Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Writer Brain

Recently I went on a walk in the woods with some friends. These were some of my higher maintenance friends. Normally I let them choose what we do, because they are more difficult to please than I am, but I thought a walk in the woods was something we could all enjoy together. They thought it sounded nice, too. So, off we went.

It was a beautiful early summer day, not too hot, and the light through the trees was gorgeous and made the leaves glow.

It didn't work out that well. The friends seemed to want to tramp through the path as quickly as possible, as if the goal was to win a race. I felt breathless, trying to keep up and, at the end of the walk, didn't feel the sort of soul-refreshment that an afternoon in the woods normally brings. They seemed fine, but I was grumpy. I couldn't figure out what was wrong.

I think I've got it now. We just don't think the same way. I have writer brain.

It's a disconnect I've run across a lot in social situations. At first I thought it was the introvert/extrovert dichotomy. I definitely skew towards introverted. I'm sensitive to noise and light and atmosphere. Setting matters as much as content. I don't like loud or crowded or busy scenarios. I can deal with them if I must, but I would never seek them out. I'm not a cocktail party girl. I'm a quiet conversation and soft music girl. I would rather spend time with one or two friends, then with ten.

But it's more than just that. I am also nearly never bored. I'm a person who can become absorbed in a pattern of light on the floorboards, or the sound of cicadas singing love songs in the night. If there's nothing there that drops entertainment in my lap, I find it in my own musings and imagination. When I watch people, I'm making up stories, backgrounds and what-ifs for what I see. In fact, I often miss the details on the surface. Not being able to remember the color of the shirt of my companion or where I parked the car is common for me. That's not where my mind was.

My friends, on the other hand, when they tell me stories about their doings and goings, tell me all about those details. How someone wore her hair. What kind of car they're going to get. Who was there and what they said. When they take a walk, they tell me how long the walk was. They like parties and seek out popular events full of boisterous people. They bore easily, getting rid of things and buying new things, changing homes and jobs at what seems like a dizzying pace to me.

Their focus is just in a very different place than mine. So far as I can tell, my friends are the normal ones. I'm the one whose brain works on its own wavelength.

I have writer brain.

It's not always a good thing. It makes me distractible. It means I overthink things that ought to be simple. I can see too many possible roads and want to think my way down all of them. It means I forget details like my neighbor's name, even when I've met her twenty times (though I can tell you all about her habit of stopping and staring up at the moon on starless nights as if she were hypnotized, or that her dog pulls to the right when he walks as if he were a minivan out of alignment).

But I wouldn't trade it. I like the world through this filter of stories, unexpected connections between disparate things and wild goose chases down rabbit holes. I'm happy here in my little dream world. Please don't wake me.


  1. Really enjoyed this post, Samantha, and totally identified with it.

  2. Writers don't live in the moment. They live in the moment that they narrate to themselves. You are not alone.