The Voices in My Head: The Musical!

You and me, we have a special relationship. I routinely tell you about how batshit crazy I am and you politely read and even comment. I like it. So in the spirit of our lovely little back and forth I might as well tell you how I talk to myself and hear voices in my head. I say this not to appear  interesting or eccentric.I bring this up because maybe it’ll help others. See, I always just assumed I was nuts, turns out I’m just a playwright!

Ever since childhood, I’ve had in-depth conversations with myself and whoever else was banging around my head. I kept it hidden for years. Finally, when the Bluetooth era exploded I felt like I could come out of the closet. I could safely walk down the street while deep in conversation and no one would question it. Not like anyone ever questioned it in LA to begin with. That’s an entire city of cuckoo birds who wander around chattering to themselves. Nevertheless, the Bluetooth gave me a thumbs up to talk to myself out on the open. Towards the end of my drinking, the out loud conversations with nobody became for frequent and more desperate. I was always telling myself “You’re gonna be alright. Things aren’t that bad. You can get through this.” These mantras were usually followed by whispers of plans that might help get me out of  whatever the mess of the moment I was in and oddly enough, random numbers I would say out loud. Sometimes even cries for help can be mumbled to ourselves I suppose.

As I’ve recovered and changed my life, the conversations continue and  the voice still  pop by to say hi. But it’s not of “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi” variety anymore. In fact, these conversations are now incredibly useful. In my new incarnation as a playwright, I basically try to find stuff for characters to talk about that will propel some sort of a story while entertaining the audience. This task, in the beginning, scared the crap out of me so I knew it was going to be something valuable and miraculous. Eventually. As I started writing, I painfully forced words into the characters mouths and it all sounded incredibly phony and awkward and literal. During the 77 billionth rewrite of my first show and after a late-night breakdown, my husband and creative collaborator asked bluntly,”Why are you writing this show?” I told him through a cloud of tears and bad attitude that I was writing it to get to the heart of how technology has changed the way we communicate and that in the end I think we’re all just trying to make real human connections. “Then do just that,” he told me. I sniffled and calmed down. I realized in that instance I just had to get out-of-the-way, trust the story and keep writing. I went back to the drawing board (I don’t really have a drawing board or even know what that is but I do like that expression) and then the miracles happened. When I shut the naysayers in my mind up, the characters just started talking! All I had to do is write it down. They told me everything as long as I just let them talk. It was that simple. These voices I’d had rambling in my brain since childhood, weren’t trying to hurt me, they just wanted to be on stage! Of course. Even the voices in my head are attention whores.

While writing this new show, the voices are now like old friends. But sassier. They tell me to be quiet so they can keep talking. They tell me to stop questioning the process. They tell  me to let them speak so others can hear their stories. And I happily oblige.

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10 thoughts on “The Voices in My Head: The Musical!

  1. I’m glad it’s not just me that has late-night “breakdowns” (of sorts, anyway), and 77 billion re-writes (or re-coding, in my case). Trusting the process is something I’m learning to do. Doing anything whilst listening to our own negative back-chat can be hard. But there are usually voices (images, in my case) telling us when something is right/wrong, and which way to turn to tweak, tune and improve what we’re doing. If we can just shut the negativity out and learn to trust that intuition.
    I took the weekend off from my project, and I’m looking forward to listening out for those voices on Monday 🙂
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend, all of you; yourself, AND those voices 😉 lol

    • That is it right there, Ian! Trusting intuition. When I was drunk all the time, my intuition could not be trusted for obvious reasons. Today, if I’m paying attention, it’s usually spot on. Hope you and your voices had a good weekend too!

    • Thanks Michele for your comment. And yes it’s nice not to be the only crazy one on the planet. I think you’re right about the art-voices in the head connection. Hard to tell which one came first. Some say artists develope their craft in order to deal with voices and other mental health ‘quirks’. Found this documentary on the art therapy for schizophrenics called Crazy Art which tends to reinforce the postivie powers of creativity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLx0BCjtxx8 Anyway, thanks for popping by!

  2. Oh, God. could it be???…. Maybe I’m not an alcoholic…I’m a Play-write? O-wait, I think mine are trying to kill me…Not the same…never mind…Love the sybil poster, I so identify with that picture! I did have a sponsor once that told me I just had an over-active imagination…, sort of hurt my whittle feelings until I remembered. I learned about them from one of my 1st sponsors and she called them “the committee”. I have come to the conclusion that just not everybody names theirs (Snicker), makes it easier to talk back to them individually…BAHAHAHAH!

    • Ha ha ha! They say all kinds of brilliant people claim to have heard voices–Joan of Ark, Van Gogh, Charles Dickens, Anthony Hopkins. So maybe we’re crazy but we’re in good company!

  3. Sean, this is so fabulous! Your voices sound like my voices. I loved this part because it sounds like just like Dave and me talking:During the 77 billionth rewrite of my first show and after a late-night breakdown, my husband and creative collaborator asked bluntly,”Why are you writing this show?” I told him through a cloud of tears and bad attitude that I was writing it to get to the heart of how technology has changed the way we communicate and that in the end I think we’re all just trying to make real human connections. “Then do just that,” he told me. I sniffled and calmed down. I realized in that instance I just had to get out-of-the-way, trust the story and keep writing.

    I don’t write stories, but I can’t tell you how many times I am trying to tell him about a writing problem and he asks me questions until i finally say it–and then he says, “Just say that!” Last night, I was stuck on the last lines of today’s post and we had the same kind of exchange. He even sat down with me for a while at the computer. Nothing. Muck. So we went to dinner and I came back and said to myself: what the heck is this piece about? What am I trying to say? And then the silly two lines came. Do you ever find that it’s not time-consuming to write whatever it is–but it’s always that one snag, that glitch, that darling, that spot–the paragraph or line or two that take all the time. Like God locks a little mystery in each piece or story that we have to unlock and can’t reach apart from going deeper inside and being even more honest than we thought we were already being. And all the fiddling and literary devices in the world can’t unlock it. Ok, I’m rambling. Love ya, bro.

    • I love it, Heather. It’s nice to know that as writers, like as addicts and alcoholics, we’re not alone. I’m glad I’m not the only one who wrestles with tiny words and drives myself crazy. I had the realization recently that whether it’s this blog or my play or copywriting projects that stall out it’s usually because they’re bullshit. When I’m trying too hard or not telling the truth, chances are I get stuck. Even with the fictional stuff it has to be born from somewhere real otherwise I’m screwed. For it to flow out of me and to feel inspired, I have to start with the truth. Which for a deceitful addict like myself can be a challenge. Now, I’m rambling. I could talk about writing all day.

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