Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Quoted: Alice Flaherty on the similarities between psychiatric hospitals and writers' colonies

Psychiatric hospitals are not terrible places to write – they bear certain similarities to writers’ colonies like Yaddo, except that health insurance pays. And except that if you spend too much time in your room writing, ‘isolative’ is entered on your charts. Everything is done for you in the hospital; it is like a womb. For the first three days I gave in to my catatonic urges and spent twenty hours a day in bed. Because I had worked successfully until the day before I was admitted, I convinced myself I was in the hospital for a rest cure. Although that was whitewash, when the medications were restarted, U became agitated again and began badgering the staff about my discharge. That accomplished,I was soon back at work, outwardly the same. Work, in fact, generally pushed moods out of my head, as my patients were always so much more unhappy than I was. — Alice W. Flaherty from The Midnight Disease
Although this particular passage is about being in a psych ward (and reeks vaguely of entitlement still), the entire book is worth a read simply because there aren’t any other books I can think of written about a topic as esoteric as hypergraphia. I’m a “fits and starts” writer myself, though I’m not entirely sure my own writing reaches the crazed peaks of hypergraphia. I find free writing exercises too overstimulating, so maybe it does. I have a “crazy journal” where I dump random thoughts with no editing and most of it is an illegible, unusable mess good only for therapeutic purposes.