Is creativity a symptom of madness?


According to a newly published study, it is mooted that being creative is symptomatic of insanity. So, by this line of reasoning, we can derive the conclusion that being above average at problem solving, lateral thinking, and seeking new and better ways of doing anything marks a person out for starters under sedation, with a main course of a spell in the rubber room, straitjacket on the side, with electroshock for dessert.

Media commentators on the report cite various creative folk who went off the rails like Vincent Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and others. Some say that being creative is ‘closely intertwined’ with insanity.

As a writer, and by association a creative, therefore (According to media commentaries of the reports findings) more likely to be unable to distinguish between fact and fantasy, I’d like to look at it via another perspective. What if being a creative person can drive you crazy? Driven nuts by all the non creatives who want to mess around with the original concept to the point where the creator is literally tearing his or her hair out and screaming at them to stop. All because they are the ones who think they know what is more likely to sell. Anyone who has had work published generally finds a perfectly acceptable piece of prose perverted by a busybody who thinks they know better.

Taking the last short story I had published in a magazine back in 2006 as an example, I remember being asked for multiple rewrites to hit the constantly shifting wordage limit because someone had done a ‘really nice picture’ to go with the story. Of course, said rewrites (All four of them) had to be done within a Seventy two hour period when the story editor already had taken two months beforehand to faff around with my stuttering prose. I was really ticked off when I saw the size of the cheque. Seventy five pounds for thirteen hundred and forty two (After four rewrites) words. I did the sums afterwards and reckoned I’d worked for twenty five pence an hour. All for what I thought was a fairly workmanlike and unremarkable ghost story. If that experience is indicative of what happens to authors, is it any wonder so many end up candidates for psychiatric treatment?

I think being creative doesn’t mean you are nuts, my experience would indicate you’re more likely to get driven round the twist by efforts to get your work into the public marketplace. The whole process can be so Byzantine it makes Quantum theory look like childs play.

On the other hand, why pay any attention to my point of view? Being a creative, I’m probably a complete barmcake anyway, so why bother listening to anything I have to say?

Can’t win really. Might as well just kick back and enjoy the ride. Pass me a flapjack, I’m flying down to Rio for the Winter.

Advertisements

Published by:

Martyn K Jones

A writer who first trained as an Electrical Engineer, then fulfilled various roles within the computing industry. First published in 'SuperBike' magazine, 1978 under the pseudonym Harry Matthews. Since then has written and had published a wide variety of work; from PR copy in trade magazines to supernatural short stories and the occasional satirical article. Emigrated to Canada in 2007. Became a Canadian Citizen December 2014. Now branching out as a serious science fiction novelist.

Categories ObservationsTags , ,