As a writer with bipolar disorder, I never know what my next book will be. They just happen. I am not a genre writer, and, in fact, my publisher told me that Swiss Chocolate defies any real category. That’s true with all three books I have written so far. For a writer, this is a gift and a curse.
Although my disease is well-managed and under control, I am still susceptible to mood swings. But I have so much pent-up emotion that when I hit my boiling point my emotions erupt from the depths of my soul like a violent volcano.
That’s when I sit down and write. I can go for days without sleep, and will write from the moment I wake up until I am just too exhausted to write another word. I become obsessed with my writing and won’t stop until I am satisfied with the ending. It’s hard to explain what goes on in my head when I am in that state of mind. Basically, I live only in my head, and pretty much tune out the rest of the world. In my my head it’s like watching a movie playing with vivid detail. I can actually see my characters in action and hear what they are saying. It’s almost like I did not create them at all; they just came alive in my head.
I am aware of a beginning, middle and an end, but the story writes itself. I don’t have to think about the words; they just come. You would think the story would be very disjointed and incohesive, but they are tight, well-focused, with a strong central theme. They come from somewhere deep in my psyche, and I am brutally hosest when I write. It is here where I fight my demons, and that’s what gives my stories the layers of intertwining, ovararching themes that portray my inner being and how I feel about myself, life and the people I love.
Being bipolar is a curse and a gift at the same time. When I am slightly manic, I can produce enormous amounts of work in a very short period of time, but when I start to go off the rails, it’s a feeling of being completely out of control, and, at times, it is downright painful. Like most people with bipolar disorder II, the less severe form of the disease, I hover on the manic side, and I do not take antidepressants, but when I swing into a deep depression, they are debilitating and can last for months at a time. This is a disease that is very hard to live with, and managing it requires a combination of the right medication, talk therapy and sheer attitude.
Love to you all!
James M. Weil