I believe that all good artists are insane.
I’m a writer, and a good one. That sounds egotistical to some people, but it’s true. I read my own writing and enjoy what I’m reading (usually) and only very rarely do I encounter someone who simply does not like my writing. People sometimes have constructive criticism, what I call concrit, and that’s good! I love criticism, I always want to improve, it’s the food of my creativity. But almost everyone I meet who reads my writing likes it, despite its problems.
The catch here is that I am insane.
I truly believe this. Often, I will write something and go back to read it later, and not remember writing it at all. It’s like reading a book I’ve heard a few things about, but never read before. This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes writing is like breathing, and I read it later and think “who wrote this? No, really.” Sometimes writing is like childbirth, and I have to fight for every word on the screen. In the pieces I birth instead of breathe, I know every word intimately and can recite entire paragraphs from memory days later, despite the fact that I usually don’t like them.
I like to think that my strong suit is characterization. I can very easily create a character in my head with a complete and multifaceted personality. These characters write themselves — I refer to them as muses or headvoices and they often do things that I do not expect. Does this sound familiar? Like schizophrenia or multiple personalities, maybe? My own characters make me angry sometimes — Tony goes between whiny emo kid and infuriatingly cheerful, Pat is too innocent for his own good, Nikki and Jonne are too whorish for their own good, Lindsay is an idiot who needs to get over her teenage hangups already…the list goes on.
Most of the writers I know experience the same thing with characters. Most of my friends have described similar experience to mine, where they sit back and watch the words they’re typing show up on the screen, watch what their muses are doing as if they were only observers, not involved in the situation in any way, and go “you are an idiot. Don’t do that, there is no way it ends well.” When we encounter someone who hasn’t had this experience, we look down on them. It’s not a conscious thing – we can’t help it. But we all know the feeling that your writing and your characters are coming from a place other than your conscious mind, and we can’t imagine writing if we had access to only this part of our minds. It’s almost pity.
Competent artists are legitimately insane.