Culture

10 Lies About Creative People

And I do mean alot

And I do mean ‘alot.’

Attention, the Creative Community: does this make any sense to you? One of my pet peeves on Facebook — and you may friend me there simply by looking up “David Kahane” and finding the avatar for Rules for Radical Conservatives — is this kind of list, which purports to impart wisdom but usually just makes your brain ache. Are “creative people” “easily bored”? Do they “think with their heart”? Do they “hate the rules”? No, no, and Hell No, says I.

As the author of six novels (with a new one on the way), one produced script and another heading into production, plus half a dozen sold scripts and four or five projects in various states of fruition (i.e., producer and director attachments), let me say as a member in good standing of the creative community that this list strikes me as better describing a civilian’s idea of “creativity.” For one thing, creative people are not easily bored. From conception through publication of my novel, And All the Saints (winner of the 2004 American Book Award and soon to be available in a spiffy new Kindle and other platforms e-edition), the time elapsed was seven full years. Seven years to think it up, internalize it, decide on the voice (first-person) and the tone, research it on location in New York City and Hot Springs, Ark., write it, get it edited, proofread the galleys and at last hold the finished book in my hand. Was I bored? Not a single time, never, to quote another famous resident of Hot Springs and, as it turned out, a protege of my narrator, the great Irish-American gangster Owney Madden. When the work is going well it’s not work, it’s fun.

Another false meme is that creative folks hate the rules. On the contrary, we love the rules. We internalize the rules. We master the rules. And we continue to love and use the rules even when we are breaking them — which of course we could not do had we not learned them well in the first place. Rules are not arbitrary edicts, but standards that evolve over time based on what works. Only amateurs break them without knowing them — and it shows. The creation of any work of art requires a knowledge of structure, which is why writers and other artists — such as architects — learn how to build from the ground up. They don’t think with their hearts, they think with their heads. After all, the heart can only beat when it’s encased in a solid structure first.

Even “work independently” is not quite right. True, the super-glamorous profession of novelist or screenwriter takes place for long stretches of time with the writer sitting alone in a small room, typing. But nothing exists in a vacuum: writers have agents and editors, screenwriters have agents and producers and directors and studio suits and a horde of other colleagues once the film is actually being made. We interact constantly and symbiotically, and benefit both emotionally and (some of the time, anyway) financially.

One thing that’s true: we do make lots of mistakes, with the bones of countless false starts, misdirections and even whole drafts buried in our back yards. And it’s also true that we change our mind(s) “alot.” A. Lot. We also learn how to spell. Meanwhile, back on the home front:

It's right in the DSM!

But it says so right there in the DSM!

A doctor has finally articulated an unutterable truth that somehow most of us knew already — that “ADHD” doesn’t really exist. You could have knocked me over with the latest edition of the bible of Viennese Voodoo, that always-evolving handbook of political correctness, the DSM, but here is Dr. Richard Saul writing in the pages of my alma mater, Time magazine and admitting that the emperor is mostly buck naked:

If someone finds it difficult to pay attention or feels somewhat hyperactive, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has those symptoms right there in its name. It’s an easy catchall phrase that saves time for doctors to boot. But can we really lump all these people together? What if there are other things causing people to feel distracted? I don’t deny that we, as a population, are more distracted today than we ever were before. And I don’t deny that some of these patients who are distracted and impulsive need help. What I do deny is the generally accepted definition of ADHD, which is long overdue for an update. In short, I’ve come to believe based on decades of treating patients that ADHD — as currently defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and as understood in the public imagination — does not exist.

The drugging of America’s rambunctious boys is one of the great crimes of the shrink community, who use drugs like hammers and every little male noggin a nail. Or perhaps I should say the “quack community,” since the brains behind the DSM have steadily moved their bag of tricks ever leftward, in conformance with socio-political developments. As for inventing a “disease” out of whole cloth, well, it’s all in a day’s work for a profession that considers the act of payment part of the treatment. What a racket!

Today, the fifth edition of the DSM only requires one to exhibit five of 18 possible symptoms to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. If you haven’t seen the list, look it up. It will probably bother you. How many of us can claim that we have difficulty with organization or a tendency to lose things; that we are frequently forgetful or distracted or fail to pay close attention to details? Under these subjective criteria, the entire U.S. population could potentially qualify. We’ve all had these moments, and in moderate amounts they’re a normal part of the human condition…. It’s time to rethink our understanding of this condition, offer more thorough diagnostic work and help people get the right treatment for attention deficit and hyperactivity.

Once you start to define the human condition itself as a pathology, as the Left does, here comes the cuckoo’s nest. And with the media as its delivery system — note how many times a day the New York Times, the voice of the Upper West Side, tosses around words like “traumatic” — the underlying assumptions of the quack community quickly become mainstreamed and normalized; no wonder everybody thinks everybody else is nuts. But once the work of the Left and the shrinks is completed, everyone will be judged insane — sane people most of all, for having put up with this transparent nonsense for more than a century. And then we can start all over — just don’t forget to pay on your way out the door. And no, we don’t take Obamacare.

Please mix it up in the comments below, where I’ll be joining you.

What, me eccentric?

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 Cross-posted from Unexamined Premises – visit for more comments