Writers have what they consider the 'gift of creation', they are creatures apart who shun a life more ordinary. But they are second rate gods, they are counterfeiters and they bear aloft in their right hand a double-edged sword, for the price they pay to own their gift is to be a misfit, someone who cannot fit in easily to everyday life. There are so many examples of these literary giants that limp through tragic lives towards their end.
Marcel Proust was a closet homosexual with bipolar disorder. Graham Greene made several suicide attempts and sought psychiatric help. He accused Shirley Temple of 'dubious coquetry', saying her sexuality would appeal to vicars. He had a string of sexual encounters during his marriage. Somerset Maugham had an affair with an older man and was gay all his life, although he had a child from a heterosexual affair: "I am not gravely shocked at the sins of others unless they personally affect me".
Wilkie Collins was addicted to opium, Voltaire was a racist by today's queasy standards and Maupassant had an obsessive need for solitude. He suffered from persecution paranoia, making a suicide attempt which landed him in a private asylum. He contracted syphilis as a young man. His epitaph is "I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing". How the reach outstrips the grasp!
Franz Kafka was tortured by sexual desire. He was obsessed by pornography and womanised incessantly. He considered suicide and may have been anorexic. Oscar Wilde was a flamboyant homosexual when to be so was very dangerous and he may also have had syphilis. Tennessee Williams was addicted to alcohol and drugs and suffered from depression. Ernest Hemingway suffered from paranoia and eventually put a gun in his mouth and shot himself dead.
The list goes on and on, brilliant people with an extraordinary gift yet doomed to be imprisoned in their own private hell. Those whom the gods love they first drive mad. The writing fraternity is comparable to the clique of the stage comic. They laugh on stage but weep in their dressing room.
The alternative is to be an ordinary man or woman, the type of ordinary soul that T E Lawrence longed to be, the archetype who marries, has two children and occasionally goes on holiday and rarely thinks deeply because to do so would be weird, even effeminate in a man. He fits into society's matrix, because it was created around people just like him. The creative soul on the other hand is the misfit whose behaviour shocks and offends and who says things that are considered beyond the pale.
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus but only God knows where writers are from.
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