Do writers have to be intelligent and well-adjusted to be good at what they do? Are we, by default, more knowledgeable or insightful? Are we more self-aware because we can better articulate our emotions?
I don’t think so.
Some of the most self-destructive people I know are writers. Vain, isolated and insensitive. Yet they are also some of the most interesting human beings I interact with. Prone to kindness, observant poignancy and witticism. A writer’s appetite to learn is often large, as is his/her capacity to love. But intelligent, emotionally-stable or even rational?
People would never believe those things if they understood the process of writing. It isn’t always a luminously-poignant experience. We don’t learn to love ourselves through it. We aren’t any surer of our places in this world because of it. We body-surf across a raging sea of excitement, self-loathing, anger, lust, pain, passion, ecstasy and apple juice. We saunter towards the shore after a while, adjusting our hair, and pretend that everything is okay.
We just make it sound like we have it all under control.
We don’t write because we can. We do so because we have to. There isn’t a choice. How can we not? Is it even possible? Seriously, you should tell me.
I euthanize my thoughts when I am unable to write. If I don’t have the time or the energy for it, I feel invalidated. I begin to scratch itches that don’t exist. Claustrophobia kicks in. I hum incandescent melodies. I yearn to get the monkey off my back.
Go away, evil simian. Pick the scabs on someone else’s wounds. Leave me alone. Climb a tree or something. I can learn how to play the guitar. Or take up gardening. Most of all, I can spend a few months without expressing myself through words.
But, what the hell do I know? I am just a writer.
Sticks and stones