How can I go crazy?

Okay, I know I’m crazy already. But I’m crazy in a “oh crap I’m trying to do way too much this summer and I’m going to snap” kind of way, which is not the way I need.

So — because I’m amused to see what responses I will get — I will throw this open to you, the great LJ mind.

Tiresias, a seer in Midnight Never Come, lost his mind years ago, through spending waaaaaaay too much time living in a faerie palace. He can’t tell his prophetic visions from the things around him from the stuff he’s just making up, and he’s lost any sense of when events are taking place; the few parts of the book written from his point of view will not have dates attached to them as everything else does, and do not take place in the order they’re presented. His is a very particularly dream-like madness.

. . . but I have a hard time remembering my dreams, and don’t do dream-like writing well. So I ask you, oh great LJ mind: what methods would you recommend for getting myself into the proper state of mind to write this book’s Tiresias scenes? How can I make myself go the right kind of crazy, or at least play it on TV the page?

0 Responses to “How can I go crazy?”

  1. moonandserpent

    A) More Hallucinogens.

    B) While not useful in the short term, I’d suggest keeping a dream journal. You will eventually remember more and more of your dreams if you get into the habit of jotting down a few notes on your nocturnal life when waking. I used to not remember my dreams and now look at the ghastly highlights I put on LJ all the time 🙂

    C) Ummmm…. include lots of symbolism? Write while drunk… no wait, you don’t drink… hmmm….

    • kurayami_hime

      As alternatives to drink and better living through chemistry, you can mess yourself up fairly well on Tootsie rolls or gummy worms. Worst hangover of my life was a gummy worm one (I’m sure staying up the entire night while eating said candy had noooooothing to do with it).

      • Marie Brennan

        Yeah, I’m contemplating staying up all night on sugar and caffeine. Might be worth a shot, at least.

        • sapphohestia

          Sleep deprivation for the win!!! Especially useful is sleep deprivation for you + hangout time with friends who are talking about really weird stuff. Provide *them* with lots of sugar that way you’ll be in a very mellow, out-of-touch place while they’re zooming around in sugar-high land.

          And dream journals also help. Cats are very useful for helping you remember dreams because they enjoy waking you up in the middle of sleep cycles so you can chase them out of the room for ripping up your upholstered furniture.

          • Marie Brennan

            Not that we know anybody suffering such depradation from cats, right?

          • sapphohestia

            Of course not. My cats completely respect that their person is diurnal and requires a full night’s sleep. They never wake me up at 5 in the morning to savage my feet and demand an early breakfast or stay up until 1 am running races. Never!

    • Marie Brennan

      I raise my eyebrow at your use of the word “more” in Option A. <g>

    • kendokamel

      I agree with option B. I started keeping one a few years ago, and I find it somewhat helpful, at the very least so that I don’t spend the rest of the day trying to figure out what the heck that weird memory is and where it came from… (It also helps me to keep track of the things that eventually happen from the crazy stuff my brain decides to make up during my nocturnal adventures.)

      Sometimes it’s just random scribbles and words/ideas, but sometimes, it can get very detailed.

      Another thing that you could do would be to write as if you were brainstorming. Just write down whatever comes into your head (or into Tiresias’ head, I suppose), and then put it away for awhile. When you look at it, the next time, see if there is a train of thought (broken or otherwise) that you’d like to follow, and hop on.

      • Marie Brennan

        My problem with the dream journal thing is that I have to get my glasses on before I can do anything, and by the time I do that and get the journal out, I’ve usually forgotten most of it anyway.

        • kendokamel

          It might take a bit of practice, but eventually your brain will kind of train itself to remember for just another second. (;

          I my notebook and pen stashed under my bed. While it was a lot easier to access when I slept on a futon and not an antique bedframe (holy huge difference in height to the floor, Batman! o_O ), I can still just kind of groggily reach down and grab it with one hand while fumbling for my glasses with the other.

          I considered using my mini tape recorder, once, but realized that that took more thought to verbalize my thoughts than to scribble them.

  2. ratmmjess

    If you can find some Jan Svankmajer to watch, maybe? I find his work dream-like.

  3. danimagus

    I would suggest, in addition to the above excellent advice, roleplaying. Ever since I played Claviskin, especially in the later stages of his senility, I noticed that my own thought process out-of-character, was increasingly non sequitur in nature.

    So, first, I’d suggest you get meta and watch the way that you’re thinking. Then you can perhaps adjust the direction of your thoughts in a more absurd direction quite consciously. But second, I would definitely suggest playing Tiresias, or someone like him. Consider coming to DA Vampire and playing a Malkavian version of the fellow. Then, you’ve only to talk to my dear character Laurent for a few hours to have your stream of consciousness diverted.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’m definitely the LARPy sort of writer who will get up and act out various things to get them straight in my head, but alas, I don’t think playing Tiresias in DAV would work out; the context would just be too different.

      • danimagus

        Oh, certainly, the contexts are totally different, but the essential madness that you’re trying to learn to narrate could be the same. (ie, playing a “madwoman” from Laurent’s asylum who was abducted by the Fae)

  4. thespisgeoff

    Eek. Don’t go all Brando on us – you don’t need to “experience” madness in order to “get” it. This is going to come from an actor’s perspective, how I’d go about creating the character of Tiresias if I were playing him.

    I’d define what you mean by “dream-like madness.” Find some specific differences between “normal” thinking and Tiresias’ thinking – is he hyper-associative? Does he have issues with scale, his time in the faery kingdom keeping him from trusting his own sense of horizon, so that the castle in the distance is the same size as the elm sapling in front of him? Does he lose himself in time, not able to link cause and effect? Is his madness inwardly or outwardly-expressed? Does he lose himself in his own thoughts and dreams, go somewhere else, or does his dreamworld express itself through and on top of the real world?

    Find the specifics, play (or in this case “write”) the specifics,and you’ll have created a character whole into himself – whether he fits into a standar, real-life “dreamer” doesn’t matter as much as his internal consistency.

    …and wow, that got preachy/teachy.

    • Marie Brennan

      Don’t worry; the desire to “go crazy” is in that post for rhetorical interest, not because I actually want to go crazy. 🙂 I just want to get into a headspace where I can understand that behavior, which I don’t really right now.

      I’ll see if I can’t nail down better the specific ways in which he’s disconnected from reality, though.

  5. akashiver

    I’d recommend free associating. I tend to free associate as I write but you could also just generate lists of noun and adjectives and then go back and work them into a scene. The more synesthesia (sp) the better.

    • Marie Brennan

      I don’t tend to have a free-associative brain, alas. But synaesthesia might be an interesting touch to pursue . . . it wouldn’t really work for the scenes that aren’t in his pov, but it could lend something really interesting to the ones that are.

  6. diatryma

    I have a few very vivid childhood memories/dreams. Why do I link them? Because for years, I thought they were just weeeeird memories, but in retrospect, that is irrational. I was a very spacey child to begin with, often wondering what was going on even if I was taking part in it, and what dreams I remembered were very strong.
    I don’t know about proper state of mind, but think of some of your earliest memories and how you’ve remembered them over the years. And some of your earliest dreams– are you like me, having a bit of confusion over what happened in what context? A sufficiently boring dream *now* will get me like that; I’ll dream I’ve done laundry– not dream of doing it, but dream it’s done– and then wonder why I don’t have any shirts.

    As far as dreamwriting goes, my dreams are filled with context– I don’t see a dog, I see *the* dog, the specific dog with a history and possibly a name. I know the backstory, but it’s sufficiently complicated that I can’t recount it to anyone else.

    For the right state of mind, I’d try some different bits of consciousness– do you hypnotize easily? Maybe that would do something, but I don’t know. Once you have the scriggly brain running along, perhaps have someone else change things around. Little things, big things– switch the bed around, or the sheets. Move the silverware drawer to the fridge so when you look for ice cream spoons, put a goldfish in the bathtub, switch a doorknob for a doorhandle. Tiresias is a seer; his world is not as fixed as ours. If you want to construct his, you have to put in a degree of absurdity.

    • Marie Brennan

      Maybe it’s connected, but I don’t tend to remember much of early childhood any more than I tend to remember my dreams.

      • diatryma

        And early childhood actually *happened*. I don’t know if anyone else has trouble sorting out happened from imagined, but if even some of his memory is all in the shady-long-ago-dreams regardless of origin, it’d be quite confusing.

        • diatryma

          Also? Totally stealing this if I ever get that particular project running again.

          • diatryma

            Sorry, you’ve given me Ideas. I knew ‘stealing’ wasn’t the right word, but since I’m technically supposed to be working and dealing with the stress of everything, rather than talking to much more interesting people, I did not pause to find the better phrase.

  7. wishwords

    Which ever method you use, I recommend using a tape recorder for your babbling rather than trying to write it down or remember it when you are coherent enough to write.

    Sleep deprivation and wired friends sounds like a real good bet, especially if your friends are willing to talk about existetial (sp?) stuff.

    Or just spend a couple hours with my ADHD husband when he is high. No really, just sit back and try to keep up.

    • Marie Brennan

      Friends here, willing to talk about existential stuff at four in the morning? Nah. <g>

      (Actually, it would be harder these days, simply because so many of said friends are gainfully employed and can’t afford to stay up that late.)

  8. laurelwen

    Watch the movie “Waking Life”. Srsly.

  9. novalis

    I find that I remember my dreams much more if I just laze in bed on a morning, drifting in and out of sleep. But the dreams tend to be a bit more narratively coherent that way.

    Also, yet another vote for the journal — I kept one for several years, and it really did help me remember things.

    The consistent patterns I noticed in my dreams were:
    1. Entrances and exits were rare. People were just there or not.
    2. People, places, and things were often composites of existing real (or fictional) things.
    3. Things never seem to work right in dreams. Machines are broken, nobody will listen, I can’t find anything, etc.
    4. Whatever I’ve been reading lately will get inside my dreams. What has Tiresias been reading?

  10. prosewitch

    I agree with the sleep dep recommendations; I’ve actually started hallucinating under sleep dep conditions while at conventions and conferences. 😀

    Which leads me to suggest collecting some personal experience narratives from people you know who might be willing to share some of their stories of being in “crazy” states–altered states, sleep dep, ecstatic trance, what have you. You might turn up some intriguing notions or compelling details to inspire or include in your writing. I guess that endeavor would depend on everyone’s comfort levels, though.

    Finally, if you wanted to try to put yourself in some freaky situations (dark lighting, spooky noises) and then start to wonder about whether you saw something moving out of the corner of your eye… and then apply that mindset to everything. How can you be sure the inaminate objects around you aren’t blurring in and out of motion? Do 2D patterns rotate on their surfaces? Are the letters on your keyboard rearranging themselves even now? And so on.

  11. spartezda

    Huh. For me, my mind in sleep dep isn’t anything like my mind in dreams; sleep dep gets me focused on the real physical world and body sensations, not wandering into skewed mental landscapes.

    One feature very consistent in my dreams, at least, is that I am in the dream, that is, I am not aware it is a dream while I’m dreaming it, but part of me always watches the goings-on with detachment. Part of my mind is running desperately from velociraptors, part of my mind is watching with mild interest. Sometimes, in less action-thriller dreams, all I feel is the detached interest. Stuff is happening, I watch it; sometimes I know backstory about it, like that the quiet curly-haired kid standing with the school group will grow up to be the Dark Lord and is connected with the sinister house over there. Except “there” has no meaning in terms of physical distance. It’s just there.

    The “just there” is very important, for me, in trying to define what dreams feel like. No matter all the weird stuff going on, the things that make me wonder, “What was my brain smoking?” when I wake up, they’re never remarkable in the dream. They’re just there. I flee velociraptors through a house of pink (not a pink house–a house made of the color pink), and that’s just the way it is. It’s there. The messianic chestnut stallion leads the mustang band to freedom, sacrificing his own life to do so. It’s happening, and I watch. I don’t wonder why. It just is. Even when I personally am doing something, it’s just what I’m doing.

    I think you’ve definitely got something with the losing “any sense of when events are taking place.” A good addition might be losing any sense of where things are taking place. Real physical distance is a slippery notion in my dream-space; more important is relative distance, which is how closely things are connected to one another, like the Dark-Lord-kid/sinister house example I used above.

    Er . . . I hope that all came out coherently.

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