Keeping our Sanity by Losing our Sanity

I have often told people that I write to keep my sanity, and generally speaking this is true. Writing gives me purpose and direction in life. And yet, by some strange paradox, it also helps me to lose my sanity. Writing is about trying to keep our sanity while losing our sanity.

I think he speaks for all of us writers. Image from Giphy. Property of DC and Fox. All rights reserved. 

A good idea germinates in our minds. We nourish that idea, writing daily so that the roots of our idea may grow into a short story or a novel. All seems to be going well at first. We put our thoughts on paper. Our stress melts away. Then we face writer’s block. We do everything we can to chisel down or to blow to pieces this wall that has formed in our minds. Sometimes it takes years for this block to crumble. At other times we don’t have writer’s block, but we keep rewriting our work. It’s never near completion, and when we think it is we find that such thoughts were premature. What had started out as a form of therapy turns into madness. Never enough, never enough!

So, we write initially because it’s a form of therapy, a stress reducer. Ironically, it becomes stressful. After it becomes stressful, what do we do? We continue the writing process in order to save our sanity. It’s a full circle. In other words, we lose our sanity if we don’t write and we lose our sanity if we do write.

We’re just running around in circles. Image from Giphy. Property of Disney. All rights reserved. 

In the end, it all comes down to balance. There are times we have to write to save our sanity and there are times we have to step away from the keyboard or pen and paper to save it. We writers can be an extreme bunch, just as extreme as any other creative type. One thing many of us have to learn is the importance of moderation. Only through moderation, giving ourselves the proper amount of time to write and the proper amount of time to take a break and engage in our hobbies can we write effectively and keep our sanity.

Then again, maybe losing one’s sanity is a prerequisite for being a writer. History seems to indicate as much.



Blood on the Grass, Blood on Paper

Writing is such a powerful form of self-expression. We write for many reasons. We write to express joy, anger, humor, and more often than not, sadness. Life is full of pain and suffering. I had a moment of anguish recently when I was mowing the lawn. One moment I am mowing the grass, the next something long and shiny is flashing about, like a streak of blue lightning. I stop the lawnmower, distraught that I hit a snake. Soon enough, I find out that it’s not a snake, but a legless lizard, an eastern glass one to be precise. I put it in a box with a blanket. I call animal rescue, take a picture of it, and send it to them. The wound is too severe. I can’t save it. For the rest of the evening I am in a deep pit of melancholy over the beautiful animal I accidentally killed.

To this day I wish I hadn’t of mowed the lawn at that particular time. Or I wish I had of seen the eastern glass lizard before I hit him. There is the chance it could have been sick and dying to begin with. But I ask myself, what if he wasn’t? What if he was enjoying the warm sun and the soft grass, his idea of a perfect day in an Eden-like setting? What if he felt joy unmeasurable, a sense of contentment, only to have it destroyed by the apocalypse of not a lawnmower, but a doomsday device that obliterated the vast microcosmic world of my yard?

I didn’t know what to do. I was his unintentional executioner, but I couldn’t purposely be his savior, no matter how hard I tried. So I wrote this poem in the creature’s honor.

Upon blades of grass, you rested, 
a coil of silver water, turquoise under the sun, 
when blades of steel should cut through your joy.

I saw you flop and thrash, 
your blue and silver thrashing like ocean waves during a storm,
a storm that toiled inside. 
I am going to live.

One drop of blood spoke a thousand passions 
of the struggle for life, the appreciation for beauty. 
Your silent scream tore asunder the blockades of the human heart,
rending its fortified walls into rubble.

Silver and blue, a garment rich and pure. 
You stoically fought like the knight you were,
and kept your noble vestige even amongst the crimson.

The trees, the flowers, the grass, the palms, your temple, will always hold you in remembrance.



An eastern glass lizard. Not the one I accidentally hit in my yard. This image is the property of Wikimedia Commons, taken by NatalieK.