A few years ago, I entered the following essay in a blog contest (on a writer's blog that has since become obsolete or I would link to it). My essay was a featured entry and since I am working on THE PROMISE edit, this is all I can post for the moment. Enjoy!
"AM I LOSING MY MIND?
As I was driving down the interstate the other day, I was thinking about something I had recently read about writers and inspiration and the passion it takes to be an effective story teller. Before I could mentally finish the silent review of what I had read, my mind had taken me back to my most recent affair. I’ve had many affairs, ten of them in fact, yet my affairs aren’t the traditional betrayals you hear about in a celebrity magazine or the local day spa. My affairs go a little something like this; I live somewhere else, somewhere I’ve seen featured on a calendar or postcard, somewhere with no smog, no inversion, no rain clouds, no dirty, left-over snow, or pungent smoke from nearby mountain fires. I am the heroine. I am smart and sexy, and the object of desire for every man within a hundred miles of me. I am desperately in love with the hero and wouldn’t you know it? He’s desperately in love with me, too. My life is complicated but not a “normal complicated”. It’s complicated in ways I don’t know if I, me, the real person could withstand, but the “other me” does and most often times with perseverance, class, and style. In my affair, there are no mundane issues to deal with. Running out of milk or locking my keys in the car doesn’t happen in my other life. Oh, no. The travesties in my alternative life might include infidelity, rape, drug addiction, emotional abuse, adoption, assault, infertility, secrets, fires, lies, kidnapping, fraud, exploitation, and death, just to name a few. And as I deal with each fictitious trial in my bonus life, I am taken away from the “normal complicated” issues I should be dealing with but don’t have the mental energy nor the desire to.
You see, I start an affair, an alternate life, and it literally consumes me. My mind, my responsibilities, my behavior, my desires are all controlled by the story. Two great kids, a wonderful husband, and a friendly little dog can’t keep me from thinking about anything else. I wake up in my story, and even with a full day’s schedule, my time is spent thinking and/or writing about my most recent affair. I lay in bed at night speaking dialog to the voices in my head that are the characters in the story. I sometimes dream in my affairs, only to wake the next morning and start the vicious cycle all over again. This process lasts for days, weeks, months--as long as it takes, until I type the final word of the novel and put an end to the affair, whether or not I or my heroic lover want to end it.
Back to the drive down the interstate. I was lost in thought of where the characters in my most recent story needed to go when a loud, resounding question entered my head.
Am I losing my mind?
I don’t know who asked the question. It could be the male protagonist in my previous novel, a muscular, educated man that wasn’t too happy that I had to end our affair. It could be my poor husband of sixteen years, wondering when my latest novel is going to be completed so that I will clean up the house a bit, or maybe cook a warm meal that doesn’t require a can opener. Maybe it came from me, my own sanity calling for me to get back on track with my life, focus on my own trials, the real ones--grocery shopping, homework with the kids, my relationship with my real-life lover. Honestly, I don’t know who asked the question, and sadly enough, I didn’t have an immediate answer.
I know I can’t be the only writer who literally looses themselves in a story. I can’t be the only writer who eats, sleeps and breathes their affairs. I can’t believe that I am the only writer, amongst the hundreds of thousands of writers on the planet that is obsessed with my alternate life—at least I don’t want to believe I am the only one. If I am, I think I’ve got my answer to the question . . . undeniably. "