Writers: Are we all a bit mad?

I remember the ill-slept, thrilling and simultaneously stomach-turning first morning of Assistant Language Teacher orientation in Japan. It was then a lovely English girl asked the breakfast table, “Are we all a bit mad?”

No one had slept well.

But it wasn’t just jet lag. I can’t tell you how ridiculously torturous that first night in Tokyo was: everything was question marks. I had no concept of the place I would be living. Of what my job would be like. How to live day to day there, from grocery trips and operating a Japanese ATM to cultural etiquette, food staples, transportation. I was a stranger in a strange land, and in three days I would part with everyone else who spoke English.

So I loved the question when someone else asked it: Are we all a bit mad?

Writers– especially novelists, I think– live this way. Every book is a journey: a new land. New people, new language, new trials, new pleasures. It blights the mind trying to envision what a project will be like when in reality you can only handle it one page, one task, one day at a time. And we sign up for this! This long-term, sink-or-swim, learn-on-your-feet, by-the-seat-of-your-pants whirlwind! This madness! Again and again with every book!

Well. I may not know what comes next. But if it is anything like my time in Japan was, it will surprise and delight me in a thousand ways.

Kampai, as they say.


14 responses to “Writers: Are we all a bit mad?”

  1. I think everyone is a little mad. If you aren’t than your boring. It’s like…everyone is strange. No person is alike and I find that exciting and beautiful. Being mad is beautiful.

    1. Beautifully said, Emma. Reminds me of something Marilyn Monroe said: “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

      1. I love that quote by her. She was brilliant 🙂

  2. The cool things that come with being a little bit mad outweigh the bad things…so far. I just hope I never have to face the day when the opposite is true.

    1. One never knows. That’s half the madness.

  3. Yes…basically we’re all a little strange to one another…just changing countries as you have seen puts us into a twilight zone! But I got your meaning and I still think, yes we are all a little strange! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Haha, I’m not sure how well my out-of-element orientation experience in Japan worked as a metaphor for the watershed I was trying to get at, but maybe the fact that it made sense in my head and less sense in writing is just indicative of another kind of madness. 😉

      Thanks for reading and for your response!

      1. Well…I read you post yesterday, and your experience reminded me of mi own in a way. When one is outside of what one feels is “normalicy” one understands the relativity of that normalicy. Hmmm…did I make sense ther? Your post made a lot of sense and using your experience as a metaphor was perfect!

  4. Congrats on getting to this point with your novel. I wish you the best of luck in finding an agent. Keep updating us.

    1. Thank you so much. I most certainly will! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Professor! *salutes*

  5. Fredrik Kayser Avatar
    Fredrik Kayser

    I reckon congratulations are in order! May fortune continue to smile upon you. ^^
    Can’t remember where I read it or who said it first but here are a few words that recently caught my attention, “I’m going to succeed because I’m crazy enough to think I can.”

    The day I stop questioning my sanity is the day I’ll begin to worry, because at that point I know I’ll have become completely insane. Peel away the layers that define this reality and a whole new spectrum appears before the eye. Whacky, trippy but totally cool. : )

    1. Haha, sounds a bit like Catch 22. Love it!

      Thank you for your good wishes, Fredrik! 🙂

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