Note: This article is written more for adult writers.
I have three challenges to my writing. I call them, Temptation, Critic, and Wraith.
Temptation is a voluptuous Aphrodite in a slinky, red sequenced dress. Her body moves like ripples on the surface of a moonlit lake. Her long blonde hair is perfectly styled, in an elegant imitation of Marilyn Monroe. Her temptations are many, the temptations of the writing lifestyle, or at least what I, in my youth, thought was the writing lifestyle. Depression is her greatest tool. "Only through suffering can great art be produced." There are more. Alcohol, drugs, and sex come to mind. Through these, she offers a wealth of stories. A chance to truly live life. Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Shelly, Poe, the list is endless. Look at the way they lived, look at the great art they produced. She holds the ruby red apple before me, "All the answers you seek are here," she says. She panders to some writers' natural tendencies to be depressed, hermit alcoholics. She twists our uniqueness, our sensitivity, and our sentimental hearts, into something deformed and repulsive. She turns us into bitter jaded writers who are only capable of producing bizarre abstractions.
Then there is the common complaint of the writer, the critic. My inner critic is all of my English teachers rolled into one, with a touch of my mother thrown in for good measure. He is bald, in his early fifties, with a tan muscular body. His crisp white shirt sleeves are rolled neatly up to his elbows, a Cary Grant style hat sits jauntily on his head. When I am being particularly awful he will rip this hat off his head, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it. When I first put my fingers to the keyboard his protests are gentle, but soon they become full-blown tantrums. His face reddens, veins bulge on his forehead, and spittle flies from his mouth. "You spelled that wrong. Your grammar is terrible. Your characters are as flat as pancakes. You suck so much you even have me using clichés!" His voice invades my every thought, until all inspiration is driven from my head, and I cannot put pen to paper.
Then there is the most insidious of the three, the Wraith. I call him this because of the way his formless body curls around the feet of the other two. He is less than shadow; he is the unspoken idea of my greatness. He is my secret that I only subscribe to the Buddhist faith because of my belief that I am the reincarnation of Shakespeare, (please remember it is not nice to laugh at another's beliefs). The Wraith is my greed, my need for recognition. He is also my hope, that should I die before I am published, my children will find my writing, and upon reading my work, will exclaim with tears in their eyes, "This is genius, such heartbreaking prose, our mother was a prophet!" They will, of course, forgive my every parenting mistake as they run to the nearest publishing house, where (the world having finally caught up with my genius), I will be immediately published. The Wraith does not come out often, but just a little misplaced ego is enough to ruin what little talent someone might have.
At this time, I would like to state that I am not suffering from schizophrenia, at least not anymore then any other writer. As you can imagine, it is hard to accomplish anything with these voices in my head, and I wish I could say I knew how to turn them off, but alas, I do not. All I know for sure is that I have to keep going no matter how loud they get. Just like every writer, I have to keep going or face the consequences of letting my stories die inside me untold. I think I would rather listen to a few figments of my imagination than face that.
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