On Mental Illness, Dishonesty, & Swearing


Just another manic Monday, right? It’s snowing. Again. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

There’s a link floating around (I may
have shared it, can’t remember) drawing similarities between successful writers and the mentally ill.  A little while earlier, there was this article on how creativity and dishonesty
often go hand in hand. And of course there’s the meme that occasionally
goes around FB about how people who use cuss words tend to be perceived
as being more trustworthy/honest.

Ironically,
all of these are somewhat depressing for me, but not in the way you might
think. You see, I’m not mentally ill. Sure, I have a rather rich
fantasy life that translates into stories which I then feel the need to
write down and share, but while I may occasionally feel “down”, I’m not
clinically depressed, and while I may talk to myself occasionally and
have a “thing” about cupboard doors/drawers being left open, I’m not
crazy. I don’t neglect my husband, I keep my obsessive-compulsive
tendencies in check for the most part, and I live a fairly balanced
life.

Strike one.


I’m also not terribly fond
of what lying accomplishes or the work it takes to actually keep a lie
going, so I’m honest probably 98.9 percent of the time. Heck, I can’t
even keep my pen names secret. Besides, I generally prefer to just get
whatever fallout might be coming due to telling the truth over with, so
no one can “find out later” and have anything to hold over me. I don’t
like prolonging pain or punishment – I’m a “get it done and over with”
kinda girl. So I rarely lie, which gives me strike two, if we’re going off the articles above.

My third
strike comes in very rarely swearing, and hardly ever in front of
people. This isn’t actually because I have any kind of moral objection
to it, and it doesn’t offend me when others swear (though excessive
swearing does make me roll my eyes – as does most excessive “drama”). I simply
never learned how. I grew up in a house where no one
used “those words”, and if you did, you literally got your mouth
washed out with soap. My mother was very fond of telling us that those
who resorted to cuss words didn’t have a large enough vocabulary.
My dad only cussed when he was *really* mad and yelling. Considering I lived at home all through my college years, and worked
pretty much full time from when I turned 15 (swearing is usually
frowned on in a work environment with lots of public contact), there was
never a time when I was really in an environment to learn to use those
types of words effectively – or even to be around other people using them frequently.

Yes,
my characters cuss whenever it suits them, and there are occasions
where I’ll mumble a well-placed swear word under my breath, but it’s
rare, and as I said above, even more rare in front of an audience.
Strike three! 

So apparently,
according to the internet at large (or three random benchmarks of a
creative personality, rather), I can’t possibly be successful as a writer. The
question then becomes, if the realization of all this depresses me
enough to drag me down into a clinically diagnosed funk, wherein I begin
to lie compulsively and develop a sailor’s vocabulary from the sheer
hopelessness of it all, will I have a better chance at actually being a
successful writer?

Brain
chemistry being what it is, I doubt we’ll ever find out the answer to
that question (thank goodness). As to whether or not I’ll ever be a “successful” writer despite my generally optimistic disposition, my
tendencies toward honesty and my lack of colorful vocabulary, I’ll let
you know when/if I decide to stop writing. As it is, I make enough money
selling books to buy more books, and writing keeps the voices from
being stuck in my head (which probably keeps me from going crazy).

For now, that’s success enough for me.

Here’s to a creative, happy, less-snowy (please!) week…


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6 comments on “On Mental Illness, Dishonesty, & Swearing

  1. Ardee Eichelmann

    Jamie, for what it is worth neither of the articles you cited are truly scholarly nor have they been peer reviewed. The first is based on “cherry picked” anecdotes and while the second one involves some research and testing the design for the test seems flawed and biased. Also, the results are not peer reviewed. I call “hogwash” on both of them. Their “science” isn’t just flawed, it totally screams “scientific jargon” at best.

    As for the meme you referred to, I haven’t seen it but there truly is research that even though many people curse/cuss that those who do are often viewed as being out of line, so to speak. I am too lazy to look up the articles but I do believe that some of them are actually peer reviewed.

    I say all of this to let you know that you do not need to worry about that nonsense. You are very creative, you are a good writer and your writing improves steadily. As your catalog grows so will your sales. It all takes time. You are out there writing more stories rather than spending your time promoting yourself so that is one reason your sales may not be as high as they could be but I think you are on the right track. You are in charge of your publishing. You are doing what you want to do and frankly you are doing a darn fine job of it too.

    Cheers,

    Ardee-ann

  2. Jamie DeBree

    Of course they aren’t, Ardee-ann. 🙂 You may note I was poking a bit of fun…and pointing out how illogical it all is. I think there are just as many mentally stable writers out there as those who suffer from various ailments – just the stable ones aren’t all that interesting to write articles about. 😉

    Thank you, as always for your support…when I do happen to feel down about things, you are one of the people who keeps me upbeat and motivated, and I really appreciate that. 😀

  3. Ardee Eichelmann

    Jamie, do you know that I can be very literal when I read things? That is why I am a “good reader,” the story sucks me in and I totally believe it, at least while I am reading it and some things I continue to wonder about when I am through with the book(which is why I don’t read some of the horror stuff).

    Sometimes I miss “tongue in cheek” because of this. I think that because I used books(and writing) as a means of escape and refuge to a rather extreme degree when I was younger is in part “to blame” for this tendency. Ahem!

    As for being supportive, I have often been referred to as a “Pollyanna” and not always in a nice way. Not everyone wants support, some people just want to be in bad moods. Can you imagine that? I can’t so I sometimes annoy people with my efforts to make things better.

    I have seen the truly hideous side of life up close and personal because of my previous career. I think it is because of this that I always look for silver linings and those rays of sunshine. The truly sullen among us do not care for such things. That being said I have found that I can get on the nerves of normal people too. So if you ever need me to just knock it off just let me know. I realize that sometimes we need to “lean into” the darkness for a while and don’t really want the light turned on. For example I love raw, gray November days. My mom things that is crazy but they speak to my soul so I understand the desire to “get lost in the mists” for a while. I just don’t always recognize when it is needed and when it is not because I am just so danged “helpful.” 😉

  4. Carol

    Chronically depressed – check
    Lies like a cheap rug – check
    Swears like a sailor – check

    That must make me a creative genius! ROTFL 😀

  5. Jamie DeBree

    I do know that about you, Ardee-ann. And you don’t bug me one bit, so just keep being you. I like you that way. 🙂

  6. Jamie DeBree

    Excellent! Now get back to work, because with that logic, a few more books and you’ll also be a millionaire! LOL