A little girl with a little curl sits in the middle of her little bed. She writes and she writes, she rages, she cries. She takes things to make the sky the color of a warm fuzzy peach, and stays up for days, the pen trailing neon through the night.
The little girl with the curl would then collapse, spent and sad, moving little, sluggish from the bed, her muse, her voice stolen, locked in her wrists! How dare they steal her song!
The little girl shied away from the doctors, from the talkers, from the big people who looked down and knew her for what she was. She ran from them, even as she hurt, her song more important, the beauty they would steal, it was MORE important! It’s technicolor loveliness so achingly perfect.
Then something happened. The little girl hit a wall, and the colors left. Her world, baring a few hours, a day here and there, dribbled down to greys and blacks, muted landscapes about her. That world narrowed, constricted, wrapped around her. The words stopped. They weren’t easy anymore. They weren’t there.
Then, the bad time. When it all turned black and the words turned against her and walked echoing through her head, accusingly. The ghost in her eyes very nearly came true. The ghost who stole her words.
The world compressed, and seized, wrapped her in it’s hands and throttled. She glared back, the little curl refusing this last gift to it, this little girl. The black world receded, pouting, recoiling from the gift in her hands, the light brought to the darkness.
The little girl with the little curl climbed back up on that bed, pen in hand, to work, to find her voice. She smiles there.
Nothing irritates me more than the cult of the myth of the manic artist. Nothing, not even people more concerned with purses than the news or the overabundance of olives at sub shops.
I recently had this conversation with a friend, or rather, I had a snarky monologue prepared. Any talents I had, or have, were never because of my manic depression. They have never been a gift of my perspective.
This is the line many people will sell you-that Kurt Cobain wouldn’t have had the same voice without whatever was supposedly wrong in his head, Van Gogh wouldn’t have been so brilliant. We would have lost so much.
Which always makes me wonder-do artists have an unknown debt to society no one has told me about anyway?
Perhaps being sick in my head makes me more willing to speak about it, more willing to sit and look at my condition, at everyone’s condition. But it’s never made me more talented-if anything, since I am NOT blessed with extended periods of mania, it’s taken any talents I may have and widdled them down to nearly nothing. Only now, medicated, do I begin to approach a place of clear and pure creativity I never once came near before, even during the one longish manic period I hit. My writing has never been enhanced by my crazy. Not once.
I’ve run into people who wish they were bipolar, that then they would write/sing/paint/etc better, that they would suddenly have some oracle into another world. But it’s not the case. There is nothing magical about this crazy, nothing that will enhance who and what you write for, or sing for. There’s a cold empty in it’s place, devoid of energy.
10 years ago I would have just assumed I had nothing left to say. Before that, I would have said I was writing brilliantly. Looking back, I was writing total crap. I just thought it was brilliant.
But should the tradeoff be my brilliance for my stability, if my madness was linked to my creativity? Should I toss my lithium down the river in the hopes that 2 half started novels might suddenly jump into life? Should I sacrifice my life for my muse, for any muse? What price life?
When we spend lives hiding who we are, the thought that we’re only valid when acting as something supersonic, this perfect being who spouts eloquence and beauty, don’t we become just another cliche? Don’t we become less than human then, shoved to the corner as another ideal that someone likes to keep in play?
I am not an ideal.