Creative and crazy is craved

The Labyrinth of the mind: http://upload.wikimedia.org.

It`s often said that creative people are at best a bit mental and at worst—completely nuts. Although I don`t consider myself nuts—and neither do the people locked away in mental institutions—I sometimes display the behavior of a man that might need some meds (laughing).

I saw this very claim in raw form at a recent Spoken Word Poetry event (some call it Slam Poetry) hosted by University of North Georgia which featured #Neil Hilborn. I wasn`t sure how to take Hilborn at first. I did enjoy several of his poems but I have to admit I think he`s found a niche in his own admission of being OCD, neurotic, and basically, all around, mentally ill. I left with the odd feeling that crazy was profitable for some. My point is that we all have a bit of neurosis and that`s okay. I believe it`s human nature from the baggage we collect along life`s trail. These stories, these bags of trash, these painful or tragic experiences can become a treasure trove of writing material without embellishment.

I pondered this recently as I was sitting on my back porch staring at the view. There is an old farm house to the left corner of my back yard, a beautiful grass field in the middle, and a large modern barn with well-groomed grass surrounding it to my right. The back drop behind all this is a small forest that eventually ends at the banks of Lake Lanier about a half mile away. My neighborhood never bears the sound of anything but birds. There I sat, staring and listening to the sound of a Carolina Wren. Its whistle sounds sort of like a drunk man whose lips aren`t wet enough to make a clear whistle sound. I felt a slight chill as I watched the trees sway and twist ever so slightly. The sun was like a light bulb with a white sheet over it. I was just sort of…there. I intended to write a poem. No dice.

I walked to the kitchen and opened the fridge. I stared. I looked over several choices…none would do. I thought about a new fiction novel I was reading. Ah yes, I would lay in my warm bed—with my electric heated blanket—and read. An hour later there I was still staring at Facebook. Mindlessly scrolling. I woke up at five and realized I had been asleep for over an hour. Another wasted day? The thought crossed my mind, am I nuts? Am I depressed?

I thought about the nuts in my family tree. My heritage is like taking a trip to a mental institution. But, the thing is, we had—and still do—a lot of talented and creative people in my family: writers, painters, doll makers, artists, and many other artisans. I realized that I`m not crazy—although some would argue different—I`m just easily bored if I`m not doing something worthwhile. I`m sort of like a bi-polar person that`s not actually bi-polar…do you follow me?

These are the very stories that magazines, journals, online bloggers, and publishers are looking for in the memoir genre. Also, we can take the realities of our lives, and the lives of others, to use as a skeletal structure of a good fiction novel. I think we can say that crazy and creative go hand-in-hand. In fact, I think it`s somewhat therapeutic for writers and artists of all types to use our life experiences to create our works. Or…am I nuts?

Scott

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4 comments

  1. OK…one more comment. First, that was a fun read. Engaging, with some lovely descriptions.

    It touches on a subject that is close to me, and here’s why: I have been a professional ceramic artist. I won a national award English award while in high school, in part for my poetry. I have danced with the Utah ballet (small part – not as a company member). I swept the theater department awards my freshman year for Puck, in Midsummer Night’s dream.

    And eventually, I became a psychotherapist. I treat PTSD and dissociative identity disorder (DID), two notoriously tough diagnoses. The second is far too often mistaken for schizophrenia, with tragic consequences. It’s one thing for a writer not to know what real crazy is, and it’s quite another when a mental health professional gets it wrong. For too many of my clients, this has been their exact experience. And it continues to happen to those with DID. Appalling.

    So, while I tried not to sound off here, I finally felt I had to: “crazy” surely does have multiple meanings, in actual usage. There are several reasons for this, but in the end this is unfortunate.

    “I’m crazy about you!” (Well, not really, but it does catch a bit of the flavor of the experience, yes?)

    “That guy Trump is plan nuts!” (Yeah, I agree, but not crazy. Personality disordered, most likely. A different diagnosis.)

    So what’s REAL crazy? Real crazy is relatively rare. It’s psychosis, the core but not the whole of schizophrenia. We think it’s an organic glitch in the brain which cases our creative free-flowing consciousness to be mistaken for the reality outside our skulls, and vice versa. It sure looks that way, up close.

    To be different is not to be crazy, not is being creative. Being crazy is dysfunctional, as is all mental illness. There is no advantage in it. It is painful, and usually leads to social exclusion, which adds to the pain. Some few people manage to lead productive, even creative lives in spite of mental illness. Few of them have any real degree of psychosis, however.

    If the non-creatives see the creatives as crazy, there is some comfort to be had by them, it appears. But only for them. Do not wish to be crazy. You won’t like it.

    Whew. I feel much better now. Same time next week?

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