Thursday, July 17, 2014

Calling A Writer a Cuckoo Can Be A Compliment by Betsy Ashton

Have you ever been called a cuckoo? Or nuts? Or a little off? How did you react? Did you thank the person? Did you get angry? Did you not understand what was happening?

If you've been called these names and thanked the person, odds are you are a writer. Many of us are more than a little bent. We listen to the voices in our heads. We carry on conversations with imaginary friends. Some of us walk around outdoors gesturing madly while we work out a thorny plot twist.

Family learns to tolerate our behavior. They find in us comic relief from the seriousness of daily life.

I work out plot twists in the middle of the night. As I lie in bed, in and out of sleep, plots take shape. Dialogue flows. Characters form. I thank my spiritual muse for these nights of enlightenment.

When this happens, do I get up and race down to the laptop? Turn on the bedside light, write a note and wake up my husband? No. If the plot twist, dialogue and characters are good, I'll work with them in the morning. Some mornings, after a night when the spirit muse is in full voice, I do race to the laptop and let my fingers fly over the keyboard. A good day sees 3000 words pour out, some of which will actually make it into the finished manuscript. Others will be crafted, massaged, rewritten and even deleted over time. At least the draft captures the moment.

Good days find me at the keyboard for many hours. Words flow. Words don't. When the voices in my head are quiet or are arguing among themselves, I take a break and work on some marketing activities. When the voices quit arguing, I look back at what brought on the argument. Often it leads to a new plot line. Sometimes it leads to a whole new concept for a manuscript. Sometimes they paralyze my fingers, rendering everything I type rubbish.

Call me cuckoo. Call me nuts. Please call me a writer.

And then there are days like today when the gummy bears are in charge and nothing makes sense.


Jannine Gallant said...

Oh yeah, we're all crazy to do what we do. What other profession has so many devoted followers willing to work for pennies per hour!

Alicia Dean said...

Yes, Betsy, I'm rather proud of my craziness. :) It's a trait most, if not all, writers share. Thanks for the entertaining post.

Betsy Ashton said...

I wear my craziness proudly. Hell, I was crazy before I became a writer.

Diane Burton said...

Great post, Betsy. There's fun in being crazy. LOL I also lie in bed and think about my stories before I sleep. Amazing what wonderful plot twists and dialogue pop into my head.

Donna Michaels said...

Love the post, Betsy. You already know I'm crazy and enjoy all it entails. Craziness leads an author to think out of the box and that's usually where the best plots come from, IMHO. ;-)

Betsy Ashton said...

When I'm working on the serial killer WIP, friends call my husband to be sure I haven't been practicing.

Leah St. James said...

I never thought about it, Betsy, but you're so right! I always call myself neurotic, and I even call myself out in my official bio. I think that "craziness" is what helps us develop complex plots. (Love your comment about your friends calling to check up on your hubby!) :-)