Thursday, July 24, 2008

Of two minds (or maybe it's three)

I sometimes wonder if I have multiple personality issues because on most things I am of at least two minds.Right now I'm happy to be writing this blog piece, here at the computer, but there's a nagging sense I ought to be in the dining room, writing more on my new story idea. When I get back to that, I will become the character, a 5-year-old boy who probably has A.D.D.
When I take a break from that story and turn to the sketch-diary work-in-progress, I'll become a 15-year-old adventurer. And then the next Ellie McDoodle book will beckon and I'll become a 12-year-old girl with all the inner-battling angst and confidence of adolescence. Then I'll bounce over to Marcella, a 6-year-old creative problem-solver. But even while I become those personalities, I still apparently nurture the nasty inner critic who tears apart everything I do. I don't mean to keep feeding her. I'd like for her to waste away, or pack up and visit someone else for a while. Alas, she thrives in my head and has no reason to move on. Actually, I suspect she's been busy reproducing because I hear other negative voices as well.All these characters, mischievous and virtuous, disparaging and uplifting, live simultaneously in my head.
Sometimes they all yell at me at the same time.Sometimes they yell at me at the same time that someone in my real-life family is yelling at me -- and usually the family member is the sort who thinks real-life people deserve priority attention.
It's not always a bad thing to have all these various brains inside me. It's often helpful, like when I am about to start an author presentation at a bookstore. I get butterflies almost to the point of nausea, in advance. Eventually one of the rational brains steps forward and takes control, assuring the others that I've done these visits many dozens of times, I can handle whatever comes up, and in the end the visit will work out well. Usually the other brains settle down and let that brain continue to distract me for the next few hours.Then when the visit is over, the other brains jump back in, bouncing up and down in my head (nausea returns) and I get the urge to run or turn backflips.
I've never in my life done a backflip; I'm sure I wouldn't survive it.
Thankfully, the Zen brain takes over and drives me quietly and calmly back to my home, by which time the backflippers are asleep from the white noise of the highway.
Maybe it's normal to have lots of competing brains inside you, if you're creative. But maybe it's what drove artists and writers insane, throughout history. For my own safety, I'm telling the voices they can stay; what I don't need right now is a full-head mutiny.I have to go. The 5-year-old in my head just woke up and is ready to tell his story.


Kevin Spear said...

This is a great piece on creativity, Ruth. Thank you for your insight.

You've explained what it takes to think creatively and get different perspectives as you create. *Sigh*! If we could only quiet that inner critic for a while!

Stacey from Two Writing Teachers said...

Great images! Very inspiring!!!

Angela said...

Ohhhh Ruth I know how you feel...I have many storytellers in my head too and I have to be careful about who I listen too... the one who is the loudest usually isn't the one with the best story!

Love ur blog & website! (You posted one of ur doddles of me long ago from kidlit drink nite in NY)