I wrote a book. Not a grand announcement if you know me. Just something you might expect from a person always buried in the fairy tale. So that book was written, and I decided to start on number 2. One might assume after you have written a massively detailed story about a journey through life, you could simply right a story about murder and mayhem. You would think the fiction would be so much easier than a novel based losely on oneself. You would be wrong.
My first book was in first person. I found it easier to write this way, since essentially it was about me. Now, if Oprah ever asks I am going to tell her it is pure fiction, but between me and you and the screen, the real truth is I can’t write without adding bits of my soul and the truth of my life. Honestly, most days my life is so out there, it makes for a good story anyways.
This new book is written in third person. And that is only one of the thousands of reasons that it is harder. I have to move outside myself to write a story, that while I may know the feelings of, don’t necessarily know how I would react to. My main character isn’t me, in disguise or in any other way. She has her own faults, her own needs and those are not the same as my own. Writing the first book and then simply asking myself, what would I do, was rather easy. Asking what a character that has been living in my head for months is going to do? Totally at her whim.
The characters in the first book didn’t need to drive me, the story was very much written before I even sat down. There was no blank pages, no words lost in the haze of day dreaming, and truly those characters were nice. This second book – the characters literally don’t do anything I want them to do, they are constantly fighting, and they have absolutely no regard for the fact that I actually work for a living. And even when they finally decide to give me that little bit, they turn sullen and decide to hide for two weeks.
I have tried all the tricks: write even though you have nothing to say, ignore the voices, piss off the voices, listen to really loud music and drown those puppies. But the truth is they are there. And they are angry. And they may even have a right to be angry. Voices in our heads, whether we wish them there or not, have their own values and their rules, and you’d best be following.
The problem with these voices is I don’t have time to listen to their full story. I can’t lock myself in a dark room with a 12 pack of Coke, and a carton of cigerrettes, and listen. I have children to feed and entertain. I can’t disappear into the vastness of their worlds, because my world needs me just as much. I can understand other writer’s need for drugs and alcohol; what I don’t know is if they were trying to quiet the voices, or become the voices. As much as I wish I could fall into the tall they so desperately wish to tell me, I don’t know how. What part of my day do I give up? Sleep?
Last night the voices decided I didn’t need sleep. Using their fingers they tickled my legs, and came up with a showtune to sing in my head. They cried out the sorrow they aren’t supposed to feel until chapter seven, and they resolved problems to issues I hadn’t even made up yet. And so I didn’t sleep; but in a fit of rebellion I didn’t write either. Can you train the voices in your head? If I refuse to write their words will they eventually learn to only talk to me when I demand?
[On a side note, a 2007 article was published in The New York Times regarding, “Auditory Hallucinations”. According to the article, “For more than a half-century, auditory hallucinations have primarily been studied and discussed in terms of severe mental illness, most notably schizophrenia, and linked to bizarre delusions, disordered thought and emotional dissociation.” However it is important to note that not everyone believes this. An organization – a great organization – called Hearing Voices Now, “does dispute [sic] that the psychological anguish caused by hearing voices is indicative of an overarching mental illness.” This paragraph is for any of you who wish to sit there and deny that the very voice you are hearing at this moment is real.]
Sometimes it is absolutely scary being me. I worry about my children, and the day they realize their mother isn’t all the way sane. I worry that my husband is going to figure it all out, and take my children from me. I am terrified that my mother is going to come sweeping down from high, and drag me kicking and screaming do I hospital I don’t know. I worry that the reality I so easily talk about here in these pages, alarms others. I worry that my normalcy is someone else’s fear.
I talk lightly in these forums about the voices in my head. A way for me to acknowledge them, a way for others to see everything is okay, and a way for me to pretend that for one moment that I haven’t rendered my world stupid by the ongoing confession.
The world that I live in, one with meds and one with voices, coexists nicely for me. I have rough days, and I have days when the voices literally make me wish that I could scream. But I read somewhere that sanity is the ability to give and receive love. And since every time I look at my children I not only see but feel the love that makes me alive, I guess by someone’s definition I am sane.
Now if those voices in my head could be sane as well?