want to write. This is good in that few people are lucky enough to find something as constructive to be addicted to. Still, we’re stuck in our minds half of the time. The other half is spent with at least a small part of us wishing that we were stuck in our minds and writing. This can (and has) led to some aggravation, embarrassment and tension in the past. Fact is, it’s really difficult to maintain a balance when it comes to writing. If I stop paying attention for a few weeks, I spend most of my time bashing out words. And when I say most, I mean at least three quarters of my available time. And it’s not like I don’t have other things to do. I’m not saying that I just lie down and forget to live my life. I’m saying that part of me is always fighting the urge to write at the expense at some badly neglected part of my life.
Another thing: We’re more sensitive than people think. In fact, I’d say we’re more sensitive than we’d like to believe. Think about it. If something happens, normal people gloss over it and move on, or store it away to look at once in a while. We don’t do that. We put everything away for later. And then when we go poking at those things so that we can get the right words and emotions onto the page. So not only do we feel everything, but we feel them for a long time. Writing is a good way to get those feelings out, but I know from own experience how much it hurts to call up certain memories, but I can’t just avoid them, because they’ll crop up in my writing whether I want them to or not. So if I don’t willingly face something, writing will eventually force me to.
We go digging in the darkest corners of our psyche to find what we need when we’re writing. Think about it… those thoughts and emotions that you’re giving to the most evil villain that you can imagine? It comes from you. Your own fears. Your own prejudices. All of that comes from the dark places of your own soul. At the same time, all that is good in the story comes from you too. But the fact is, writing puts all of it out there. And most of us hope that our writing will be publicly consumed. I think that if we really think about how much of us goes into what we write, a lot of us would consider giving up. (Except for the fact that our writing addictions would run us ragged.) It opens us to a new and very special world of pain. Especially when it comes to rejection.
The last point I want to mention is one that got me thinking on these lines in the first place: We’re self-aware – sometimes painfully so. When we dig about in our psyches, we discover things that take most people forever to even become aware of. We explore those things, so we get know ourselves better than most people. Think I’m kidding? Find someone you trust and if your conversation turns serious, start talking about who you are. You’ll find you’re far more aware of what’s going on inside of you than your friend about him/herself. Good? Most of the time. Until you find out something that you might not have wanted to know. I recently figured out a big motivation in my life, and it wasn’t what I thought. It’s actually quite twisted and after I discovered this part of myself, I took weeks to settle into this new awareness. Hell, I’m still not really comfortable and I know that I was doing just fine until I made this discovery. I can’t help thinking that I wouldn’t even have thought along the lines that lead to my discovery if I hadn’t been a writer.
So was Vita Sackville-West right? Does writing help me “score above my fellows”? I’d say yes, but sometimes there’s a cost involved. A high cost? Possibly, but then nothing that’s worthwhile comes for free. And right now, there’s nothing that feels as worth while as creating and if used correctly and constructively, even the dark side to writing can be to our benefit…
What say you? Thoughts?
Any other dark aspects to add? What gets to you sometimes?