I’m Not A Psychopath. Honest.

I’m Not A Psychopath. Honest.

Sometimes, I have a hard time convincing my friends and family that I’m not a psychopath. Caitlin’s convinced that, if I’m not a psycho, I’m a sociopath. But I don’t think I’m any type of path (not even a garden path… ohhh, bad jokes in the first paragraph). I think I’m just a writer.

I’m not sure where it started. Was it the accidental exclamation of, “I know who I can kill!” on a bus when working out plot in my head, leading to every other person there turning to look at me? Or perhaps they overheard me bouncing ideas off Caitlin: “I suppose I could leave Lawrence alive, but don’t you think it would be funnier to kill him? I mean, funnier for me. Not for him. It would be a simple matter to push him off the cliff, and everyone would think it was an accident.”

Either way, I think most of the people who regularly travel on the 51 bus think that I’m some sort of serial killer and are wondering why I haven’t been arrested yet.

Then there’s the small matter of my internet and library history. Previously it was stacks of books on the Celts and their society and mythology. My computer was clogged up with links to pages about Niall Noigilleach and the Dagda and the sidhe, not to mention those good Old Irish verbforms that distracted me for several hours a while back.

Unfortunately, at the moment it’s rather more suspicious. I went to the library today to pick up three books for which I’d placed a hold, since they were from the specialist library not my local and had to be transferred so that a layman like me could read them. (I do like the fact that this college library is on the borough system as a lot of the books I try and borrow are quite specialist.) When I got to the desk and asked for them, giving them my name, the librarian brought them over and said, “Are these all for you?”

She might well have wondered. I was borrowing “Behemoth” by Scott Westerfeld, a steampunk YA novel, “Diaghilev and the golden age of the Ballet Russes”, as research for an art project, and “A history of witchcraft: sorcerers, heretics and pagans”. A slightly eclectic combination indeed! (The last of those is also for research purposes, this time for a novel. Seriously. I don’t normally borrow books about witchcraft, I swear.)

My Google search history causes a few raised eyebrows – “How long does it take to dance to death?”; “impact wounds from being pushed off cliff”; and “pagan sacrifice” being just a few of the things I’ve typed in recently. You might remember that I mentioned a novel based around the Rite of Spring, and I hold that up as evidence that I’m not a pyschopath.

Not a psycho. Just a writer.

Not a sociopath, even if it never occurred to me that, “I know who I can kill!” would be an unacceptable thing to say in public. Just a writer.

I’m not the only one.

On the NaNoWriMo forums, under NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul, there’s a thread called, “My internet history could get me arrested.” There we commiserate over things we’ve had to look up for novels that non-writers would never understand, and which are the reasons we delete our history every week or so.

All sorts of research goes into writing, even if it’s in a modern day time period. Non-writers don’t seem to realise this. They think only historical novels need research, but I’ve had to do research for everything I’ve ever written.

I’m still trying to convince the world that I’m not a pyschopath.

It’s hard, when Google doesn’t have all the answers and I have to resort to public libraries, where people can see what I’m borrowing. It’s hard, when I plot in boring lessons and have brainwaves and have to share them with my friend and fellow writer, KM, and other people overhear. It’s hard when I’m discussing my latest projects and the one phrase that a stranger walking past hears is, “I mean, obviously it would be upsetting for her family if I sacrificed her, but if they believe it’s the right thing to do, who am I to argue?” and you can’t think of a way to explain.

Someone should get me a t-shirt that says, WRITER NOT PSYCHO.

Or perhaps mass producing them would be a good idea. If the NaNo forums are anything to go by, I’m really not the only one.

16 thoughts on “I’m Not A Psychopath. Honest.

  1. Hehe, you think YOU freak people out? Here’s a personal favourite story of mine that shows nearly all writers looks like murderers at some stage in their lives:

    I was on a bus in Florida, riding into central Tampa to visit Barnes and Noble, the bookstore. I ended up sitting next to a man carrying a large manuscript. Turns out he was a writer, and we got talking. However, at the awkward moment where the bus stops and people start getting on and off, I declare “Oh yeah, I LOVE killing people!”
    The rest of the bus gave me a very wide berth after that. As in, they literally stepped away from me when I got off the bus.

    As you said: not a psycho, just a writer. Yeah. :P

    1. Haha, that’s funny. Cool that you met another writer, though – I’ve yet to run into one on a bus.

      In a Physics lesson the other day, K.M. asks me why I’m looking so cheerful (I kept randomly giggling) and I say, “I’ve just worked out how to kill Mel! Oh, this is going to be fun…”

        1. True, although I might get myself in solitary when it actually came to the murder. I always cry and gnash my teeth and behave like a wild thing when it comes to it. It’s just fun to plan… ;D

          1. Hee hee, I’m the crazy one who finds it positively entertaining and starts cackling and sniggering evilly … and then I realise what I’ve done and start crying xD

  2. Being fairly new to the wonderful world of novel writing, I don’t have any similar experiences to share, unfortunately. So far my research has been for very tame information, the type expected of a fantasy writer, like the colors of dye that were available in the middle ages and different varieties of siege weapons. I’m sure as I continue down my noveling path I’ll have things a touch more morbid to look up. Great post!

    1. Thanks!
      My first novel I did very little research, and it shows. I did a bit more later, but not much. I tend to figure that fantasy = different world or reality = I make the rules = no research needed. It’s probably just as well I don’t write straight fantasy any more.

  3. The hubby looks at me strangely when I talk about my books. Thankfully my mom is more understanding and I can bounce stuff off her. She’s also my go to for information on how battered women behave. Apparently the wishy washy sometimes horribly clingy rape victim is behaving exactly as she might. And the person who will get her to even out a bit, could actually work.. crazy!

    Thankfully no one at work hears me snicker, giggle or shudder and asks what’s going on. I still remember looking up medieval torture devices and the comments the character they were for (aka the guy who was going to use them) commenting in my head – I included his comments in my note. If anyone read though…

    Yup – writer, not a psycho.

    :} Cathryn / Elorithryn

    1. I have a few friends who understand – KM being one of them. She sits there laughing at me in Physics lessons. My mum’s response is always, “You need to be careful what you fill your head with.”

  4. During line edits a few months ago, I spent at least a good forty minutes in a coffee shop looking up how long it takes to burn a body to ash and hoping desperately that no one was reading over my sholder.

    I think it’s an occupational hazard.

    1. Ha ha, there’s a reason I do most of my research in my room at home, or in the corner of the silent study section in the public library (there are lots of reference books. It’s awesome). The Old Irish verbforms I did in the school library, but the librarian likes me, so all is well.

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