I was trying to explain writer crazy to a non-writer the other night and came up with this analogy…
Have you ever been to the circus? One with all three rings going on at once with different acts all at the same time, with barkers outside calling for people to come see the freak show, food trucks with cotton candy and corn dogs and French fries and popcorn and deep fried pickles and Mars bars and animal smells from the barn? Imagine that going on inside someone’s head. Then hear the du-du-dadda-da-da-du-du-dadda of the circus music. Now pour in your impressions of everything you’ve ever seen, everything you’ve ever done, every book you’ve ever read, every movie you’ve ever watched, every news report you’ve ever looked at, every funny face your little brother made when he was five, every pull of your pigtails by the boy behind you at school in the first grade, and every “MOOOOOM, she’s doing it AGAINNNN!!” you ever yelled at your sister as a kid. Shake until all the different things bouncing around start sticking to each other like caramel corn in a paper bag.
What comes out is what they put on a page, or the thought process that comes before putting it on the page.
When you see a writer starting off into blank space, and it seems like they aren’t really focusing on anything? Or you’re in a store with them and they come to an abrupt stop in the middle of the store, then you look in their eyes and you can almost see the hamsters running frantically on wheels inside? They’re trying to sift through all that stuff to solidify the idea that has suddenly popped out at them. That’s writer crazy.
Believe me when I say it’s nothing personal. It has nothing to do with anything that was going on before they got that glint in their eye and that slight sideways head-cock that signals that they’re on a little different angle.
Give it a few minutes. Quietly hand them a notepad and pen. Let them take a few notes. And then they’ll be back to you again.
If you’re the one dating the writer, just know that this is part of the package. Just like the football fan who wants to watch the game on Sunday, or the girl who has a corner of her bedroom allocated just for her shoes (or purses, books, scrapbooking supplies, fill in the blanks)…(or vice versa, since I’m not trying to be sexist here)…there are some things that are just part of who they are.
And when they ask you to go on a road trip to look at used RVs, or to a rubber band museum, or to go see an art exhibit that used nothing but used milk crates because it pertains to something they are writing…understand that they are sharing that crazy with you. It’s a good thing. It means you are passing the test of being able to understand the writer crazy that they live with. Enjoy it. You never know what you might see, what you might learn, or what you might find that you enjoy.