Friday, February 17, 2006

Are all writers tortured souls?

Writers are vain, selfish and lazy and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon one can neither resist or understand. –
George Orwell

Writing is a form of therapy: sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in a human situation. –
Graham Greene

So are writers crazy tortured souls compelled to write by unknown forces or madness or do we write to try to escape the madness? I think that questioning falls in line of which came first the chicken or the egg?

Throughout history some of the greatest minds were tortured souls. The old saying about a fine line between genius and insanity is so true. Van Gogh, Hemmingway, Abraham Lincoln all suffered from depression. Many other writers and artists were thought to be crazy or mad; others dealt with their madness through using and abusing drugs and alcohol. I wonder why there is such a link between creativity, depression and substance abuse. Maybe there is something extra sensitive about the mind and soul of a person with what I call artistic temperament. Are there any writers or artists out there who are normal? Artists that are happy, well adjusted people? There has to be. Yet, what I mainly have always seen is the tortured soul, creative minds tortured by inner demons. I know I’ve dealt with and am still dealing with my inner demons. I haven’t found a cure but writing and expressing myself creatively does help. Thankfully I haven’t fallen into the trap of drugs and alcohol just nicotine and caffeine, lately only caffeine – since I’ve stopped smoking for like the 20th time.

I know I feel compelled to write yet sometimes that can be the hardest thing for me to do, the last thing I get to on my to-do list that is always 10 miles long. Yet writing or creating is the only thing I ever really want to be doing. It’s like Gloria Steinem said, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”