Living Outside Your Head

I like to make up stuff.

So I write fiction.

It might seem that inventing people and their made-up lives would be a fairly uncomplicated thing–not necessarily the mechanics, which are often painful, brain wrenching, and altogether frustrating –but rather the inventing part. The part where you build your creation brick by brick and move things around the board, following the gumdrop trail until at long last you reach the Sparkly Candy Castle.

Most days it feels good …

… some days it’s shout from the mountaintops exhilarating. Other times it’s more crash and burn–can we get someone in here to sweep up the ashes, please?

And consuming.  Honestly, but it’s nothing if not consuming.

And that’s a problem. A big fat, festering problem that swells and groans with the weight of living exclusively inside your head.

You see, it’s likely the rest of the world hasn’t paused to read the memo pasted on your forehead that announces you’re a writer. Your mortgage company still expects the check to arrive on time, the call made to your doctor to discuss those lab results, your child’s school still expects you to fill out the pink emergency card BEFORE an actual emergency arises.

As a registered citizen of the planet Earth, there are essential moments when you need to crawl out from beneath the debris piled-up inside your head and address the here and now. All of which is reasonable, understandable, and generally accepted.

Except when it’s not.

Such as when you’re up to your eyeballs with the urgency of piling pages, hellbent on clearing the crevasse, scaling the mountain, walking into the light … inasmuch as the words don’t, won’t, wait.  You well understand to scramble.  To  strive to catch them before they sprint away–even as the phone rings, the buzzer sounds on the clothes dryer, the vein ruptures and bleeds out onto the page.

And always is the question inside my head,

“How it is that I can justify putting such importance on made-up things?”  Why is something so non-essential to the world at large, so, well, essential, to me in my little corner of the world?  So necessary to who I am?


And you? Care to climb outside of your head for a moment and share your passion 😀


14 thoughts on “Living Outside Your Head

  1. Art and craft is all about “made up things” – staring at an empty space and imagining a novel or a crocheted scarf or the painting of a sunset or a glazed pottery bowl. And to do anything well takes dedication. So write on, sister. The rest of the world may never see it, but whatever you use to fill that empty space will last longer than you will.

    • Can I just say that you are supremely awesome, Miz Liv! You’ve not only lent “The essential something we all need to keep on our interior creative mantel”, but you’ve done it concisely, memorably, and oh so beautifully. Thank you, thank you, my friend 😀

  2. “How it is that I can justify putting such importance on made-up things?” Because you never know when and how it will touch another person’s life. Because it adds value to our existence as humans on planet Earth. Because it brings beauty to the world. Because it allows us to connect with other humans through the sharing of ideas, concepts, and perceptions. Because it opens our minds to possibilities. And, most importantly, because you are a writer and you have a gift to share with the rest of the world.

    • You are of course perfectly brilliant. Not only do I LOVE what you’ve said here, but love it enough to read three more times (and counting!) It’s far too easy, while in the midst of writerly obsession and endless exile, to lose perspective and thus forget for a time that those things we hold closest to the heart have been planted for a definite purpose. Sincere thanks for buffing the treasure back to a shine, Tami 😀

  3. What Tami said. 🙂

    Stories do help other people, even the fluffy, escapist kind. They make us laugh when we need it most. They give us hope, when we’ve all but given up. They teach us how to cope with a world that doesn’t always (?!) make sense.

  4. Double Ditto, Elizabeth! How often I’ve read something that fixed a broken thought, healed a misconception, pried open a door, or, yes absolutely, planted a grin that spanned ear-to-ear. As someone who has forever adored books, it’s still kind’ve pitiful that after all this time I still require the occasional reminder of the power between the pages. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts 😀

  5. I’m probably outside the bright, cheery world of your commenters above because I just finished my blog post on the volume of end-of-world scenarios, distopian worlds and the catastrophic movies and stories out right now. (Hard to make the transition to comment on your lovely blog post)

    So why is it essential to create and also read the creations of another’s mind? We have to. It is the way we are wired. Those blessed enough to be able to put stories together so that other people want to read them and become inspired, are compelled to because we all want not only the beauty that another can create, but also the dark visions so we can prepare ourselves for those dark days that might come. Or maybe we just like to be safely scared.

    • End-of-the-world scenarios? Distopian worlds? Catastrophic movies? I’ll definitely be sprinting over to read your post in just a moment, Cora! Sounds like the perfect just-before-bed nite-cap 😀

      Yes, absolutely, but you’re spot-on in mentioning our essential need to not only create, but also to care about and appreciate the creations spilling forth from the minds of others. Inspiration drawn from the work of other hands and heads is oftentimes the perfect mental hydrator when my own mind feels desert dry and unproductive.

      And the joy of being safely scared? Absolutely 🙂

  6. Yes, Cora! You said it best. We do it because we have to. I couldn’t live if I couldn’t daydream, wool gather and otherwise create characters and worlds in my mind. And reading? I simply cannot imagine not reading. I’m fortunate in coming from a family where a love of reading was passed from generation to generation and no one ever said “you can’t/shouldn’t read that.” I still have to remind myself from time to time just how precious that gift has been in making my life better.

    • Amen, Helen. I’m always stunned, sad, and a little more than horrified when I hear someone announce that they DON’T read! It’s beyond my comprehension to imagine a non-reading life. I come from a reading family, too, and all four of my children are serious book-a-holics.

      And talk about having a “last laugh,” which is precisely what I’m having when I think of all the years of teachers annoyed by my consistent eyes-to-the-sky tendency to daydream through classes. Considering that of all the lessons that have come and gone, daydreaming is the one skill that’s proved most valuable.

  7. I think this sometimes, too – but then when I think of this as my Job, my Career, it takes on a different form — this isn’t a hobby or just something I love, but what I do that defines me in other areas of my life that have nothing to do with the creative!

    Books are important to me – I was a reader before I was a writer, so . . . soooooo . . . .:-D

  8. Thank you, Kat! Once again I am refreshed by your wisdom and ability to put an essential perspective into the proper column 😀

    I do think it’s especially difficult for creatives to land in a place of necessary satisfaction. Where, Creating + Personal Accomplishment = Validation. Vs. Creating + Royal Checks = Validation. For someone like me, who has always had a rather *brittle* relationship with math, my figures occasionally need adjustments to arrive at the correct answer.

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