Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Writer's Life

        It's not easy being a writer. Oh sure, you say, writers just sit around all day drinking coffee and thinking of cool things to write. How hard is that?

        It's hard. Really hard. First of all, drinking all that coffee requires a lot of bathroom breaks. So I write half a sentence and then get up for a break. By the time I return, I've forgotten what I was going to write so I start over. That's why you'll see many writers only using very short sentences. Meanwhile this blank page is staring at me, taunting me to write something really cool.

        Pressure. There's lots of pressure in writing. And I don't mean just in the bladder. Think of the last time you read a book with  a really scary scene. Well, here I am, sipping on a latte trying to think of a scary scene to write. Not just the scene, but the right words to make you feel really scared.

        Finding the right words is a matter for our brains. But brains don't always cooperate. I know you've tried to think of something and couldn't: the name of a movie, the name of that guy you met ten minutes ago who's walking towards you right now and you need to introduce him to the person standing next to you, the names of your children; and your brain has locked it away so that you can barely see it, but not enough to remember it.

        What was that actor's name? I know it started with a "P." ...Peter?...No, not Peter...Phillip?...No, that's not it...Patrick?...Maybe it starts with a "R"...Yeah, I think so...Robert?...No...Say, Hon, what was the name of that actor we saw in the movie last night?

        "We didn't see a movie last night?"

        "What did we do last night?"

        "I can't remember either."

        "I think it started with 'B.'"

        Some brains are better at this than others. Some brains specialize. Names seems to be a favorite, but some lock away dates, or memories, or words. If you're a writer--it's words.

        What does your brain lock away? And how do you retrieve it? While you're trying to remember, I'll go get another cup of coffee.