I’m Not Crazy, I’m a Writer!


Image by Sebastien Wiertz from Creative Commons

So I’m trolling through my book reviews on Goodreads and come across a comment another reviewer made about The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. The reviewer commented how odd it was for Grissom to insinuate that her characters told her the story, that even if a scene was disturbing to write, it had to be written down.

I can totally relate to this. The first time I revealed in one of my critique groups that there were people (characters) in my head trying to claw their way out, I expected strange looks or laughter.  Instead, there were head nods and similar tales.

Nice to know I’m not crazy…At least I don’t think so:

1. My characters rule: In my first manuscript, I was determined that there would be no love scenes. I’m not writing a romance, I told myself. But my characters thought otherwise. My creative juices were at a complete standstill because I was forcing my characters to do something they didn’t want to do. They were determined to have their love scene, and it was almost like they went on strike until I wrote it! Once I did, the picket line was removed… until something else ticked them off. Then we had to do the dance all over again.

2. Multiple personalities: Yes, there are people talking in my head. They have conversations with each other, conversations with me. Entire scenes play out in my dreams or in the shower or in the car. Sometimes I have to mouth them out loud, even the narrative portions. If I’m not having these conversations, especially with my dialogue, I know what I’m writing is not good.

3. There’s static in my head, too: Have you ever driven through a rural area and can’t get any radio reception? All you hear is static and maybe a few words here and there. That’s how stories start with me. I can’t write until that static clears. I have to be able to see and hear the whole scene (yes, in my head) before I sit down and write. Otherwise, that static gets on the page and I’ve just wasted several hours of my life on garbage.

4. Binging: Binging is when I go days without writing anything because I’m waiting for the static to clear. When it does, I can write for several consecutive days. After a scene or two are written, I might have a to wait until the static clears again before another writing binge happens. So no, I don’t creatively write every day. I tried that with a daily word count. That didn’t work for me because I was more concerned with quantity and not quality. I’d have to go back and erase thousands of words with nothing to show for it. Yeah, I might have written ten thousand words in a month, but only five thousand of them were good enough to stay on the page. And that’s before the critique group gets ahold of it.

I realized that, to normal folk, some of these might sound strange. I only say them out loud in the safety of critique groups or workshops. My therapy session, I call them.

I wonder, if you’re writer, can you relate to any of these issues? Do you experience anything “strange” as you write?

About Michelle McGill-Vargas

I hail from Gary, Indiana where I enjoy writing historical fiction, flash fiction, and short stories. My writings have appeared in "Lutheran Witness", "Splickety Magazine", "The Copperfield Review", "Typehouse Literary Magazine," and was a contributing writer to Concordia Publishing House's "Portals of Prayer" (October 2016). I've served as vice-president of the Indiana Writers' Consortium and am currently a board member of Midwest Writers. I am currently represented by Melissa Danaczko of Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, Inc. I pay the bills as a teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing. Visit my blog at www.michellemcgillvargas.wordpress.com
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4 Responses to I’m Not Crazy, I’m a Writer!

  1. krystal jane says:

    I say things like this to my siblings sometimes. My sister actually said to me once, “You know you can’t say things like this to other people, right?” Lol! It’s so normal to me, it’s like I don’t even notice it sometimes. Writers are the best. 🙂 In fact, I’m so glad you mentioned the static! That’s exactly what it’s like. I know writers who can write 2 thousand words a day, everyday, but I can’t do that. When my head is clear though, I can sometimes crank out 5 and 6 thousand words a day, everyday for a week, so I guess it evens itself out!

  2. I know. Every writer has their own way of creating or writing or whatever. I’ve since learned that there’s no perfect way. There maybe crazy– like mine– but hey, if it work, it works! Go with it! Happy writing!

  3. Helen Brandt says:

    Love your explanation on how you write , get ideas, argue with your characters, etc. Made me smile. Wish that I were more creative! (Smile) Love, Your Godmother.

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