The Obsession

The life of a writer is often quite lonely. Even in a writing group or a room full of people furiously weaving words together, the creation of a new world has a strange way of trapping its creator inside.

Last night, I finished co-writing a script for a play and came back to my house, which felt empty and deserted, even though there were two cars in the driveway and the lights were on. It was as if I hadn’t been there in weeks, despite the fact that I had been home only a few hours before. I was coming out of a daze of character and plot that had thoroughly consumed me for more than a month. Even when I wasn’t writing, my mind was turning over the endless possibilities of the narrative. It’s the natural high of neurons firing continuously in the right hemisphere of the brain that can put an artist into a trance-like state. It’s great…until you emerge from it.

My room is a mess. Dirty and clean clothes are flung over the chairs and on the floor, empty bowls are piled high on my desk, envelopes and Post-It notes blanket my nightstand, and my bed looks as if it hasn’t been made in days. Who destroyed my living space? I guess it was me, while I was sunk deep in my creative madness.

It feels good — therapeutic, even — to get it all out onto the page, but as I pick up the mess, I wonder what else I haven’t made the time for, or have ignored all together. There is a single-mindedness to the creative process. It makes room for genius by pushing aside anything the mind (or the muse or the subconscious or what have you) considers to be “nonessential.” This has gotten me in trouble before. More than one woman has been jealous of the characters in my latest story.

It’s an incurable obsession, this whole writing business. It gets under your skin and burns like a fever. It’s an addiction — you become dependent on it. Perhaps that’s what makes it so lonely. When you’re so in love with your creation, where could anyone else hope to fit in?

For now, the thirst has been quenched and I get back to picking up the pieces of my life that I left scattered and abandoned at the end of August. In many ways, I wish I could descend under the surface of the insanity again, but for now, there’s a real world to get back to dealing with (begrudgingly). I know the cycle will bring me back soon enough.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is this: Be careful if you fall for a writer, because their affections will always be torn between two lovers.

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