Confessions of a Writer Gone Mad
My eccentric hippie Writer’s Craft high-school teacher would often begin our classes with free writing exercises. When he first introduced this idea of free writing I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. One of us asked: “So you want us to write about whatever comes to mind, grammatical errors and all?” He flailed his hippie hands and said “Yupp, now write. Write whatever.” I remember looking down at my piece of lined paper with my pen in my hand just begging it to move but I couldn’t help but reminisce about my grammar preaching, sentence structuring, coherent campaigning school teachers without shuttering. I was faced with a challenge- free writing. You wouldn’t think so, right? I mean, writing whatever you want about whatever you want should be easy. Think again. It’s the hardest thing known to student kind. How could I possibly write freely when I had been molded into a student who had learned that freedom and writing don’t go hand in hand? I wish I had kept some of those writing pieces so I could go back and read some of them. On second thought, no. It would probably make my skin crawl. I’m telling you, old habits die hard. I am by no means a writer who can participate in free writing. I’m what you would call an O.C.D writer; a writer with perfectionism running through her veins with an incessant brain twitch that irks me and manically taunts “Naa, read it again. Something doesn’t sound right. Read that sentence over. No again. Find a better word. Not good enough. Find another one. Okay, read it again (times 20).” This is not the exaggerated truth either. It’s become my worst nightmare. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gone mad. Perhaps I have. This is going to be a tough one to explain to my patients –just kidding. I’m not a psychiatrist, just someone who may be in need of one.
So could I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Out of some good fun I thought I’d take an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder test. I have to add that this test is online. It’s an accurate diagnosis too, given by the one and only Doctor Web (I hope you sense my sarcasm here). If you’re curious like I was, try taking the test here: http://psychcentral.com/ocdquiz.htm. You might giggle at some of the questions or you might panic. Giggle, please. It might do you some good. This test is beyond ridiculous. You have to read some of these questions. They’re kind of silly. For example, Question 10 reads: Have you worried about acting on an unwanted and senseless urge or impulse, such as physically harming a loved one, pushing a stranger in front of a bus, steering your car into oncoming traffic; inappropriate sexual contact; or poisoning dinner guests? Well there was this one time at band camp…
So upon taking the test I clicked submit and waited for my results. I scored a 2 (0-7 –O.C.D is unlikely). Well thank goodness I thought. Now I suppose I can return to reading and re-reading, editing and re-editing without a concern in the world because I’m okay. I’m okay. For a moment I thought…ah well, never mind. Just because I may read my writing 10 times over (sometimes 20) before I submit my post or I make sure that every comma is properly placed, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me (don’t judge me). I just want my writing to be perfect (even though it’s far from it) and I don’t think I’m a writer who is any different than the others. It just means I care and I’m concerned about whether my reader will understand me. It’s writing without giving up. I haven’t lost my marbles, err I mean words…yet.