I write dark things...
Over the years I’ve often felt driven to write. The need is a form of possession, stemming from these visions, dreams, and concepts that slam into me, often in the middle of the night, with such raw power that I am unable to withstand them. When I give in and let the stories unfold it’s so much easier, because I’m not fighting it. I’m riding the wave of the ecstatic process.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. All writers describe the creative process in much the same way. But something happened to me last year that made me step back and reevaluate my relationship to my writing and creativity.
Last year I was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy from a head trauma when I was ten years of age. I’d fallen off a horse and went boom, broken my arm, and lost consciousness for a time. My arm was addressed, but the doctors didn’t seem to care about my head. See, there was no obvious damage to my brain and this was the 80′s. I didn’t have gran mal/tonic clonic seizures, nothing pronounced, so my brain was ‘fine’. In effect, no one noticed.
But I did. My brain had odd quirks afterwards, but my ability to articulate the differences was difficult, and I didn’t know any better. I went from a sloppy kid to a neat freak overnight. Occasional very brief petit mal/absence seizures left me reset, confused, and having to catch up in the conversation, irritated and wondering why I’d spaced out. I had déjà vu all the time. The seizures also caused me anxiety and irritability due to the aftereffects of the episodes on my brain.
Did this slow me down? Heck no! I’ve had a very successful career as a computer programmer, opened a small winery, and I’ve published one book with more to come. The worst of the epilepsy only caught up with me last year, when I’d finally pushed the wiring past the breaking point due to stress and the petit mal’s grew in duration to where the disorder was finally diagnosable. Yay?
So now when I go back and remember the inspiration for my first published book, Ripples, things look a bit different. I was staying with my immediate and extended family at a beach house in Watsonville, California. I’d awoken in the middle of the night ridden by a ‘nightmare’, of an unknown, tentacled entity reaching out from the wall intent to abduct me away. This was the inspiration for Ripples, and, in retrospect, I recognize this was not a simple nightmare, but a seizure, for I was fully awake. Some of my seizures work that way, with vivid imagery I just can’t shake. Gratefully, they don’t last for long. But when they happen, they are incredibly and deeply detailed.
I am presently editing the first book in my Depths of Memory series. In this sci-fi series a human colony races to prove themselves and survive before more the powerful races can declare their attempt a failure and scrub the planet for higher beings use. In this book the main character, Rai Durmah, suffers from amnesia because others are trying to hide her try identity due to the crimes she committed. Unaware, she seeks to rediscover herself, not knowing she’s racing them all into the path of destruction, which will cause cascading houses of cards to fall. I think my desire to incorporate the amnesia into her role, which is certainly integral into this series, comes from my research into trying to understand the lapses in my memory over the years due to my absence seizures. Oh what a tangled web we weave!
So, in the final analysis, does epilepsy make me more creative as a writer? Certainly no more so than any other human, but I feel it’s driven and pushed me along a different path than others. We are all bound to find our own unique paths along our journey, and this has played a role in mine.
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