Should I Wear My Coat Or A Straight Jacket?

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.  ~E.L. Doctorow


Hi everyone.

My name is Stacey Purcell and I’ve recently joined the talented group of writers here at Muse Tracks. Since I’m introducing myself to you all and we’ll be spending some time together over the next few months, I thought it only fair to warn you that I’m just a bit crazy. Certifiably nuts, in fact. It’s even written in one of my favorite quotes about writing- see above. Fortunately for me, I’m in good company because every writer I meet is a little to the left of center.

We are crazy on many different levels. We live with people who only exist in our minds. During the writing of a book they are, most likely, our BFFs. How do we repay these mythical creatures? We change their color of hair, their eyes, and even their weight based on how we feel or how many hours straight we’ve been sitting at a computer. Some loyalty! I’ve been working on my first novel for two years and I’ve done something worse. Even though I created my heroine, by chapter nineteen I forgot what her eye and hair color were- that wouldn’t be so bad if kept it to myself.

But, I don’t. So not only do we live with morphing people running around in our heads, we then have the audacity to show them to normal humans. We proudly strut them out to critique partners/groups, friends, and family. What are we thinking? Obviously we’re not, because we then spread our form of insanity to a wider span of folks.  A perfect group of strangers called agents and editors is our next stop on the schizophrenia train.

At this point, we are chugging down the tracks at full speed. We practice our speeches, give them technical terms like pitches, character arc, theme and motifs and spew our brand of insanity all over these unsuspecting strangers. What do they do? They are polite and well mannered. They say thanks, but no thanks. What do we do? Go home, turn on our computer and sink into the next set of imaginary creatures floating around behind our civilized facade. So goes the life of a writer. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now that you know my foibles up front, I’ll tell you about the rest of me. I write romantic thrillers that take place in foreign countries. My first is set predominantly in the rain forest of Malaysia and the second unfolds in a tropical paradise called Costa Rica.

I was fortunate enough to be able to live abroad until my mother dropped me off at university in New Orleans. Venezuela, Norway, Malaysia and Singapore are the countries of my childhood, but Malaysia will always be the home of my heart. I spent eighteen years in South East Asia and I’d be on the next airplane out if my husband and I could figure out how to pay the bills over there. Instead, I am here chatting with you. And that makes my spirit smile.

41 Responses to Should I Wear My Coat Or A Straight Jacket?

  1. Tess says:

    Congrats on your new blogspot, Stacey!!!

  2. Kathryn says:

    This is great! 🙂 As an avid TV watcher I could definitely relate to becoming “BFFs” with a character! Congrats on the blog!

  3. Thanks Tess! I have to say, it’s more nerve wracking than I thought it would be! I appreciate the encouragement.

  4. Hey Kathryn!
    I knew you would relate to this article! You live for those One Tree Hill episodes. It’s almost sad when the story ends because it ends your relationship with the characters you love. See you soon Kit Kat!

  5. Thank you for your post, Stacey; and for becoming a regular contributor to MUSETRACKS.

    In the words of that great behavioral psychologist Waylon Jennings: “I’ve always been crazy, but it’s kept me from going insane.” Likewise, creative writing and other forms of artistic expression might well be manifestations of craziness on a superficial level that help keep us in touch with reality on a deeper level. And by “us”, I mean both writers and readers.

    BTW, I too spent much of my formative years abroad. I spent three years in one of the countries you listed, Venezuela.

    We’re looking forward to more of your posts.

  6. William says:

    Stacey, you’re doing great! Relax…:) And remember:

    “Now I get paid for doing what used to get me into trouble: staring into space and playing with my imaginary friends.” Jonathan Kellerman, author of the “Alex Delaware” mysteries.

  7. Susan Muller says:

    You make us smile also. Keep it up. We all need a little crazyness to get us through the day.

  8. jbrayweber says:

    YAY, Stacey!!!
    We’re so thrilled to have you on MuseTracks! Would you like to borrow my be-dazzled straight jacket? It’s preeeetttyyy!!!!

  9. Melissa says:

    Yeah! You did great, Stacey!! Congratulations on your newest writing gig. I look forward to reading more!! 🙂 And I’m not answering your question cause your right! We’d have to order a whole lot of those straight jacket thingys. LOL

  10. Thanks for chiming in Mary Anne! When did you live in Venezuela- I wonder if we ever crossed paths??
    So–maybe this is my venue to keep from going insane. Who knows? If it is, then so be it. I’m having too much fun with all my friends on and off the page to really be worried about the whole question of sanity.

  11. Hey Sweet William- Thanks for stopping in and giving support. I really do hope that I will get paid one day for letting my imagination run wild. I couldn’t do it without my friends who are always there for me.

  12. Susan, you get a healthy dose of craziness every time Jenn and I get up to lead a meeting at NWHRWA! You should be used to the shenanigans we come up with- I glad to know this made you smile as well! Wait until you see my next 2 installments on research. You won’t believe the ideas I have on the subject. 🙂

  13. Hi Jenn- Waving from my office down the road from yours! How come you didn’t show me your bedazzled jacket?? I could wear that to the next fund-raising dinner I go to…but I better be careful, they may pay to get rid of me! I bet it is preeeeeetttyyy.

  14. Hey Missy, since we’re planning on getting a group of writers together for a fun run, why don’t you design the jackets and we can wear them as our team uniform??? Make sure they have some of Jenn’s bedazzles sprinkled on them. Thanks for saying “Hi” today! Hugs to the coolest author I know!

  15. LMWilson says:

    Congratulations, Mrs. P! Love the new blog. You and all of your BFFs are welcome at our home any time!

  16. laprincessekay says:

    Staaaaacceeey! You ROCK! Looking forward to the next post. Bonjour all the way from Paris!! Kay 🙂

  17. Nina Cordoba says:

    Hey Stacey!
    I forget character’s names, descriptions all the time. I once realized I’d used the same name for two people and one dog in the same novel. In my defense, I’m super auditory and tactile, not visual.

    Oh, if you ladies are making clothes we’ll have to wear, just remember to make mine in purple or pink.

    Wait, did you just say Missy was the coolest author you know???

  18. Thanks so much Mrs. S-W!! We are a rather large group to fit into your house. HAHAHA I’m not sure Foley and the kitties would approve of your choice of riff raff strolling about their territory!

  19. Bonjour La Princesse Kay! Or if you are from Texas- Howdy!
    How’s Paris treating the pretty English Rose? Don’t let any of those french men break your heart…it is the city of love after all! I’m so glad you stopped by- I think of you so often. Au revoir

  20. Well Nina, you’re not the only one that repeats names. I discovered my bad guy and my heroine’s best friend had the same name…it only took me 248 pages before I realized that tidbit! Hence, the new tool in my arsenal is to read aloud to myself. I catch mistakes like that so much quicker than if I read it silently! Welcome to Muse Tracks, Ms. Nina.

  21. Kate says:

    Love the idea of a schizophrenia train. What better for someone engineering the lives of heroes, villains, and antagonistic hero-heroine couples through one disaster after another? And something that’s always stuck in my head from a novel (the ground of absolute truth): the oddest thing of all would be to absolutely, perfectly normal. Fortunately, writers don’t risk that fate.

  22. Candi Wall says:


    Welcome, welcome! So excited to have you with us at Musetracks.

    And I love that you’re at least somewhat certifiable. Just means you’ll fit in the rubber room just fine with the rest of us.

    Now pass the pillow-sized boxing gloves.

    Looking forward to having you on board.

  23. Bethany says:


    Loved your post. I grinned while reading it and chuckled. I have to write notes for characters and things like that because I forget…then I find out I wrote a note for everything BUT the thing I most needed a note on LOL.

    If “normal” means not being a writer, count me out! I don’t think I could give up writing anymore than I could give up breathing.

  24. Well said, Kate! BTW, hello to you up in the great white north! Is the snow still hanging on?
    Writers never risk the fate of being perfectly normal because we create our own “normal”! Aren’t we lucky? If I don’t like today, I can re-write it tomorrow. Sigh. Wish we had those powers off the page!

  25. Thanks for the warm welcome, Candi! I’m so excited to be here with you all. I feel like I know you through Jenn and reading your posts and watching your videos over at Pitch University.
    A virtual rubber room, huh? Hmmmmmmm…..what have I gotten myself into?

  26. I love your last paragraph, Bethany! I don’t think I could give up writing anymore either.
    Even when I’m lost in the doldrums and can’t find my mojo, I think about my stories and characters all the time. Like I said before, they become my BFFs. These guys are way more convenient than real people because I can carry them around with me all the time…and they never have to stop to go to the bathroom!

  27. Elizabeth Simmons says:

    Welcome to BLOGWORLD. You’ll be wearing that strait jacket in no time. In my first mystery novel, I killed off a guy in chapter 8, then in chapter 14 I had him riding his horse. I went back and buried him before the story became a paranormal. Congratulations on your post. It certainly hits home for me.

  28. Nice to meet you! I love the ladies here at Musetracks, so I hope to get to know you too.

    And always wear the straight-jacket. It brings out the color of your eyes.

  29. Candi says:


    PitchU pitch pal! That was super nerve wracking fun wasn’t it?

    When I heard you were coming on board I was so excited. I assumed she’d mentioned the rubber room…

  30. Candi says:

    Susan’s a PitchU pal too!

  31. Adam Waggoner says:

    Whichever coat you wear, you make it look good. Even Peter would agree. How you feel when wearing clothes is conveyed to those around you. Example: If my coat has a hole in it but I convey the contrary, those who see me expect what I expect even if they initially see the hole. i.e. Whichever coat, (or blog), you wear, your expectations make it look good. – I Like the blog.

  32. Diane Holmes says:

    LOL, Pitch U Pitch Pal. I was thinking of naming us Pitch Geeks. 😉

    Hello to all the Pitch U writers, Air Kisses to all the MuseTracks Writer-Babes/Hunks, and a royal wave to the loveliest maiden of them all… Queen Stacey.

    MuseTracks is SO lucky to have her aboard. She is many people (in that writerly, crazy way), and every one of them good.

  33. Hey Elizabeth- If you decide to make your story into a paranormal, I’m sure Lo would help you with all the finer points! I still say we need to design jackets with some kind of cute logo for all of us! How many people can say I killed him and then he rode a horse???

  34. Waving to Adam in Missouri!!!!! Thanks for stopping by to put your two cents in. 🙂 I’m glad you like the blog. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Your body language and how you present yourself will be the key as to how folks will view you beyond all the superficial stuff. Wise words.

  35. Well, it seems we have a few Pitch U Pitch Pals lurking about over here. I told you it was a terrific site to set up and you are doing a great job, Diane. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a wonderful place for writers to get expert advice and many chances to pitch to agents and editors while receiving feedback on their efforts. Check it out at
    Thanks for the luscious compliment…I like thinking that I still qualify for being a maiden and I certainly like being queen!!

  36. You so assumed wrong, Candi!! Jenn didn’t mention one darned thing about the rubber room! Now I’m here and there’s no going back. Almost like Hotel California…

  37. Bethany says:


    Good point about characters never needing the restroom. Weird how that works LOL Talk about super powers 🙂

  38. I don’t gloss over those things. I’m mean to my characters. I’ve given them them the runs, had my heroine’s Aunt Flow come to visit while making out with the hero…

  39. The worse we treat our characters in the long run, the better the story. It seems you’ve discovered that, Saranna! Wow- the runs…can’t say any of my guys have had that happen yet…but I just may steal that idea for my next book! Thanks for posting.

  40. Lorin O says:

    Awesome post, Stacey! I look forward to reading more from you and am happy to add Musetracks to my reads.

    My feeling is that anything worth feeling passionate about is likely to engender both madness AND sanity, and, like you, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  41. Suzanne says:

    Hi Stacey,

    Thanks for sharing your blog with me. I REALLY enjoyed reading it…as I enjoy reading all your writings.


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