Writing Your Novel: Is Sharing Your Unique Brand of Craziness Really Going to Help Anyone?

I know it has been a long time since I made a post. For that, I apologize. For the past week or so, I have been tossing around the idea of making a post all about the amazing recipes I have been creating lately. In the many weeks that it has been since I have stopped smoking cigarettes, I have become obsessed with healthy food. Partially because it is a replacement for the oral fixation aspect of my addiction, and partially because I figure that eating healthy things will prevent me from eating unhealthy things and feeling disgusting. So I was going to do that, and tell you all about the amazing wonders of chia seeds and raw cacao nibs and reishi mushrooms, but instead, I am compelled to make a different type of post dealing with vulnerability and the incredibly irritating process of trying to figure out how to access it for a book that one is going to write.

I have been working on a book for the past few years. It is all about my travels, my adventures, my cornucopia of freshly harvested ambitions, sprinkled with the candies of addictive and destructive behaviors. In the time that I have been working on it, the thing has sometimes taken on a life of its own, like a child. Or an experiment gone wrong. At first, I was completely in control of it. I just had to spew out all of my thoughts and memories, feverishly flipping through old journals to find the pages where I happened to make a visual snapshot of what was around me so that I could use it, and the book had nothing to say about this. The book was fine with this process, it may have even been encouraging me.

But now, things are different. The book is repelling itself from me. The book is not happy. Almost in a Little Shop of Horrors type of way. My book does seem to want blood. It does not want me to find that blood in others, of course. It simply wants me to share something that I have not yet tapped into. Something I conveniently glossed over as I recounted each memory and vivid detail.

So here is my problem. A few people have read the rough drafts and claimed that they felt entertained. They enjoyed the story, the process of the story, the feeling that they were there. If people can read my book and feel that they left all their part-time work behind and took to the road, living out dreams of hitch hiking and learning the healing arts and herbal medicine, then that makes my mission complete in a way. I want them to feel that, I want them to get the sense that they are on an adventure of the deepest nature, that they have truly taken all that they know, held it in their hands, threw it to the wind and kept traveling and seeing what else was out there. I want them to feel that in case they never actually got the chance to experience it in their real lives before.

However, I also do not want to paint an unrealistic picture. I was not traveling because I was free, and I was not traveling because I was marching to the beat of my own drum. I’m sure those things came into it, but the core of the issue was that I was running to try and find a way to stop my own self-loathing. I was trying to find the way of life that would make me stop hating my body, make me accept myself as it seemed that others were doing.

The last thing I want to do is portray a story where I fake it, where I appear to be possessing the exact imaginary mind state that I was chasing after in others. My major skill in life has always been to pick a group of people, stare at them from afar, assume that they really felt the feeling of happiness, and then do all that I could to become part of their magical way of life. In some cases, this method has definitely taught me a lot about happiness and my own mind. In every single case, it taught me something. But the main thing that I learned is that no one way of life has all of the answers. The answer is available, at any moment, but it has nothing to do with whether or not you know how to hitch hike or whether or not you have a job.

What I am wondering is how to give my book the blood it wants. I do not know. I want to share my vulnerability, my particular brand of insanity, but I do not know how. This is what I must learn. I have a feeling that others would relate to the book if I included that side of things; the hard part is choosing how to insert these things into a book that is mostly written, and also to simply have the courage to put those things in. If there are ways that you feel that you rarely even share with some of the people that are closest to you, how can you put them into a book for anyone to see? Are those types of details going to give the book more power for the few people that can relate, or is it going to make it something that is now a niche-marketed psychology book meant for only those who are as crazy as me?

The problem is not that a stranger is going to see it; so much as the fact that those who you are closest to are also going to be reading it as well. At least, that is what feels most potent for me.

In terms of this blog, I am not sure where this post exactly fits in. It is my own personal struggle that I must give voice to, perhaps someone else out there will find it useful. I suppose one of the best things to remember is that it can be incredibly detrimental to assume that everyone besides you is much happier and better off. There was even the study in Men’s Health that talked about why having too many Facebook friends can be detrimental to your self-esteem. This is why I feel compelled to make this post, and to be honest, both here and in my book.

Harness that vulnerability, people. You’re the only one that can. The sooner you do it, the sooner you feed that blood to all your creative endeavors and learn to let it flow comfortably, the less you’ll have to struggle with it later as you try to let it have even the teeniest of voices in the book you are trying to write.

4 thoughts on “Writing Your Novel: Is Sharing Your Unique Brand of Craziness Really Going to Help Anyone?

  1. I love everything about this post. There are two ways you can go about it I feel like– you can do what Sylvia Plath did and make it a third person story where the narrator isn’t you but still keep it pretty autobiographical. Or you can keep it as you being the narrator…that would make it more genuine. But you shouldn’t even concern yourself with what those closest to you think because they’re going to care for you regardless of how you portray yourself, otherwise they really only care about one side of you. Of course, this is only my two cents, and you have to do what’s most comfortable for you to do. :)

  2. Please. PLEASE be honest! You just never know who shares the same emotions that you do. I can’t wait to see the changes to your book.

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