Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not Schizophrenia At All

I've spent the past few days alternately working on job hunting, and writing. I ended up writing three completely distinct opening chapters for three completely distinct novels. The word "schizophrenic" seems to be one that comes up a bit when I mention this. But as I mentioned in my last post, I am totally not schizophrenic.

Totally not. Not even a little.


Somehow, all three of these chapters ended up smack dab in the fantasy genre, more or less. Clearly I've been immersed in nerd culture for far too long. Or just the right amount of time, depending on your perspective.

I've got plenty of short story ideas that are perfectly Mainstream and Literary and have nothing to do with the fantasy genre, but somehow all my more novelistic ideas tend to be either fantasy, sci-fi, or a strange mix of the two. (Okay, not really so strange: it stopped being strange when Star Wars did it. But still, Star Wars never had elves, and it didn't have real honest to goodness dragons.) This may say something deep and insightful about my personality, or it may just be how my mental processes happen to be going at the time.

Just so long as I don't become one of those sf/f writers who uses the genre to disguise the fact that they had shitty plots and no real characters at all...

Anyway. Back to job-hunting.


Not so long ago, I was teaching a DeCal class at UC Berkeley on comics. (DeCal classes are student-run classes, one of the many unique features of UC Berkeley. Link!) It was the first lecture of the semester, which is always the most awkward because no one knows you and you don't know them, and half the people in there are ambivalent about showing up anyway and will probably drop the class by next session.

I gave a very rambly lecture on the history of comics. Somewhere in there I mixed up my topics; silver ages and bronze ages tend to twist your tongue when you aren't sleeping much. (Fact: UC college students never sleep much.) I looked across the classroom at confused faces.

"Sorry for the schizophrenic lecture," I said, or something about that. Then I ad-libbed a Humorous Joke to Defuse the Situation. "It's because I'm ... well ... schizophrenic," I deadpanned.

Silence. Students gave confused glances at each other while I blithely leaped to the next topic. I didn't even realize the significance of the confused glances until someone asked me after class: "Are you really schizophrenic?"

"No!" I replied, astonished.

"Because you said you were, and everyone thought you were serious..."

So let me just clarify: I am not schizophrenic. Schizophrenia, according to the infallible Wikipedia, is "a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality" which "most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking in the context of significant social or occupational dysfunction." While I'm sure that fits most people who might read blogs like this one (har, har), I've never experienced an auditory hallucination (that's like visual hallucination, but with your ears), my paranoid and bizarre delusions are confined to the imaginary people who live inside my head, and I prefer to think of my speech and thinking as not so much "disorganized" as "creatively reorganized".

I ... er, just thought I'd mention.

Was I supposed to be doing something? I can't remember. Uh-oh.