'A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.' ~ Frank Kafka
Keeping with the Hallowe'en sentiment just passed, here's Kafka on how not writing can lead to monstrous results.
And he's right. I am thinking most especially of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, ha. (It's on TV tonight funnily enough...) His writer's block sure manifested itself in monstrous ways! No, when it comes to myself I know I morph into a ghoulish creature when I haven't been writing for a while: cranky, grumpy, bite-your-head-off, woe-is-me-existentialist, despairful, fright-night-every-night. What definitely feels like bordering on insanity (my mind for certain feels like it's tied up in a strait-jacket). Nothing feels right.
Because it's writing what keeps us writers sane, keeps us right. What was it Bukowski said along the same lines about writing keeping him from madness? 'You either get it down on paper or you jump off a bridge.' It was life or death to him. As for any serious writer.
What makes it even scarier is the psychological truth that presides within it. We all write for different reasons, but most inherently, we write due to a compelling force within us propelling us to do it. A force for expression, communication, illumination. George Orwell called it a 'devil'. At times it even feels like a supernatural force so strong it is. To try to ignore something as powerful as that would be to invite dire consequences.
Maybe it's the same for every profession you feel in your bones to do and for some reason (doubt, fear, practical obstacles) you don't. Isn't it the things we really want to do and don't that haunt us all our lives? Yes, they are the real ghosts, keeping us miserable with their endless keening.
So thank you Kafka for this scary prediction (definitely the most scared I've been all week!) And writers, let's also heed Mary Shelley's warning in her tale of creative woe lest we create our very own Frankensteins!
Frankenstein - i.e. the zombie-like brain-dead monster writers become when they don't write.