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Thread: The Hidden Danger in Writing.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The Hidden Danger in Writing.

    The Hidden Danger in Writing.

    When we write, (and especially if it is fiction), we are by definition connecting to our consciousness. The words that get written down are but expressions of this.

    But if history is anything to go by; there are many instances where this process of mentally exploring and creating literature holds the potential for adversely exceeding our human capacity. There is almost a flirtation with the unknown which could have consequences.

    Cases in point would include: Tolstoy, Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe & Virginia Woolf, all of whom experienced what is termed "mental issues," these days. Mental breakdowns we are informed arise in many cases from an overload on the brain. It must be like a nightmare; where one is struggling to leave the dream behind and attain consciousness; except in the case now being considered, one is awake and escape is that more difficult.

    One could of course write airy fairy romantic novels, full of young, clean cut Arthurian heroes with Oxbridge degrees, opposite swooning maidens with prominent cleavage that ride white stallions; and that might even sell these days in train station bookseller establishments.

    But then, any writer worth his salt, wants more than* that.

    Some have been mentally tough enough, (if that is the right expression),* to slay their internal demons. The novelist Grahame Greene for example,* was always wrestling with the concept of his faith, yet managed to both ride the whirlwind and direct the storm of this internal conflict into producing some damm good books.

    The aspect of creativity I think exists in everyone to some degree. If it is writing and the act is enjoyable to yourself, then you are lucky. If greater recognition is required beyond W.H.Smiths in St Pancras Station, then the future is more problematic.

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "When we write, (and especially if it is fiction), we are by definition connecting to our consciousness. The words that get written down are but expressions of this."

    This is an interesting statement Manichaean, but I´m not so sure if it always works that way. Writing can certainly express the consciousness a writer has about him/herself and his or her own mental and/or emotional processes or the way, for instance, society is constituted morally and economically. And it can awake the consciousness of the readers too.

    But I believe writing can be also alienating as can be reading for that matter. It can be used to conjure a parallel, more tolerable reality or to at least soften what we perceive as the "real" reality( the concept of reality being complex in itself). I believe this second atitude doesn´t produce quality fiction, but it probably is responsible for a lot of second hand fiction.

    "But if history is anything to go by; there are many instances where this process of mentally exploring and creating literature holds the potential for adversely exceeding our human capacity. There is almost a flirtation with the unknown which could have consequences."
    If I get you right, you are suggesting that to much serious writing activity may be harmful to the writers mental health. I am not so sure about that unless you simply are referring to writing as overwork as there excesses of work in other crafts. I believe writing can be liberating and even healing, as it permits the confrontation and the sorting out of ones difficulties. I suspect that some of the famous writers didn´t become mentally ill because of their writing but that they became writer because they felt a need to express the complexity of their inner life a complexity which might include morbid mental processes.

    Cortazár once compared the idea for a new short story to a sort of bubble in his mind, that kept tormenting him. He only got read of the torment by writing down the story.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  3. #3
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Hi Danik.

    You are right. Perhaps I was, (without realizing it), playing devils advocate in a small number of cases where writing has an adverse mental effect.

    There is a distinction between struggling with producing a story, and being pushed over the edge in the process.

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I see. You are writing about the difficulties of composition. I think there must be great differences between an author and another. You are right there, writing shouldn´t be a too heavy task.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    All intellectual processes can go wrong. Sometimes runners stub their toes. Free verse has led tens of thousands to believe they are poets but all they do is write in lines. Once you recognise that you can go beyond the car chase or the square house then you are thinking about what you are doing and sometimes that goes wrong. It isn't all that striking for mental processes to show strain. In fact most of the people I know who have had/ have "issues" are not writers. Probably I would find it hard to name anyone who has never had some problem of that type

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