book cover2Here’s an ugly thought:  as per the beginning of every new year, IBM recently came up with a list of (5) technological advancements that will be worth watching in 2017.  Along with disease tracking technology and personal x-ray vision (yo quiero mucho) was this:  determining mental illness through language.

As Austin Powers would say, “Yeah baby!”  Roughly one in (15) people worldwide is estimated to have some sort of mental illness, much of which is undiagnosed.  Researchers  think that artificial intelligence may soon be able to parse our speech and writing patterns to figure out which of us could use an occasional Xanax bar.

Which is a fascinating concept; not just as an analytical tool with real-world goodliness, but also to find out if writers truly are, to put it bluntly, ‘nutty in the filbert.’  You know what I mean . . . as authors (especially in the crime genres) how do we come up with all the nasty we write about without wondering if we were dropped on our heads a few times?  All of the eviscerations, amputations, decapitations, blood-splattering, eye-gouging, gunshots, explosions, etcetera?  I remember an interview on Terry Gross’s show Fresh Air where author Ayelet Waldman (wife of Michael Chabon) laughingly mentioned the horrible deaths she imagined upon the various parents at her kids’ soccer matches.  You know you’ve done the same (I certainly have).  Standing in line at the grocery.  At the gas pump.  In the shower.  At office meetings.

And just think about your favorite authors.  You want to analyze Stephen King’s latest?  How ‘bout Kathy Reichs?  Dean Koontz?  Sue Grafton?  I’m willing to bet that one in fifteen ratio starts approaching even odds, right quick.  Flip a quarter; heads, Hilary Mantel is a sweet, elfin personality who makes strawberry scones in her spare time.  Tails, she has a kitten’s head in her purse.

Point being, who cares?  If you think like this, you’re one of us.  You’re not alone.  So put those thoughts to good use and write something.  Make a story out of it.  Or a script.  A novella, or even the big kahuna; a full-fledged novel.  But don’t think for one nanosecond that something’s wrong.  On the contrary:  you’re muy bien.  Keep writing.

Patrick Stuart

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