Friday, February 20, 2009

You Might Be a Writer If...

It's been a long week . So long, I said to my husband yesterday, "Oh, President's Day. Wasn't that two weeks ago?"

Not quite. It was Monday.

Which really brought home another of those odd habits we writers tend to pick up when we're in the thick of a story - forgetfulness.

You might be a writer forget everything.

I should qualify that. By everything, I mean everything about the real world. Things such as President's Day and when exactly that was. Whether you've eaten. If you've done the laundry. Pretty benign examples, you say? Ah, but I'm only just beginning.

I suffer so badly from this type of forgetfulness, I've given it my own label - Author Amnesia. I've studied its habits too.

Author Amnesia is worst when I'm revising. I think it's the whole living in two worlds at once thing that throws my brain. Living in one world is hard enough, but to create a second one and then populate it with self-made characters, well, unless my brain decides to finally open up that extra 90% we supposedly don't use, I'm doomed.

Here is a typical day in the life of me with Author Amnesia. I'm pretty good at getting up, and knowing where I am - although that doesn't always happen - but let's say today is a good day and I do. It's all goes downhill from there. I go out for a run, with my dog. That's when the alternative universe of my book starts to invade. Mulligan and I run along, thoughts about the story come into my head, story problems rear their ugly heads, characters begin filling my thoughts with all kinds of ideas as to how to solve those problems. For as quiet as it is at 6 in the morning, I feel like I'm running with that pack of Verizon people from teh ads all talking at once.

Result: I forget how many laps I've run.

My dog and I have come up with a way to deal with this. I switch which side of the road we are on and which hand I'm holding the leash in. It usually lets me know how many laps I've run. Problem averted.

The whole showering and getting the kids off to carpool for school usually goes well. It's enough stimulus to keep my imaginary friends at bay, until I walk into the office. Yeesh. That's when it really starts. My office desk is cluttered with lists. It's like all those strings people used to tie on their fingers. Those are my lists. They have words. They tell me to do things. Those things, though, usually require me to turn on the computer. And then, oi vey, Katie bar the door. Once that computer screen springs to life, all bets are off. Alternative universe is bursting with life.

I've finally gone to setting the alarm on my phone to remind me it's 2:50. Why is that important? Forget eating, bathroom breaks, any of that other mundane stuff. At 2:50, I've got to pick the kids up from school. And I'm carpool leader afternoons. I must get out of the house at all costs.

This usually means dropping my story-thought mid-sentence and racing out the door. The drive is about 20 minutes. You'd think it would be, easy, right? Drive to school. However, this is where the real trouble starts. My alternative universe usually hurries after me, out the door, into the car, and then makes itself at home in the empty, I-ferry-5-kids-home-every-day-after-school car. I'm helpless, devoid of computer or even trusty pen to fend them off.

The story balloons up. I'm off, chasing sheep, diving underwater, working on a tricky passage of text, all in my head. It's...distracting. Now, mind you, I keep my eyes on the road, I obey all traffic regulations. I'm not that far gone. However, I have, many a time, looked out at the road in front of me and realized suddenly, I'm at school. Huh.

And all those errands I was supposed to take care of the way - videos that needed to be taken back? Mail to the post office? All still sitting on the passenger seat of the car. I'd like to say that once the kids are on board, my mind in on the busy day they've had. It is, but my imaginary characters are a jealous lot. The vie for time. I feel like the child in the movie, "The Last Mimzy", who has her heard stuck in a bubble looking in on another world and watching what's going on. She tries to pull her head back out, but it's so hard. I get a lot of: Mom?....Mom?....Mom? Did you hear what I said?

Gees, will my kids ever know when I really am suffering from forgetfulness, or will they have me committed as soon as they are legal? Worse still, will they take my computer away????


adrienne said...

Oh, this all sounds too familiar. I'm glad I'm not the only one :)
I set the timer on the microwave so I don't forget to pick up the kids.

PJ Hoover said...

Isn't the passenger seat built to hold errands?
Have a great weekend, and forget all your forgetfulness worries!

Rena said...

I remember having those days where I had to run back and forth to get the kids. Now we homeschool, so I'm home most of the time. That's scary in itself because a lot of times the boys & I will start discussing some story idea and go off on a tangent forgetting all about the work that needs to be done. :)

Stacy Nyikos said...

Oh, it is so good to be in the company of fellow authors. I feel, dare I say it, almost normal!