ARE WRITERS CRAZY TO SPEND THOUSANDS OF HOURS WRITING? By Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Can a writer get money, fame, prestige, and power if his work is successful?

Sure, but how many Conroys, Salingers, or Twains will actually emerge from today’s millions of hungry scribes, and can those few produce characters like Tom Wingo, Holden Caulfield or Huck Finn?

Did you know that in the movie industry, writers are treated like an expendable commodity? The producers have the money and the power, and if one writer isn’t the right flavor they just toss their partially licked ice cream cone into the trash, reach into the pocket of their very-skinny Armani jeans, and buy another writer.

Since most of us are bright and determined, and know that spending thousands of hours writing is like adding a drop of water to the ocean, why do we indulge in this lunacy?

There’s something very special about sharing the stories that are miraculously transferred from our minds to the printed page. The act of creating is like giving birth to an alternative reality. It’s no wonder that attempting to edit our creation is often like Sophie’s Choice. We love all our babies, so choosing which to erase can be very difficult.

I just reread Catcher in the Rye for the fourth time. Even now, over sixty years after it was published, Holden is still able to touch my heart. He is the ultimate, naive anti-hero. Don’t give up, I scream silently, as I grip the worn pocketbook. Don’t let the world control you! Be brave! Don’t capitulate! DON’T EVER SELL OUT!

So are we crazy? Of course, but who cares…

If you enjoy being Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, and Skin Dance, a mystery. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.

BACK STORY — THE ENGINE OF THE UNCONSCIOUS, By Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Remember how tasty and comforting it was to be breast fed? How you fought and yelled when you had to stop pooping in your diaper and had to use the potty?

You don’t remember?

No worries.

99.99 percent of us have no clue as to what happened before age 5. What’s left of that distant past are only shadows and vague innuendoes (psychiatrists call them screen memories), but because we’re walking the streets in our big boy pants, we can assume that toilet training was a rousing success. Also, as a well deserved aside, the male obsession with breasts is also connected with those early not-remembered experiences.

What if, like Joe Belmont, in Chasing Backwards, you had to spend a year in a pediatric hospital, or like Tom Wingo, in Prince of Tides, your father’s brutal behavior haunted you on a daily basis or like Henry Skrimshander, in The Art of Fielding, your father’s critical perfectionism almost ruined you? And what if all those traumatic experiences were only vaguely remembered or not remembered at all?

Most of us weren’t extraordinarily traumatized, but just average kids trying to survive a strange and unfamiliar world. But since all parents are imperfect, every one of us has been to some degree wounded.

Our forgotten past, the Back Story that occurred before we could think clearly, is often the real story. It is the engine that gives us passion or takes our passion away. It is the engine that drives writers to write, physicians to heal, teachers to teach, mechanics to fix and on and on and on.

Art Smukler MD is the author of Skin Dance, a mystery, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, and the blog, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist.