When we were little, I told my brother that dreams were actually movies shown by little guys in your head. I also told him that if he locked himself in the bathroom while we had a babysitter, candy would fall from the sky. He was deeply scarred by all of this: when he grew up, he became a lawyer.
But here’s the truth: there really are little guys in my head.
They’ve always been there, and there are actually two gangs of them. One gang is made up of voices I’ve heard in life, and those I’ve heard in the media (hi there, Spike!), and some of them were born right there in my skull. They tell me stories. Lately, for instance, I’ve heard quite a lot from a brave, ugly giant, as well as from a computer geek from Sacramento. I really like these guys, even the not-so-nice ones. You may have met some of them, such as the creepy wizard and the werewolf ex-boyfriend with control issues.
Unfortunately, there’s the other gang, too. I imagine they all look like Voldemort or Vezzini the Sicilian. And they only have one story to tell me: “You can’t.”
Now, for some reason I don’t quite understand, I’ve spent a lot of my life listening to the second gang. They’re pretty convincing. They convinced me I couldn’t write a novel, couldn’t get anything published, couldn’t drag my older kid to live for half a year in a country where we don’t speak the language.
It took me a long time, but fairly recently I’ve come to realize that the second gang is full of shit. I could do those things, and a lot more besides. Now, they’re still muttering, and sometimes I’m still listening. But now that I’ve learned to tell them to shut the fuck up, I’ve found that I can hear the first gang a whole lot better. I can hardly get their words down in print fast enough.
You know, listening to the voices in your head isn’t crazy—but listening to the wrong ones is just plain nuts.