I generally don’t participate in writing challenges. Writing challenges are for nice, normal people whose thoughts work in a linear direction and resemble the web of a proper spider, not one of those messed-up spiders who has been given, say, LSD.
My thoughts resemble the web of a spider on LSD.
At first glance, I pass for normal. I’m astoundingly plain. I’m a gray-haired, middle-aged woman with a body far rounder than those bodies which are deemed beautiful. I’m someone that nobody looks at twice. This is fine. I wouldn’t want to be one of those people who is celebrated solely for their physical appearance.
Realizing from a young age that I had a great face for radio, I believed that I might be able to make a living with my writing. I have always been highly imaginative, my head filled with unique and sometimes controversial ideas. I am open-minded and empathic. I thought I could combine these traits of imagination, empathy, and open-mindedness, I could reach those who, like me, were different and misunderstood.
I learned that nobody is interested in the works of a person who can’t tie their ideas up in a neat little package. I have tried, but outside of short stories, I can’t do it. My novels will always have a myriad of subplots. When I try to constrain my thoughts into a tidy parcel, the end result doesn’t feel authentic.
This is the result of my anomalistic mind refusing to conform to the rules of proper writing.
I did not do well with writing in the sixth grade, where I had a teacher who insisted we make an outline first and then follow that outline exactly, but not too exactly, or he’d know we wrote the story first and then made the outline. This teacher quite literally gave me PTSD regarding the use of outlines.
A scan of the weird world inside my skull would reveal that my brain looks something like a bowl full of radioactive cherry Jello with a few amusing blobs of lime Jello thrown in for fun. Another type of scan would reveal that my synapses always think it’s the Fourth of July and they are fireworks. Even in a balanced state of mind, known as euthymia, and performing mundane, non-stressful tasks, my synapses would be firing off with inappropriate levels of excitement. The way my brain works is similar to having a person begin dancing around in brightly colored clothes at a staid and formal affair.
This world dislikes people like me. I have come to understand that those things which interest me do not interest anybody else. I am strange, I am eccentric. At first glance I pass for normal, but I am not.
When writing a novel, I could try to do it the way everybody else does. I could try to kill all the subplots that dance into my mind. I could try to write a nice, ordinary book which might sell, but it probably wouldn’t because it would be awful. A book written without spirit is a dead world.
I cannot weave my thoughts in the manner of a normal spider weaving its web.
My thoughts will always weave in the manner of a spider on LSD.
It is exhausting to be me.
Yet me is the only thing I know how to be.
I have had people ask me why I don’t ask a doctor to medicate away the overstimulated state inside my head.
I tried this once. The cure was worse than the problem.
Most antidepressants don’t make me less depressed, they make me manic and psychotic. The exception is Prozac, which makes me flat and turns my thoughts to self-harm, not for the usual reasons, but because I start wondering if I can still feel.
I am normally neither manic nor psychotic, and usually I can feel, perhaps too much.
I have type 2 bipolar disorder, which manifests hypomania rather than full mania.
Hypomania can be equally destructive, but its presentation isn’t as extreme as full mania. This is why bipolar 2 tends to be misdiagnosed.
I am not psychotic. I have an esoteric belief system, but I know the difference between the metaphysical and physical world. I am grounded in reality. I am all too aware that there are a myriad of horrific things happening in the world at any given time. I wish that I could stop these things from happening. I know that I can’t.
I take a low dose of Lithium to help manage the hypomania and the paranoia that are part and parcel of my particular and peculiar mind. Lithium doesn’t make me flat the way Prozac did. It’s more akin to turning the dimmer switch on a light to a lower setting than to turning off the light.
LIthium allows me to be less extreme. It allows me to think things through, to not be enticed into unhealthy relationships, to spend my money a bit more wisely. It hasn’t yet stopped me from overworking myself, and it doesn’t stop myriads of subplots from appearing out of left field, right field, center field, or dropping in from the Heavens above and popping up from the Hells below.
I don’t want my stories to be without multiple subplots. I like the LSD spiderweb that my mind weaves. I’m not even especially bothered by the fact that other people generally don’t care for the way my writing jumps this way and that.
What bothers me is the fact that most people believe that stories can only take a linear form, that there is only one right way to tell a tale, and if the author fails to adhere to said conventions, they are to be shamed and pushed away from writing as they enjoy.
Some minds don’t weave their tales in the manner of a normal spider.
Some of us are LSD spiders.
It’s wrong to demand that minds which are not neurologically typical work like minds that are.