It was an ugly room, very feng-shui with the white walls and the depressed potted plants. On the floor there was a colorful carpet and a cheap made-in-China speaker creaked out something that must have been a new age tune. I remember three chairs and a ridiculous amount of pillows. I sat down on one of the chairs. I sighed. She tilted her head and looked at me. "So, what are you here for?" I had no idea. Anger, frustration, the feeling of being stuck in a rut. Nothing was wrong with me, I guessed, just another disgruntled citizen feeling like a failure. I ended up narrating some stories from my life. My first memory. My first toy. My inability to properly finish a project. And then, out of thin air, she hit the hammer.
"You are a creative generalist."
I frowned, mostly because I don't like people telling me what I am. Then she explained it. She told me about my brain, which constantly comes up with new ideas, schemes and fantasies. All this in sheer contrast with my mouth, which usually prefers to be quiet. She also said that it would probably never stop, unless I got hooked on Xanax or Aderall or whatever mind-numbing is fashionable. For a few moments, I thought about it. I'll admit that. There have been times when I just wanted to take that pill and go absolutely blank for a few hours. I never have. They scare me. I prefer a constantly raging mind over a prescription drug anytime. So I asked what I should do. Her advice was the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
"Write a book about it."
I wrote my debut novel in a raging tempo. I was focused like never before. This was so me, everything went perfectly. Well, almost perfectly. There was still a lot to be learned about editing and publishing books. Mistakes had been made but the result was something to be proud of. 80.000 words, the longest thing I have ever written. Up until then, I had written short stories, poems and a whole bunch of music reviews, but this was something else. 'Cecilia's World' had become a unique piece of work: a novel about music. Errors or not, I was pretty damn proud of myself. After all, I did something I had never been truly able to: finish a lengthy project.
Then her voice came back. "Write a book about..."
"...psychokinesis," and off I went again. Inspired by Carrie, Matilda, Mr. Robot and the Zeitgeist movies, I started assaulting a brand new keyboard. Six monthly chapters, 120.000 words. An elaborate blueprint with room for improvisation. A massive soundtrack. Videos. Dubbed 'I Do Not Want This', the new book easily surpassed 'Cecilia's World'. That is, until I reached the 70.000 words mark. I froze. Words stopped flowing. I had been writing for months. Two, three, four, five hours per day. In between I contacted musicians and test readers. Suddenly however, all was blank, except for her words.
"Will you finally start writing that book about creative generalism?"
I started taking longer breaks in between writing sessions. I got reacquainted with SimCity and Time Team. I rediscovered the fine art of postponement. Yes, I felt guilty about it but not for long. A new story started blooming and I managed to postpone that one like a professional. I know now, time is on my side. I know that 'I Do Not Want This' will continue .
But her voice. Her sharp, stinging voice. It felt like fingernails on a blackboard. And then it dawned on me. "Hey, I'm a creative generalist. I can write different stories simultaneously," and here we are. I compromised, decided to start a blog about it and publish it here at Merchants Of Air.
Maybe she will read this. If so, I guess she'll be offended by my words once in a while. I will complain and nag about the uselessness of therapists and the money-grabbing business of psychological healthcare. That's what I do: use my writing skills to kick and claw and bite everything I think is unjust. Yet, maybe she will find some interesting anecdotes or even tips for her patients. I'm definitely not the only creative generalist on this blue globe but by now, I am an experienced one. I can hold on to an idea until the right moment. I can finish a project. I can outsource, cooperate and seek advice. My brain is still rumbling like a madman but I managed to install imaginary resistors which slow down and organize the ideas.
And who knows, maybe it can help you, too. Maybe you recognize the stories about brains rumbling like volcanoes. Perhaps you, too, are one of those people who love to write songs, paint landscapes, build ships in a bottle and cook the greatest lasagna in history, all before breakfast. If so, I have bad news for you. You are a creative generalist. You can't help it. There's no way out. You have to create. The good news is: it's not a disease, merely a brain working overtime. Once you realize that, you will never, ever get bored again.