Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who You Callin' A Lunatic?

by Cathy Pickens

Creativity takes many forms. And creative people craft their own forms of lunacy--or, as we prefer to think of it in the South, their own eccentricities. “Eccentricity” may manifest itself in crazy clothes or crazy habits or a certain free-wheeling style. Or it may be an intense focus, or a crabbiness when interrupted, or an absent-mindedness, or any number of other quirks. But writers haven't cornered the market on imposing lunacy on those they love.

I know creative cooks who have favorite stained, bedraggled totes they religiously carry to the farmers' market. They buy stacks of kitchen gadgets, debate the best technique for making a roux, and immerse themselves in countless cookery books. Of course, those who live with these obsessed ones do enjoy a valuable side-benefit: delicious meals. Probably on a regular basis. Except for the warm, inviting smells wafting from their kitchens, not so very different from writers, are they?

Or what about avid and creative gardeners, with their tools and garden hats and seed catalogues and cuttings? Again, those who live with them enjoy collateral benefits: a lovely yard full of vegetables or flowers. Similar eccentric manifestations to those of writers, without the lovely yards.

Creative folks can be devoted to innumerable passions, including writing. But, despite my attempt to draw connections between writers and other creative people, I find myself wondering why anyone would live with a writer. What benefits can those who co-exist with writers expect? Not good or regular meals, I fear. Or lovely gardens. Or, in the throes of deadlines, not even clean clothes. Or much else that's useful, really.

So just who would live with a mystery writer, I wonder? My husband knew I wrote mysteries when we married, though my first book hadn't yet been published. He couldn't have fully appreciated the craving for solitude, or the crabby growls when work was interrupted, or the mewling self-pity when things weren't going well. But marriage brings all sorts of surprises, doesn't it?

Thinking about this topic, though, I find myself wondering what man in his right mind overlooks the stacks of books on poisons and on women murderers? Who lives happily with bookcases full of historical crime accounts? Who follows his wife around to book events or on research trips or to endless dinners with other writers and actually enjoys most of it?

Now that I contemplate it, who, I ask you, is the unhinged one?

Of course, he has his passions for things inconceivable to me, crossword puzzles and Oklahoma football only two of them. Maybe that's what has kept things so happy for the last twelve years--allowing each other to be eccentric, each in our own way, even when he might wish for more cookbooks and fewer tomes on poison


nick said...

Don't think I'd like to live with a mystery writer - you'd never know what they might be plotting.

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