I Was Normal–Then I Wrote My First Story

I Was Normal—Then I Wrote My First StoryBefore I even get started I guess I probably need to disclaim my title. The very fact that I was the type of person who wanted to write a story in the first place probably means I was never normal. Stories running rampant in my head, imaginary people demanding my attention, random bits of dialogue popping off my tongue. Yeah, most definitely not normal.

But it gets better—or worse, depending on how you look at it.

In her lauded writing memoir Bird by Bird, Anne Lamont admits:

Being a writer guarantees that you will spend too much time alone—and that as a result, your mind will begin to warp.

It’s no secret among artists that we have a unique perspective of the world. The universe bends around our brains in strange patterns. Famed psychiatrist Carl Gustave Jung noted:

The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him.

The Compulsion of Writing

There is a compulsion about art. We write in spite of ourselves. We’d have more money and fewer ulcers if we pursued some other line of work.

Some of us have even tried to give it up.

But we can’t.

We can’t escape the call of words on a page, the inspiration that burns in our veins like adrenaline, the nonexistent people and places that explode from our imaginations into color and sound. Henry Miller explained that writing is:

…a turning inside out and voyaging through X dimension, with the result that somewhere along the way one discovers that what one has to tell is not nearly so important as the telling itself.

Who Wants to Be Normal?

I happily surrender the dubious honor of “being normal” in order to be a pilgrim in this journey.

I am a writer. Therefore I am not sane. Edgar Allan Poe

Sign me up for the Not Normal Club, complete with T-shirt. My qualifications?

  • Daydream at the breakfast table
  • Take long walks by myself so I can talk to my characters
  • Consider hospital visits research
  • Choreograph action scenes with a butter knife
  • Call my computer by its first name (Quorra)
  • Read baby name books like they were pulp novels
  • Plan to save my books first in case of fire
  • Know the real name for that curvy hyphen doohickey (~)

Have I reached the red zone of weirdness, yet? No? Well, send me back to my stories for a few years, and I’m sure I’ll get there.

Strange often equals special. And, although I’m entirely prejudiced, I have to qualify writers as a very special bunch. Those of us endowed with this wacky life are blessed beyond measure. We dream dreams, we see visions—and we get to write them all down to share with others. Makes normalcy a pretty small sacrifice in comparison, doesn’t it?

P.S. Just in case you were wondering about the curvy hyphen doohickey: It’s called a tilde.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What’s your weirdest writer habit? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Good that I am not normal to begin with. But who cares, this is paranormal era after all 😉

  2. LOVE THIS.

  3. I totally get this! Even if you leave your characters alone for a while, they are like old friends that will open the door to welcome you when you come back. I like to think that writers get to not only live the one life they have, but the lives of all their characters too! (And I was wondering what that doohickey was. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Totally! That’s exactly how I’ve always viewed the writing life: it lets me live so many lives beyond just my own.

  4. I already knew it’s called a tilde, but I think I like “curvy hyphen doohickey” more.

    I recently bought a journal specifically for talking to imaginary fr- I mean, characters to mine out their quirks and mannerisms. After a couple days of regular talks with these people I found myself looking forward to spending time with them. Not looking forward to writing or working on the story, but to “spending time with people who don’t exist”. I think I’m damaged and I’m okay with that.

  5. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? As time goes on, I write more and more consistently.

    I think writing is therapeutic. But I know what you’re talking about. A minor section of one of my stories involves a rat who is magically transformed into a gelatinous mass and back.

    “…the stuff grew bones and flesh and skin and hair, and the rat was restored…”

    I hope to work my courage up to actually read horror stories someday. But from the bit I have witnessed in other media, I like to think Lovecraft will be a staple of my collection.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hah! That’s the kind of stuff that makes your family wonder where they went wrong. 😉

      • The truly horrifying part is when I see about online publishing. But that’s just lack of confidence.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          You mean self-publishing? There are certainly caveats to be aware of, but, all in all, it’s great. All but one of my books have been published independently.

  6. I just remembered this <- see how organized she is? – I have a slim folder in the second drawer of my desk (to the right) which holds very old manuscripts, essays, papers. I will not thrown them away. Why?

    Have you ever made sourdough bread? You always leave a lump of it in the fridge to "seed" the next batch. If/when this folder erupts, I will let you and EVERYONE know. It makes sense to me! Mary Ellen

    btw, I avoid using the term "normal" – as a student reminded me, "that's just a setting on a dryer." ~

  7. This was such a well timed post for me. I self published my second novel today, “Angels Above and Below” and considering I’m a pretty shy person generally, am currently sitting here thinking “Why on earth have I laid my soul bare, again?” But writing is a compulsion, one which I hope is a bit healthier than others I could have picked! But yeah, I don’t think normal belongs in my world.

  8. Check, check, and check on all those Not Normal Club Qualifications; except I’ve never choreographed action scenes with a butter knife! Most of the time I convince my weaponaholic brother to pull out the longbow or katana. 🙂

    In all seriousness, thanks for the post. It’s great to know that at least one person understands.

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