Earlier this week I tweeted something to the effect of “[we] balance the line between narcissism and self-loathing.” I’m sure some of you have seen this phrase on a meme or two. That’s where I got it, and it couldn’t be more IN YOUR FACE accurate if it included whiskey and frequent bouts of isolation. Whoever the original sayer of said phrase is, I give complete credit to you.
Sure, we joke. We laugh. We call ourselves IN-FUCKING-SANE. But behind that lies a deep-seeded fear that, yes. We really are certifiable.
Writers are different. We see things in different ways and interpret our observations in ways that can be manipulated into story. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between what’s real and what SHOULD be real, because as we see it, fiction is the only real. Magic SHOULD and DOES exist, in our eyes. Psychopaths REALLY DO live in the apartment next door and the gates of hell DO open inside a Krispy Kreme shop.
For people who don’t think that way, it seems like a pretty awesome way to live. And it is.
Most of the time.
In his book, Stranger Than Fiction, Chuck Palahniuk said:
“The worst part of writing fiction is the fear of wasting your life behind a keyboard. The idea that, dying, you’ll realize you only lived on paper. Your only adventures were make-believe, and while the world fought and kissed, you sat in some dark room masturbating and making money.”
These are the times when thinking the way we do – disappearing into our worlds of fiction – is not so great. It’s lonely. We choose isolation over little misadventures out in the real world because the adventures in our heads are SO MUCH BETTER. And when we’re lost in the words of someone we admire, or absorbed in our own fictions, it doesn’t matter. We’re perfectly happy.
You know that feeling when you come out of a movie that, while you were watching it, reached deep in your chest and held your heart, making it dance in time to the movie’s tension and sadness and happiness? When the magic is over and the real world just doesn’t quite live up to what you’d just experienced?
That’s how we feel. All the time. Every day. When we come out our darkened rooms, away from our desks or tables or couches or nooks where we write. The real world just isn’t up to snuff. So we go back to our darkened rooms. Our books. Our words. We surround ourselves with people who are lost in their own worlds – even if only in the twitterverse.
Writers: I’m talking to you – it’s OK to be a little crazy (even that kind you’re afraid of). It’s OK to prefer the company of books to real people. Real people can really suck sometimes because they just don’t get it. It’s OK to be in love with your work. In fact, you should be. It’s OK to want to be alone in a crowd of people so that you can watch, undisturbed. It’s OK to miss out on things that you don’t really have an interest in, even though you think it’s something you should do just to be apart of everyone else.
You’re not everyone else.
You’re a writer.
*cue cheesy inspirational 80’s music because it’s awesome*