Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Voices a Writer hears


Oscar Levant had said that Schizophrenia is better than eating alone.

If you have close-ones who are mentally ill you might not find this funny, but I find it funny and poignant.

Writing is lonely, and characters we invent become companions. We ask them questions. Sometimes they talk back.

When I began writing The Voice of Thunder, the setting was somewhat biographical. From the very first page the characters let me know they were themselves, not people from my past. They not only talked back to me, they had things to say I never knew.

I grew to like them very much, and they kept me company.

This is part of the writing process I still don’t understand. The day scientists chart the imagination and show us what it looks like on a scan, I may come back to revisit and revise my notions.

Until then I will continue to think of this process as coming from ‘other,’ and find Oscar Levant’s comment to be applicable every writing day. And I’m a sober person, no mental disorders here. Not officially-certifiably, anyhow.

11 comments:

  1. LOL ... and I say this because my brother, who has problems with people talking in his head says the same thing too :) But who says we're all not a mite crazy?

    Yes, for me too, the story-people are nothing like the real person who catalyzed the story.

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  2. Your post made me smile. Yes, as a writer I do find myself hanging out with my characters. I think about them all the time. How would they react to this ? What would they do if that happened? It's kind of humorous in my case since my current PB main character is a turkey!

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    1. Even though my first published PB was about a turkey, getting into the mind of a turkey is w-a-a-ay beyond me. I’m sure you are doing better!

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  3. Have you read the book by Jonah Lehrer about creativity? I think the title is Imagine. Part of it talks about two distinct brain paths we use when reading, and he relates it to how we write.

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    1. I'll check it out. I always appreciate pointers like this, Marcia.

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  4. I know what you mean. Sometimes I don't even understand how my characters come up with the things they do and say. It kind of weirds me out thinking that it all comes from me.

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  5. This struck me as funny! I never thought about writing in that way. We DO have voices in our head. Great post, Mirka!

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  6. I always say being a writer makes hearing voices a good thing. LOL. ;)

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  7. Mirka, I don't understand that part of the writing process either, but it's kind of my favorite part:)
    Marcia, that book by Jonah Lehrer sounds really interesting.

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  8. I am also fascinated by the creative process and where these people come from. And I have a friend with schizophrenia. One of the most interesting concepts I read came from a psychiatrist who believes that the disorder is caused by an overactive imagination.

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    1. Begs the question of what is the imagination, doesn't it?

      I have heard of studies of the connections between art and madness, but I don't go there. I’m of the school that imagination is what makes us fully human, and creative people are saner than sane : )

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