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Saturday, July 06, 2013

One Step Ahead of the Men in White Coats

Writers are a twitchy lot. All quirky and semi-psychotic. The kind you don’t necessarily want to bring home to meet your mother. And no, this isn’t just my wacked out opinion. I’ve got facts, son, to back up my theory. Let’s take a stroll down Literary History Lane and peek at some of the nut jobs behind the classics…

Lord Byron
When Byron toodled off to college with his best friend, his dog, he was devastated by their No Pets rule. The dog had to go, but he couldn’t find anything in the fine print about a bear. Bingo! He leashed up a grizzly and called him Fido. Okay, so maybe not a grizzly, but it was a bear nonetheless.

Edgar Allen Poe
Poe takes crazy to a whole new level and is it any wonder…his childhood hero was Lord Byron. His life was one broken heart after another, and his death is still a mystery. On October 3, 1849, Poe was found in a Baltimore street. He was semi-conscious but not enough to explain how he’d gotten there or why he was dressed in clothes that weren’t his.

Sylvia Plath
This chick even admits she’s nutty nuts in one of her most famous works, The Bell Jar. She describes her descent in lunacy in this autobiographical novel.

Truman Capote
It’s said that Capote would write supine, with a glass of sherry in one hand and a pencil in the other. It’s also said that there’s nothing in the world crazy about that.

T. S. Eliot
Good ol’ T.S. preferred to be called “The Captain” and tinted his face with green powder to look cadaverous….which makes me wonder if he might be related to Lady Gaga.

The list goes on. The point is that creative types are generally a little off center on the normal scale. Why? What’s up with bears and sherry and zombie make-up jobs?

Newsflash: Writers are innately quirky, or they wouldn’t be creative.

Bear with me while I get all up-in-your-face scientifically. It’s not necessarily that writers are insane (though some wouldn’t rule that out). There are 3 elements, that when present, trigger the effect of inducing the state of consciousness that is particularly creative.

1. Uniqueness
This is something a writer does that isn’t necessarily associated with other activities, otherwise the effect would be diluted. Example: standing on your head while you crank out your daily word count—and that’s the only time you ever stand on your head.

2. Emotional Intensity
This is the kind that a writer experiences only when really immersed in creative work.

3. Repetition
In the case of daily writing routines, repetition is the most prominent. The counted steps to your work desk. The half-cup of java cooled to lukewarm before you drink it. All the comforting little things that say to your brain, “Hey buddy! Time to kick butt and write!”

So take heart, writers. You might be weird but you’re really not worth institutionalizing. In fact, you just might make it to the New York Times Bestseller list if you keep at it long enough.

Just stay away from dressing up in other people’s clothing.

Unless, of course, you’re the hero in A HEART DECEIVED (yes, a rather rough segue into a shameless plug for my latest release). Ethan Goodwin is a bad boy hero who wears the garments of a missing vicar. Interested in Ethan’s story? Here’s a blurb: 

Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse. 

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder. 

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

A HEART DECEIVED is available by David C. Cook and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.

Keep up with the exploits of Michelle Griep at Writer Off the Leash, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


  1. I've been telling my family that talking to imaginary people isn't nuts ... it's WRITER! I don't think this is going to help my cause, Michelle. snicker

  2. Well then go ahead and fly your freak flag high, my dear.

  3. Michelle, you make me proud enough that now I'd like purchase one of those "freak flags" and permanently fix it to my home. Nah. How about the middle of my living room?

    1. Hey...great conversation starter for those awkward dinner parties!

  4. Yes, we writers are a breed apart. ;)

    1. Yeah, technically I think the nomenclature is Authoricus Strangeamus.

  5. Wooh, glad to no I'm normal. Or, rather, my abnormal is normal. Cute poste, Michelle!


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