A Writer’s Duality

Over the weekends, I like to hold conferences with myself. My other self, I mean. My writer self.

He looks like me, I’m told, but has a different, vague accent. He is creative, always plotting and building characters like pyramids of flesh and blood and words. He absorbs the world and spurts out creativity like it’s Mountain Dew and he’s just eaten asparagus.

Every writer has such a duality, another side to himself. Mine is much more serious, more suave, and a bit crazier. Antsy and energetic, he wakes me while I’m trying to fall asleep. We must live with each other, work with each other, and write with each other. He spits out craziness that becomes words, also giving me interesting ideas at 2 in the morning. But I’m in charge of working it all out, publishing the works he produces to haphazardly. Also, I’m absolutely sure he doesn’t know how to spell or use proper grammar because when I proofread his work, it is usually riddled with mistakes.

But to work together, we have to talk, which is why we talk regularly.

We sit across a table, eyeing each other, discussing things. He exists for a very important reason. Writers sometimes seek to separate themselves from their work. Not that we’re embarrassed by our work, but at times what we obsess over writing comes to interfere with our own lives. For example, while writing a graphic story about a serial killer, I’d often ponder how I might kill one person or another. Not the healthiest habit. Recently, I finished a chapter in my current work-in-progress about a boy’s addiction to meth. I asked someone, “Did you know they sometimes put nail polish in meth? All sorts of acidic things, and that’s why your teeth fall out.”
Often, I encounter the problem of differentiating between what I believe and what the writer believes, for if he writes something, it should be true, right? Or is that something the character believes? The writer must be me, correct, if he lives inside of me. Which he may not. He may be an evil, jovial spirit who occasionally enjoys hanging out in my body and pounding madly on a keyboard until I sweat coffee all over my notes.Well, I tend to write very dark fiction and yet very fun, light poetry. At the best of times, what I

produces falls in between these two extremes, being both comical and emotionally relate-able. But sometimes, I can’t simply be known as the writer, can’t live in writing mode 24/7 which is why I’ve split myself. I’ve created a double-persona: myself and my writer-self.

He sits across the table from me, holding steady discourse. He is a ghost whispering in my ear.

The idea of separating your writing from your personal life is rather obvious. While, yes, I love meeting and spending time with writers, I cannot allow my life to completely revolve around writing. Would Stephen King

still be sane if all he did every day was wonder whether a killer clown was stalking to him or the teenager would set him on fire with her mind? No, he’d go crazy and lock himself in a padded room.

Conversations with my writer self certainly keep things interesting. When I’m performing poetry, I also morph into this other self. Maybe I’m more confident, a little more mind-cluttered. But together, we work like gears. We’re a team.

How do you approach yourself as a writer versus yourself as a person?

About derekberry

Derek Berry is a novelist, poet, and student located in Charleston, SC.

Posted on May 17, 2012, in books, Characters, Poetry, writer, Writing, writing advice and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. VERY interesting. I… I’m not sure how I think of myself as a writer. I mean, I have always thought there was a part of me that was… tactful, articulate, and more intelligent than how I act generally around people. I kind of just had this idea, that because I can sit down and organize literally a thousand and one thoughts, that it made my brain better than other people’s (other people who don’t write during the day so that they can sleep at night, though I keep a notebook on my bedside table, next to my favorite pen). But I never thought of it as a separate me.

    But if I think in the terms you just described… I am not just myself, and then my writer self, there is also a fluid me as well. I am me, and I am a little awkward sometimes. The writer me is, like I said, well spoken and smooth. But the fluid me is completely physical. I don’t talk, I don’t eat, I don’t smoke… I do things fluidly. I have times when I “exercise”. I put on head-phones and I move.

    Sometimes this is martial-arts centered, with or without weapons like staffs (bo staffs – sometimes I even use two. If you don’t know what a bo staff is, youtube it. It’s seriously like, the epitome of fluidity, aside from actual liquid). Other times it is dance-centered, not with specific steps or moves just clear smooth movement often very-fast paced, but slow at times.

    And other times it’s work centered. I do my daily house work SO smoothly. My reflexes are faster than they normally are, my work is a lot more direct, and fast-paced, but it’s also elaborate with bending and stretching to make movement smooth. For example, I only have to take two steps then stretch to put something away in five seconds, instead of ten steps in eight seconds without stretching. It really is like another me, because that’s only me when I’m alone and focused, like when I write or am in writing mode.

    This post is -very- thought-provoking. I love it! Kudos to the fifth. Also, neat that you have a dark side. I usually have a light side, or an ass-kicking side when I write, rarely a dark side though I’m working on it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: