There’s a myth about creative minds. There’s a feeling, long-established, that creative minds are a bit bonkers.
I do not know if this is universally true.
It is my experience that all sorts of people write, and that many of them seem just like you and me.
That rather begs the question, ‘What are you and I really like?’
I do not mind admitting that I am a little bit bonkers.
I do not mind admitting that, while I lead a very ordinary life, running an office, raising kids, enjoying a bit of reading and writing, and drawing and music, I am also the sort of person who feels things... really feels things.
Other people point out, from time to time, that I react strongly to things. I know that I laugh and cry too readily, and that I carry around a very sturdy little soapbox for when I get exercised about any given subject, and I do get exercised... I do take it all very personally.
I also know that there are things I choose not to do because they scare the be-Jesus out of me. I do not watch 18 certificate movies, unless the husband has seen them first, I do not go alone to the dentist, and I am that sad mutt that requires a dose of valium to get on a plane.
I call that wise. Do you know what a plane is? Do you know what it does? Getting on a plane without a valium is what’s insane, if you think about it.
How does this relate to writing? I’ll tell you how.
How is a writer adequately to portray a wide range of emotions experienced by her characters if she cannot tap into them in her own self?
I do not want to write an hysterical novel. I do want my thoughts to be ordered, controlled, restrained. I do want to deconstruct my own feelings and then rebuild them, convincingly, within a context.
I think being able to summon up a feeling, being able to recreate it and serve it up fresh and new in any situation is a great strength and a rare privilege.
I think, perhaps, that is why so many extraordinary writers, whatever their genres, have widespread, even universal appeal.
I know that I will never scale the giddy heights of artistic excellence that some of our great writers have achieved, but, if I have a little something in common with Virginia Wolf or Spike Milligan, I hope I have the sense to stop the wailing and the gnashing of teeth for long enough to celebrate my very great good fortune.