21 November 2012

Unmedicated Delight

So, I've been wondering... The submission process, the waiting, the wondering, has to be be pretty unsatisfying. Thus far, to you, what is the most satisfying part of your craft? -- Brian

That question was asked of me on Monday's blog post. I have to say that there are many things I love about being a writer. Yes, I enjoy seeing people cry about places and characters who do not exist.Yes, the tortured screams of my beta readers are like ambrosia on the tongue of my twisted soul.  And there's almost nothing better than that moment when your brain flashes, the world winks out of existence for just a second and when you come back to "reality" there is a fresh idea still smoking from its time on ye olde intellectual forge.

But there's something deeper that draws me into this authorial life of mine. I shall explain by invoking my mundane superpower and accessing that part of my brain that fuels 1/3 of IMDB. The answer to your question, Brian, is Drop Dead Fred.

Back in the early '90s there was a movie starring Phoebe Cates and Rik Mayall about a woman named Elizabeth. When she was a child, Elizabeth had an imaginary friend named Drop Dead Fred (played by Mayall). Together Lizzie and Fred ran around wreaking havoc and giggling and having the best of times. Well, like all of us, Lizzie grew up. However, when her adult life is going to pieces Fred reappears. She thinks she's going crazy. Her overbearing mother and philandering husband try to convince her that she needs help and stability in only the ways they can provide. They even medicate her with these vile green pills that will make Fred disappear. Well, Elizabeth passes out and has this vivid dream wherein she must stand up to mother and husband, take charge of her own life and give up Fred.

Preach!
It's a shitty little movie from '91, but I've always liked it. For one, it probably explains my unholy love of gingers. And British guys. And British gingers. *shakes self* Anyway, Fred really appealed to me. He was this ball of chaos and disorder, but not in a malicious way. He's a trickster.

Even at age 11 I empathized with Lizzie. I got that character because I saw parts of myself in her. I never wanted to become her and hated hated hated the end of the film. Why? Because she gives up the one person in her life that brings her joy. The one person who wants nothing from her and does not seek to overpower her.

It's one of the things I hated about A Beautiful Mind...when John Nash tells his hallucination of a little girl goodbye? I start bawling. Why oh why do we have to tell them goodbye?!

But, back to Brian's initial question. What do I find so satisfying about my craft? The fact that I get to change the end of this movie. Every. Damn. Day.

While no one has ever told me directly that I should put away childish things and be a grown up with a "real job", the pressure is always out there for us to "act our age". For us to be adults who function according to society's ideals of what is sane and what isn't. So often it seems that imagination gets squashed in the pursuit of maturity. However, there is this niche in our population that seems to get some slack on this...there are some people in the world who are exempt and allowed to flourish. Storytellers. Writers. Actors. Artists... we're not force-fed sanity nor are we stuffed away into institutions for insisting that somewhere the sky is purple or that technomancers walk around Las Vegas.

Reading this pisses me off and makes me weep.

In another life I might be called schizophrenic because I talk to, play with and cultivate relationships with people who do not exist. I was in 9th grade the first time I ever killed off a character. I cried for days and shook like I belonged in an asylum. Friends had to talk me off the proverbial ledge because I was freaking out that I'd killed someone I'd been writing about for more than a year. He was real to me. I knew him. I know Catherine. I know the exact timbre of Marius's voice and what he smells like. I have a running dialogue with Eli and Flynn and Karma and Zyndel and Eve...and none of you have any idea who I'm talking about because all of these people and more live in my head. It's like a high rise condo up there with wizards and elves and satyrs and gods and and and and...just all milling about. And that's part of why I write... to get these people out of my head and into yours, to introduce you to some pretty spectacular individuals.

And places! Oh my gods! There's the circus I'm dying to take you to someday. The tents are tattered and the costumes faded, but the Ringmaster puts on quite a show. And there's this colony of elves who live in the woods. I want to take you there and see if they'll let us all walk through the Star Country. Oh, and Marius has promised to take us to a waterfall near the Neda in Greece....

I love that I can sit and spin these ideas, take these journeys and write them down without getting slapped on the wrist and told to take my medicine or get back to my "real job".

I saw a line the other day that quoted Adam Savage as saying, "Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down." I feel the same way about the kind of crazy I subscribe to. The only difference between me and that 4 year old having a tea party is that I write it down.

I find writing so satisfying because it allows me to play with my imaginary friends with impunity. There's so much freedom in that unrestricted play, in the ability to sit down every day and answer "What If...?" a million different ways and live a thousand different lives.

I am satisfied beyond measure because I do not have to take the green pill.

How about you? What makes you jazzed?

2 comments:

Brian said...

...I helped?

Em²a Cartoon said...

This is why I love to draw as much as I do. I don't have the talent with words like you do, but I can squiggle like nobody's business!

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