Sunday, July 15, 2012


I've shared stories for almost as long as I can remember.  The first real memory I have of writing something down and then telling it to others comes from 4th grade where we'd write stories in a journal and then read them to the class.  Mine were usually some strange amalgamation of Star Wars - Return of the Jedi was coming out about that time - although I'd put my own spin on it.

In 6th grade, a few of us got together to write about alien invasions and ninjas that took over America(V and The Last Dragon were big then).  These tales never went anywhere, of course, but they felt good to write.

Round about 11th grade, I suddenly had this burst of ideas.  I remember sitting in English class and wondering what would happen if there was an alien attack.  This morphed into, what if it's not just an attack, but these aliens want to wipe out humanity?  Why would they do that?  I know - because we're too smart and they want to get us before we advance further and overtake them!  Yeah!
It wasn't enough that I came up with these crazy stories, but I had this insatiable urge to share them with other people.  I talked during lunch, and later at college, I talked about them during those late night dorm room philosophy sessions that college is so famous for.  In the alcohol induced haze that everyone was in, some people would even say something like, "That sounds so awesome!"  Of course, they'd pass out moments later in a pile of their own vomit and not remember saying that the next day, but it assuaged my ego.

As I entered my current career, I continued to spin yarns about fantastical people in far away lands and told them to whoever would listen.  I shared the background for Salvation Day with a buddy during an all night session, and his response, besides "wow," is something that has stuck with me to this day.

"Damn, you're nuts."

This caused me to go back and think about it, and I recalled several other people making this observation.  I wondered for a few seconds if I really was crazy and how many people thought so.  Then I figured it out:

Who cares?

I've come to realize that all writers have a touch of insanity, and that's probably a good thing.  Not many stable minds can come up with the kind of shit that runs through our heads, and certainly those stable minds can't tell those tales with such fervor that it entices others to read them.  When I look back at Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, and Stephen King, I see things that would get you locked up in a loony bin if they weren't published and recognized as "art."  What sane person thinks up a story about a psychic hotel that tries to kill a boy with an imaginary friend?  Who in their right mind could devise a story about a bunch of child geniuses that are able to fend of an alien attack from a group called the buggers?  Is there any way a mind with all its faculties generates a magical world where the most popular game is played on broomsticks?


Insanity, if harnessed and controlled, can be a good thing.  It spins us off into realms that society tells us we shouldn't go.  Most people will push such thoughts aside as either for children or not worth their time, but writers embrace these things.  Further, through our zeal, we allow others to join us in La La Land and feel okay about the journey.  Normal folks won't let their minds go there because the world tells them they shouldn't, but if someone leads them through the door, they'll happily follow, justifying it with, "Hey, I didn't dream this stuff up - I'm just an observer."

I don't think I could come up with the stories I do if I didn't possess a touch of insanity, and I think most writers will agree with me.  The ones that protest, "I'm not crazy!!!" are the ones whose stories fall flat and entertain no one.  Only through the crazy power of letting your imagination go into places we usually shun can you develop something that interests people.  After all, isn't reading really about escape?  Don't we read about Shane Evert and his travails against the Aalag to get away from our problems?  We can look at Katniss Everdeen and take heart that no matter how much of an asshole our boss is, at least we can't be made to compete in the Hunger Games.

Writers embrace their inner insanity.  It makes us strong and helps us understand our own psyche, as well as gives us therapy in the form of telling our warped tales to others.  As a bonus, it also keeps people away from us so we can continue to write.

No matter what happens to me in life, I hope my insanity remains with me.  Without such loony tunes singing in my head, life would get real boring, and who wants that?


  1. So....does this mean my story idea about a hotel that fulfills all the needs of its guests (including murder) is, um, normal? Hee Hee...

    You are definitely right though! I was always the odd one in school and it made perfect sense to me that people believed me when I spread a rumor about a girl at school being an outer space alien. :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Normal for anyone who sees a great story in it. For "regular people," not so much. But those folks are boring. :-D

      On a side note, I've really got to learn to start proofreading BEFORE I hit the publish button - it'd save me a lot in re-writes. :-P

  2. I agree, you have to have a certain bend in your personality to write, especially sci-fi fantasy. First you look at the orange, then you squeeze it for all it's worth. Then you drink the juice and what comes out afterward is pure fiction.

    I saw your post on Writer's Digest and thought I'd come visit. Great blog!

    1. Karen - thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy my blog.

      Are you saying that fiction is the pulp left over? :-D