• S. E. Burr

On Obsession and Creativity

It’s been a long time since my last blog post. I’m sorry. I can’t, however, promise to do better in the future.

I heard a story about a woman who had a brain surgery for an unrelated condition and it wiped out her creativity and her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They were both gone in a single moment, one a blessing, one a curse.

I’ve read two novels recently which I loved and which I highly recommend—Turtles All the Way Down and Grace and the Fever. They both deal with obsession, and I strongly related to them.

I go through weeks, months, years even, where most of the time I’m worrying about some ridiculous fear. The more stupid and embarrassing the phobia is, the more power it has to dominate my thoughts. When this happens, even without meaning to—actually completely against my will—I become profoundly self-centered, so focused inward on my own thoughts that I’m largely blind to what’s going on with the people around me. I’m not there for those I care about, not the way I want to be. John Green did an admirable job of addressing this self-centered aspect of obsession in Turtles All the Way Down. Also, when I’ve fallen deep into an obsession, I have a hard time sufficiently motivating myself to write or to pursue my other goals. Basically, the whole thing sucks.

So, I’m trying to find a solution, a prophylactic, or a vaccination (likely metaphorical,) to prevent me from going through these periods in the future. The mind is built through patterns of thought and behavior, and I’ve become convinced that it’s highly changeable. A friend of mine who’s also a doctor, said to me, “You know, if you succeed in what you’re trying to do, changing your entire personality, modeling yourself and your thought patterns after someone you see as more calm and unimaginative, you may get rid of these obsessions, but you likely won’t be able to write anymore.”

Damn! The writing’s kind of non-negotiable. So, the whole process is more nuanced and needs to be taken on with more care than I originally thought. Anyway, I’m still determined to find a solution, to find a way to write and also be happy and healthy. I’m glad to be writing another blog post, and hope to get back into the habit. It helps me to refine my thoughts, and also helps me to feel a little less alone in them.

BIG NEWS: The audiobook version of Goblin Fruit is available now, narrated by the very talented, Babs. You can get it for free with an Audible trial (or an Audible credit) here:

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