Listen to the Voices

Posted on 27/08/2011 by


Me: Don’t listen to the voices. You know how that turns out.
Arkem: Cake and parties?
Me: No. That’s where blood in backstories comes from.
Arkem: Oh.

This is good advice. I give excellent advice. Like, Don’t and Panic. In the correct circumstances you should totally follow those. Same with the thing about the voices. Unless you’re a writer. Then maybe you should listen to them. (Unless they say ‘kill the prince’. Don’t do that. Well, okay, if he really deserved it. Or it’ll serve the plot. Or it’ll be funny. NB: Do not use these arguments as a basis for real life decisions.)

If you’re a writer (or an artist of any kind, I guess) the voices are just another part of your mind (usually the part that’s a little less attached to reality than the rest). My voices are the parts of my mind that ask me ridiculous questions and make me laugh when I’m not supposed to, that notice things I wouldn’t otherwise and suggest putting things together that didn’t fit before. They also wake me up in the middle of the night, distract me during exams, and yes, they’re responsible for the blood in the backstories. But that’s okay because sometimes that’s my favourte part.

I feel like I should do a public service announcement here: Not all writers do this. Some of them are perfectly sensible. Some of them have, “no four-year-old chirping, ‘why do you think aspen trunks turn black?’ …. no bad-ass tattooed teenager eyeing the man next to us in line, nudging [them] to notice his beautiful… uh… hands.  No historian running commentary on every little thing [they] see, no philosopher or romantic spinning legends of tiny facts.”

Oh wait. She said they were asleep.* My mistake.

By the way if hearing her description made you think, Oh yeah, I know them, it’s likely you’re a bit of an artist of some kind (or further along on the crazy train than you’re admitting).

Now… generally by the time I’m done saying, “I hear voices” people are backing away from me and I’m calling after them, “I’m not crazy, I’m a writer” and I see them get this look that says, “How are those two things different?” Just… try to restrain yourselves, okay? And tell me this instead: ever hear voices?

(P.S. I meant what I said, if your voices are telling you to butcher puppies do it in fiction, or, you know, tell someone with a badge or a stethoscope or something.)


* The idea of the voices being asleep is a little weird to me. Mine never seem to shut up. I’ve only had them be quiet twice in my life that I remember, and in both cases I was well and truly justifiably distracted. Of course, I think if they went away I would miss them.


Posted in: Kandace, Research