Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 28, 2017

The Duality of the Writing Mind

I seem to exist on two planes of consciousness at once sometimes, and I have found from other writers that I am not alone in this duality. Sometimes I am in a situation that should be all-consuming, yet there is a part of me that is aloof, watching, observing, recording. I do not know if other artistic people experience this (perhaps they can comment) but it has happened to me frequently enough that I accept it as a fact of the writer’s life.

For example, when my best friend was dying of cancer. Kind of a big deal. Lots of strong, deep emotion. An awful, terrible time. But I remember one moment, clear as if someone else was speaking to me, having the thought, “This would make a good story.”

Of course, I felt super-guilty for thinking that. I mean, I should have been completely immersed in the present, where my friend was dying. And most of me was—except for that little writer part of me.

I have had the same sort of duality with the political situation in America. While a large part of me is overwhelmed by the sheer sur-reality of the current political atmosphere, I cannot help but be fascinated how two people can look at the same candidate, and one see a savior and the other see a snake-oil salesman. An object lesson in point-of-view writ large in the real world.

So what accounts for this double-consciousness? I believe now that this duality is actually my empathetic side coming out—it’s me realizing that I am in a moment that is of universal human significance. A moment or situation that highlights some deeper aspect of human nature.

Recognizing this, I no longer worry that it means I am not “connected” enough to the present. In some ways, I may be more deeply connected than I can articulate. I hope that someday I can use what my duality has observed to write stories that matter—that speak to the humanity in all of us.

Do you find yourself feeling this duality?

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