When you get right down to it, most writers are probably crazy. Seriously. Wouldn’t we HAVE to be a bit crazy to spend a good part of our all-too-short life span actively involved in the lives of imaginary people who exist in made-up places? My fellow writers will no doubt deny this, but denial is always the first sign you have a problem, and in saying that, I have just burdened my crazy writer friends with a circular logic trap that will drive them crazier than ever.
For some odd reason it seems in vogue to say ‘oh I’m so crazy hahahaha’ when you really aren’t. It is just said to impress, the same way the most painfully insipid individuals will insist to all and sundry, ‘Oh, I’m zany and wacky!!!’
Crazy is the new cool.
Just as some smoking-hot chick who once caught a few minutes of a Star Trek rerun on TV will put on a pair of glasses from the Marcello Mastroianni Collection and insist she is now a nerd, people will go to great lengths to insist they are crazy by displaying affected mannerisms or posting the occasional monosyllabic outburst online.*
These poseurs don’t seem to understand that one does not simply spritz on a little crazy like a perfume or cologne. Crazy runs deep, my friends. Deep and dark and occasionally… ridiculous.
And the richest vein of crazy running through a writer may not be madness at all, but a shocking clarity of insight. Maybe the characters we write about are actual people who exist somewhere in the multitude of parallel universes. Maybe we are just attuned to these characters, these faraway people. We don’t create them and bring them together and name their children and separate them and kill them off with that cold half smile that puts off our family and friends when we are off and away and wandering the Story Zone, no, we are simply reporters, describing real events occurring in a place only we can access.
Is that idea so crazy?
Most of my friends have heard me mention my dislike of water before. I can swim, barely, but I don’t swim because I once nearly drowned as a kid (in an event that may also have had a paranormal aspect, but that’s another story) . . . and now I know beyond a shadow of doubt that the water nearly got me.
To this day I most sincerely believe that water knows things and that all water shares what it knows; it evaporates, it moves elsewhere, it condenses, it rains down. And it passes on everything it learns.
It was only a matter of time before every drop of water on Earth could chortle with malicious anticipation whenever I’d go near it, saying, “It’s him, look, it’s him, GET HIM!” in soft splooks and splinks, if I did so much as dip a toe in a bathtub (which is why I take showers instead).
Now I avoid the water as much as I can, which takes effort, because I spend half my time between a large bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Water is out to get me, any way it can. And the ways of water are most wicked, my friend.
As I was standing on the BART train platform this morning and trying not to think about the fact that I ride through more than three miles of tunnel under San Francisco Bay twice daily (and simple physics suggests that seeing the results of a rupture in the Transbay Tube would be similar to watching ants being flushed down a toilet bowl), I popped the cap on a fresh bottle of spring water and took a small sip.
A small sip.
A raging jet of ice cold water shot up both nostrils and all over my shirt.
A couple of ladies who get on the same train car every morning gave me their usual pitying look that said there’s the village imbecile at it again as I ground my teeth and tried not to shout obscenities.
How do you explain what happened? How? A muscle spasm? A sudden increase in air pressure around the bottle? A poltergeist?
No . . .
It was the water, my friends. The water. The water that is the same everywhere, the water that still remembers having a terrified ten year old in its grasp, the water that burns with a furious, frustrated rage over the loss of the squirming morsel it nearly swallowed, the water that will do anything to finish that foul task begun so long ago.
As I stood on the train platform, the water tried to drown me.
Am I crazy, or am I revealing a great, undiscovered truth?
Am I crazy, or just imagining that ordinary water is actually a malignant intelligence?
In the end, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all.
As long as I keep writing stories fueled by ‘crazy’ thoughts.
And keep away from the water.
*To my fellow nerds who actually SUFFERED for their nerd status in school I say we rise up and take that word back because we EARNED it with every drop of hair grease, oh-my-god-I-actually-have-to-engage-in-social-interaction flop sweat, and pimple pus.
(This first appeared on JXM’s Dark Red Press blog in August of 2011)