In time, we are an essence worn to dust,
A cloud that forms, and dissipates, in one;
Inchoate souls who settle, as we must,
Into a spot to stand, or track to run,
As thinking ourselves solid. yet we find
That something missing our true selves defines:
As phantoms in the desert, partly blind,
We edge along these ditches we call mines
For copper, gold, or silver – love or lust –
For fame or glory, comfort or repast;
We live on borrowed dreams and broken trust
Until the madness flees from us at last —
Yet, though this life be farce, insanity,
I’ll love the madness, if you’ll stay with me.
I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that writing is a form of madness. It can be very lucrative madness, if you are J.K. Rowling, but for most of the rest of us, it’s just madness.
Of course, much of what we do in life is kind of crazy. We chase ghosts and embrace phantoms; we ride memories like surfers while dreaming of futures made of glowing spun crystal.
Then we write about it.
Then other people read it, and, sometimes, the madness spreads. Little pockets of insanity, glowing in the ultraviolet, perhaps visible from space.
Or, maybe, like the photo above, we communicate more like shadowy figures moving about in the desert, making out at best each other’s outlines. After all, people are life’s great mystery.
Writers love mysteries, of course. Maybe that’s because the desire to write is so mysterious to us. All we really know is that we have it.
Writing is indeed madness, but madness has it’s advantages. In other areas of life, just making stuff up is generally considered bad. With writers, people marvel, and ask “where do your ideas come from?”
“Cleveland,” I always want to say. “An abandoned warehouse near Edgewater Pier.”
There aren’t a lot of advantages to being a professional writer, truth be told; expectations are high and pay is generally poor. However, given the relative amount of freedom most writers enjoy, there are possibly more advantages to being a writer than a teacher, and this country (the United States) has over 3 million teachers in public schools alone.
Which is madness, as well.
But those of us who love to write will continue to do so, because we have things we want to say, pictures to paint, worlds to create, minds to inspire.
So it’s a divine madness, at least.