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.