I was certainly having a “pity me” party in my last post. It’s something that’s been festering in me for several years. Guess I just needed to spout it. Then, after I had, I made an important discovery.
There’s a condition called hypergraphia — it really came to light under the research of Alice Flaherty and her book The Midnight Disease. Basically, someone who has hypergraphia can’t stop writing, even if what they write doesn’t make sense. It gets long and complicated, so I’m not getting into details here, but after reading about it, I realized that I had had hypergraphia and it’s a disease. I always knew that I was different from other writers I knew because I couldn’t stop for anything. Most writers talk about how they would rather do housework or walk both ways uphill to the grocery store through 10 feet of snow, while all I wanted to do was to shove everything out of my life in order to write. I couldn’t imagine not writing. I remember hearing a writer say how she took a year off of writing and I couldn’t even imagine not writing for that long. I was obsessed.
I didn’t go into a lot of the details in my last post. I’m not even sure I want to here, but I also wonder if it won’t help someone else out there who is struggling and floundering like I was. Okay, here goes.
The first time my writing went away, I was pregnant. One day, the desire to write just went away. About the same time I started getting sick. I knew something was wrong. I kept working on the book I had in progress, but things weren’t flowing. Long story short here, I ended up having a miscarriage. I was hemorrhaging all over the emergency room, scaring the specialist that had been called in, and my husband was worried I was going to pass out on him and never wake up. He kept asking me what I was thinking. I know he was just trying to keep me talking and awake, but I resented it. I lied when I told him that I was just trying to focus what was going on. I knew I was okay and my mind was racing, but not about the tragedy I was going through, but on my book. The desire to write had returned just as suddenly as it had stopped and all I wanted to do was to get back to my typewriter. I finished my novel in my head while I was lying in the emergency room. But how was I supposed to express this to the man I loved or anyone else when it would’ve seemed callous, when I had my own conflicting emotions of mourning and celebration.
When I became pregnant again, I lost the desire to write again. I suspected this would be the case, but it didn’t make it any easier. Whenever I expressed my irritation over losing the desire, I was told, “Oh, you’re just being creative in another way.” I felt that no one understood. Looking back now, I can tell that this was probably true, since no one could understand the obsession that drove me to write to begin with. After I gave birth to my first child, I did regain some of the desire to write. I wondered if it would return in time. It never again became the obsession it once had.
My third pregnancy had the same path as the second had. I lost the desire as soon as I became pregnant. This time, because I was in an excellent critique group, I tried to write through it. I imagined that this is what people felt when they would’ve rather been doing housework instead of writing. My group told me it was the best writing they’d ever seen — imagine how that crushed me (sorry guys – no offense — I understand now). However, the desire didn’t return except in waves that don’t last long. I’ve tried to write, even fooled myself for a long time that I did have the desire, but I can’t keep that blind joy in my heart.
I slowly let my writing slip away, which opened the door for art. Looking back, it isn’t a hard stretch to see that I’ve been on this path for a long time without realizing it, but I had to get over the disease that gripped me. And the obsession to write was oh so a disease. All I can say is that being pregnant stabilized the hormones that caused the disease (in Alice Flaherty’s case, it was the opposite). I’ve told myself for so long that I should be thankful because I believe I’m on a better path now, but I’ve still had the fear that something was wrong because I didn’t feel the dead hard passion that I once had. I feel that I’m not explaining it well enough and I’m probably not. I believe it’s something one has to experience to really understand.
But now the sun has started to rise and I see the light. I understand it was a disease and I’m in recovery. Discovering hypergraphia has brought me a sense of peace. I realize and hope that I won’t ever be obsessed again, but rather that I can execute everything I do out of passion, not wild need. I can see myself writing a book in the future, not because I have to but because I want to. I’ve finally found that centerpoint where I can have painting and writing in my life without worrying about them conflicting inside my head like I once feared they might.
Well, thanks for sharing a part of my life I never imagined would be so public. I certainly hope it helps someone out there.
I’ve been working on my goals for 2009. How about you? 2008 was a year of reflection for me. I did a lot of soul searching, and I found some answers, as you can see from above. My goals for 2009 entail taking control of many factors in my life. I’m making a few changes here in my blog. My websites will be redesigned soon. And there will be so much more. Stay tuned here to see it all happen.