Writers aren’t exactly people…they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
I found the above quotation in a signature file on, of all things, a Buffy/Spike fanfic forum I was browsing in a brief period of not hiding from light and sound over the weekend. (Oh, don’t mock. I’m sure most of you have guilty pleasures that are just as silly.) It’s sort of been rattling around in my brain all day. Well, first there was a mental click, then there was rattling.
I’ve often described myself, to myself, to close friends, as having a sort of multiple personality disorder. Unlike the actual clinical variety, it’s not a case of dissociation from trauma, but a sort of rich inner landscape in which several aspects of myself interact. Maybe it’s stronger because I’m an only child, maybe it’s just a facet of being a creative type, but a side effect is that I’m rarely bored, and while there are times that I do crave the company of others, I’m generally perfectly fine on my own. With clinical MPD the eventual goal, I’m told, is integration. With me, the goal is to give each voice permission to speak, and to turn off the over-seeing editor voice while they do so.
The mental click was not quite so strong as a personal epiphany or paradigm shift, as much as a sudden key to understanding the way I process things. It explains why I read so cyclically, why I can happily dabble in dark topics like vampire lore, and then do an 180-degree shift and play with contemporary romantic comedy with just as much interest, and even why my taste in television includes not just Heroes and The Dresden Files, but also both Stargate series, and anything Star Trek-ish, as well as The West Wing, Studio 60, and House. (Or, for that matter, why my music collection includes show tunes, soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop, folk, classical, and even a smattering of country and rap.)
Here’s another writing quote I found today, this one from Francoise Sagan:
Writing is a question of finding a certain rhythm. I compare it to the rhythms of jazz. Much of the time life is a sort of rhythmic progression of three characters. If one tells oneself that life is like that, one feels it less arbitrary.
I think I’ve got a new mental portrait of my writing self – or writing selves, as the case may be. It’s a jazz combo, but as well as singing lead, I’m also playing all the instruments.
I hope the end result is more joyous chorus than jangling cacophony.