And then there’s the point where I really get cooking on the rough draft where Guy starts to make himself invisible, sliding chi tea across my desk and making sure I don’t answer the phone or door. It’s not that he’s protecting my writing time. He’s trying to keep the neighbors from knowing I’m temporarily nuts.
I wasn’t writing when we first met, and in fact, he had several years of normalcy with me before it got bad, but there is a definite but subtle shift in the head when you spend so much time with “what if,” and it comes to a point when writing rough draft and the brain has a naturally elevated level of creativity running through it.
It’s not an obvious change, and most people won’t even realize there is a shift in persona if they meet it casually. Editors recognize and dread it, knowing that they have to deal with the crazy to get to the good stuff. Agents haunt the halls of conferences looking for it, hoping the woman muttering to herself in the corner might be “the big one” and not a homeless person in a suit. Other writers recognize kindred sufferers without realizing it, often meeting in informal groups called “writer workshops” which are thinly disguised self-help meetings where, in a moment of lucidity, we might come to grips that we can’t kick the addiction, but perhaps we can learn to live with it.
Those who knows us well recognize the hints of the changes that signify a relapse and will take pains to keep us separated from normal people lest we embarrass them and ourselves. There is nothing sadder for our loving caretakers than to find themselves in a coffee shop ordering a cup to go and having us blurt out, “I had such a great day yesterday. I finally figured out how I can kill him!” Do they ignore us? Edge away like the guy standing behind us in line? No, they smile and pull us closer, beaming as they say, “That’s great! I knew you could do it!” Such understanding, though, only makes makes our insanity all the more obvious.
So be kind when you see us, standing at a street corner, analyzing the way the shadow from the cross walk seems to make a interdimensional portal as the cars race through it, because after all, it’s all just make believe until someone puts it on paper.