‘There is absolutely no point in sitting down to write a book unless you feel that you must write that book, or else go mad, or die.’ ~Robertson Davis
Fever. There is nothing worse than having a fever, when your mind is clouded as you stumble to get from point a (the couch) to point b (the kitchen) because your mouth feels like the Sahara. When you do “the wall walk” because you aren’t sure if your knees will hold your weight. When you entertain the idea of your eyeballs dangling in a glass of ice water. If you must make conversation, you realize that you are only hearing half the words spoken, which would be amusing in any other circumstance. If you didn’t have a fever. No one escapes a life without, at the very least, one bout of fever.
Writing fever is something all together different. In fact, it’s widely misunderstood. Even my son, who has lived with me now for the past eleven years, doesn’t understand when I say, “I need to write tonight.” I don’t say that I want to write tonight. I want ice cream. I want a new car. I want a million dollars.
I need to write. It’s a fever.
Most of the time, it burns just above normal an doesn’t affect my daily life. I go to work. Conversations are complete. There is no anxiety or desperation. A few jotted down notes will suffice until I can sit down after Jaz is in bed and fully flesh out the concept.
Sometimes, though, the fever burns bright. Entire days lost in the twisting plot that needs to be on paper. Now. Writer’s fever. People begin to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Notes made everywhere and on everything. A can of black beans warmed in the microwave is too much effort for dinner, so you settle on two pieces of buttered toast. Entire dialogues written on a napkin. With a wet ring in the middle that you wrote around because you couldn’t find anywhere else to write. Eyeliner on my mirror. Once writer’s fever has become this hot, there is no cure except to sit at the computer, or with a notebook, or napkin, and put the idea on paper.
This fever hit me yesterday. A short-story, currently untitled. I was moving furniture upstairs and, with my bed half moved, blocking the hallway with the headboard in one room and frame poking into the other, I ran downstairs and started writing. My bed is still blocking the hallway. Good thing my son is visiting his father. Late last night, I fell into a fitful sleep as the plot and dialogue, descriptions and characterization kept me awake. I was exhausted going to work this morning and spent the entire day finishing the plot, typing notes on my phone, and saying uh-huh a lot. I couldn’t break the fever.
I suppose it’s hard to understand the fever if you’re not a writer. Try as I might, I can’t think of a similar analogy. Just know, that if you have a writer in your life, you will witness this fever as they glue themselves to the computer. Dinners might consist of ramen noodles, or Spaghetti O’s because they take less work. Appointments, or anniversaries, might be forgotten. They will crawl into bed long after you’ve retired for the night and be up before the sun. Trust me, there is nothing to worry about. It’s just writer’s fever. Let it run it’s course, and soon your loved one will return to normal.