I’ve come to realize that a degree of mental instability (lets call it flexibility) is necessary to writers. Unless they are able to move with ease from one world to the next, they won’t be successful.
I work on publicity and business by day, and creativity by night. I’m currently promoting my first book, Receive Me Falling. I attend book clubs, signings, and festivals. I connect with readers on message boards and social networking websites. I’m also heavy into the research and writing of a second book set in Hemingway’s Key West. In addition to the novels, I’m working on a specific set of revisions for a project. I’m blogging. I’m Tweeting. And by the way, I have a husband, three boys, and a dog.
In addition to mental flexibility, I’ve become a masochist and a voyeur. I wouldn’t say I take pleasure from pain and suffering, but after it’s over, I use it for my writing.
Last week, in North Carolina, my family had a scary experience in the water. The ocean looked deceptively calm, but the undertow was strong. Some older men got stuck off shore and couldn’t get in. My husband and brother-in-law swam out to help them and also got stuck. My family members were able to make it back to shore before the ambulance came, but the men (who luckily had a flotation device) were still stuck. Another man onshore brought a rope from his beach house and had his son hold it while he swam out to them. Then everyone towed in the men.
Once everyone was safe onshore–and I’m not proud of this–I started thinking about how I could use it in my fiction. The emotions, the conflict, and the situation itself were so compelling it would make for a great scene. And I’m not the first writer to do this. Ernest Hemingway published A Movable Feast as fiction and didn’t even bother to change the names of his “characters” from their real life counterparts.
I imagine this will all get worse before it gets better. I don’t even know if I want to get better. I enjoy all of the facets of a writer’s life.
As long as the lines don’t get blurred, I’ll be okay.