The following essay was taken from an old journal (long in need of updating) that chronicles my writing progress. This piece was written back in 2007, perhaps earlier. It is a tribute to friends and fellow writers.
A Few Mad Friends
“I am but mad north-northwest; when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw”–so said the Danish prince when his stepfather sent “friends” to cajole him out of his dark humor.
I like Hamlet. I like him more and more all the time. Though dysfunctional, my family has never driven me to feign madness–but it has made me wish I could go to my own little place and curl up in a solitary corner.
However, it’s not bizarre family that brings me here today. It’s friends. Fellow victims of the writing madness that causes us to bleed our souls onto pages that (perhaps) no one will ever see. But we don’t do it for anyone else; we do it for ourselves. We do it to keep from running mad.
I keep an inconsistent journal. I think I’m on book number 16 or 17 by now. Some of them span a single year, and some only a few months. I don’t journal every day. There’s no need. But when the fiction won’t fly, and when the poetry is dammed upstream, or when my head is confused with too many options–or not enough–or filled with the remnants of bad dreams, I open the journal and push open the floodgates.
Recently, a different but more enjoyable outlet for the madness was some time spent in the company of a friend who, though he disagrees with me on politics and religion (supposedly two friendship killers, if ever there were), is of a similar mind in many other ways. He’s also a very good storyteller. Two nights this past week, we talked for a combined total of about 8 hours, maybe more. Though life and decisions were tossed into the mix, the main topic was writing: rejections, acceptances, unfinished novels, novels ready for publication–if only they could land on the right desk at the right time.
I was encouraged, pushed, amused, made to think. Life hasn’t been peachy this past week, and Monday may bring news I don’t want to hear, because it may mean the shortening–at the very least, the restructuring–of my life. But I’ve had two days with a good friend, one to whom I need explain nothing, because he’s just as mad as I.
We all need a few mad friends.