Like all good thoughts in 2013, I decided to start with Google. Google has become my best friend for the unanswered questions of my curious mind. I typed Inside the mind of, but it wasn’t writer that followed in my search results. Whose brains are we all desperate to riffle through? Top searches are serial killer, killer, sociopath, and narcissist. And Google itself. What a narcissist!
So it seems that what we all really want to discover is what goes on inside the mind of somebody who hangs out in the dark places, the shady corners of life. The world has gone crazy for the likes of Dexter, CSI, and the many true crime shows on TV. We want to know what drives these people, why they committed their crimes, and how they could possibly have done the things they did. We want to understand the things that really we cannot imagine ourselves.
Well, I am not really any different. Let me tell you a bit about me. The basics. Female, thirty two, married to a Greek guy, two step kids, scientist by trade and qualification. All sounds pretty normal so far. And it is. I am in fact pretty average. My DVD drawer is full of horror, my bookshelf houses a mixture of thriller and suspense, and as for a good crime show just try and drag me away. But what drives me to write about such things? Why do I spend hour upon hour of my time typing up stories, writing about the things most people don’t want to think about after the show has finished and their curiosity has been satisfied?
It was about ten years ago that I first I announced to a very good friend of mine that I was going to write a book. But the will to do it began a long time before this initial conversation. I was still a child when I decided that I wanted to be a writer. I was holding a copy of Gerald’s Game by Stephen King in my hand, marvelling at his black and white picture on the back cover. I was nine, I think, and I thought he looked like the coolest guy I had ever seen in my life. When my parents told me he must be crazy because of the things he writes about, I became convinced that my earlier assumption was correct. He became cooler than cool in my eyes. I took that book home, read it in a week, and from that point on decided I would one day be as cool as Stephen King. My secret desire to be a writer was born.
It was secret because it seemed to me to be a bit, well, fanciful. A bit of a woo-hoo-head-in-the-clouds type of idea. When the careers counsellor asked me what I was going to do with my life, saying I’m going to write a book seemed like the wrong answer. So instead I came out with something sensible. I am going to be a scientist in healthcare. Excellent. One tick for me.
But the idea of being a writer was still lurking in the background refusing to go away. I had ideas, thoughts, all jumbled up in a mixture of stories, floating around in my cloud-dwelling head. I think that many writers are introverts. I know I certainly can be at times. So writing is in some way a form of expression. A lot of internal thought processes and ideas which only come out on paper, like some sort of catharsis. That’s not to say my books are therapy, but rather I know when I look at them they are absolutely bursting at the seams full of me.
But understanding why I write goes much deeper than me putting my ideas down on paper in an attempt not to go crazy. In all honesty, I would be unlikely to go nuts if I never wrote another word in my life. So it still doesn’t really explain why I write.
Words themselves are one of the earliest things that we are taught. If we hold a new baby, no more than hours old, we talk to it. We tell it things, things it will learn, things we promise it. It hears these words without any clue of what they really mean, and yet we say them anyway. We keep doing it as they age until the point when they say their own first word, and then we celebrate it as a milestone in their development. Whether it’s mum, dad, dog, or pooh, we celebrate the knowledge that comes with the onset of the spoken word. Afterwards we teach them to write, and from that point on almost everything they learn is associated to words and writing. Even people who don’t ‘write’ use words every day. Some of us even keep diaries, which has to be the most personal and private form of writing that there is.
Before we developed language we communicated through sound, from one Neanderthal caveman to another to link them together in thought or action. Ancient civilisations used hieroglyphics, images and symbols to communicate and to spread ideals. The first scriptures on stone, papyrus, and before that cave walls, all linked the writer or artist to another person. To the reader. To their civilizations. To the people in their time and beyond.
People do not write because of fame or money. Most who write never find either of those things through their writing. Writing itself can be lonely and tiring. Writing can stop you doing other things because slowly it takes over. Those two hours of free time at the shopping centre sound good, but when you’ve got a couple thousand more words to write you chose to stay home and get it done. Writing is a way that we communicate to the world, but writing itself is just the medium. Words are the true magic, and whether it is written, spoken, a poem or a song, we use them every day to link us to our society and those people within it.
So inside the mind of the writer is simply to be inside the mind of a person who chooses to communicate. It is no more complicated than any other mind. People see it as introverted and closed, but truly it is one of the most open minds there is because the writer shares everything of their thoughts through his or her words. Our world is one huge society, and we are in some way all linked as a community. We are a world because we communicate and we all choose our medium. Be it words, art, knowledge, or cinema. We all deliver our message. Perhaps this is why we are Googling our way into the minds of sociopaths and killers. We want to understand them because they are part of our world. We want to hear their message because they are in some way linked to us. But then again, this all sounds a bit woo-hoo-head-in-the-clouds to me. Maybe I am a writer because I’m crazy after all.