Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Call Me Crazy!

by Hannah Roveto

Consider this quote from this week's Grub Street Rag (worth checking out even if you don't live near Boston for the header quotes and the contest):

"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” ~ Meg Chittendon

How many times have you tried to explain what it feels like to write to a non-writer? "The characters tell me what to do." "What did you say? I was in Chicago." (You are sitting in Boston.) "I had my head stuck in the dryer, and it came to me: I needed to kill Aunt Elizabeth."

Okay, so we sound crazy. Why, then, do we get a pass while someone else might be carted off to the psychologist? Because, as is evidenced by the posts Monday and yesterday, we take those far-off lands and those imaginary people and through determination and craft and utter magic, we make them real not just for ourselves, but for others. They can see them, too. Once we release our creations into the world, they are public spaces, public entities. Others will talk about them, wonder about them, maybe take them on as their own (fanfic, anyone?).

Don Juan DeMarco is one of my favorite movies, a somewhat treacly fairy tale brought to life by an amazing cast. Johnny Depp plays a young man who insists on wearing a Zorro costume, explains that he is Don Juan DeMarco, descended from the Don Juan. He wishes to die at the hands of his arch-enemy, and waits atop an L.A. building demanding the man be brought to him. The police bring in psychologist Marlon Brando, a man about to retire, living his everyday life at the office and at home with Faye Dunaway. The young man tells him the story of his life, what has brought him to this point where he waits for death. Is it true? Is he crazy? His world is compelling and yet he wants none of it; is it really part of our world, or not? It is interesting to watch this movie with writers and non-writers alike.

I saw Don Juan over the weekend, was musing about what is real and what is not and the overlap between them the day before the Grub Street Rag above appeared in my inbox. Coincidence? Not if you believe in the Muse, and in voices telling you to keep at it, to keep making things appear out of thin air for the world's amusement.

(On a less philosophic note, it occurs to me that the Writing World does not have a name for Non-Writers, and yes, I am borrowing from J.K. Rowling in this analogy. Or does Muggle work in this case, too? Suggestions?)


Larramie said...

How about the "lonely?" ;)

Anonymous said...

"I had my head stuck in the dryer, and it came to me: I needed to kill Aunt Elizabeth."

That was so funny.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

It really came to me, Usman, that I needed to get rid of a character as I was switching the laundry. Sounds way better the first way, doesn't it?! And Larramie, I agree. I was going to put down ideas for Non-Writer terms, but all were very Writerist (Writer-Centric?) I imagine that people who don't write live in a world with fewer dimensions, with no overlap of what is and what else might be in quite the same way.