Skip to main content

the great escapism

all writers live somewhat vicariously through their writing. it's an easy thing to fall into. after all, when you're writing, you can perfectly script each part of the lives you are constructing, each facet of their experience and you can give it meaning. most people i know are pretty far from achieving that in their everyday life. most people i know spend a lot of time obsessing over parts of their lives that they want to change, but can't figure out how to change. i struggle with road blocks in writing, too, but the difference is that i know i can figure them out. i'm never so sure when it comes to life off the page. however, even if you want to dedicate as much of yourself to writing as possible, there must come a point where you have too much of a good thing. so exactly when does creativity become pathological?

i have substantial relationships with the people whose lives i've created. more substantial, for instance, than my relationships with people i talk to every day. (for all concerned, this is probably a good thing.) i won't even bother asking if that's "normal", because that's always been a term that annoyed me to no end, with its implication that it was somehow desirable to be in a state where one has achieved a similarity with the largest number of people. but i will ask if it is healthy, even from an artistic standpoint. after all, how am i going to be able to write meaningful things about real people if most of the people in my life are imaginary?

in defense of this sort of behaviour, i would like to point out that 1. i am still very conscious of the fact that the people who occupy my life are not real, as opposed to some of the people i see wandering around who have crossed that important boundary and; 2. i firmly believe that if you think about characters as having a life beyond the events written about in the stories they populate, it becomes a lot easier to write them. after all, you know what's motivating them, even if the reader doesn't (and will never find out).

my main concern, however, is not so much that these fits of introverted bliss will retard my future ability to write cogently and realistically, but with the havoc they might wreak on the state of the rest of my life. after all, if i'm spending all of my time with people who don't exist, doesn't it point to some problems dealing with the things in my life that do exist? any psychologist would probably tell you that it does. then again, psychologists exist to make people believe that they're not handling the real world very well and to listen to you when you get to the point where you believe them.

fact is, the time that i spend thinking about writing is more real to me than the staff meetings i have to attend on a regular basis with flesh and blood people, more meaningful than eighty percent of the conversations i have every day and more lasting than most of the incidental relationships i have in my life. most of the people i know are so obsessed with what they do for a living that it manages to permeate every aspect of every conversation they carry on. and when they're done talking, they fall asleep and dream about it. the ironic thing is that most of what they tell me is about how much they hate where they are. so if i spend more time thinking about my imaginary friends and less time thinking about the sad details that drive everyone else crazy, i think my outlook is pretty healthy.


as long as you're here, why not read more?

mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there …


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…