Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm Not (Just) Scatterbrained, I'm a Writer

Post by Jenny

I’m noticing lately that my body is acting a little older than my mind thinks it should. My knees sometimes hurt. My neck gets stiff. And hold the Rice Krispies, thanks; I hear enough snap, crackle, pop just rolling out of bed in the morning.

And then I wonder how many mental changes I’m experiencing, because I tend to be…what’s that word?…oh, yeah, forgetful. My sons know they’ll need to remind me more than once about important stuff like permission slips and saxophone reeds. My husband knows that if he asks me to bring him something from another part of the house, chances of me actually remembering to do it are about 1-in-3. Pretty good batting average, that, but dismal failure for many other things.

I joke about my short attention span, but the truth, I realized, is much cooler: more often than not, my distracted moments mean that my brain is busy writing. Even when my body is doing something else entirely—making dinner, painting my toenails, clambering toward the summit of Mt. Laundry Pile—my brain is engaged in writerly things. I might be composing a blog post, reworking a sentence six different times to find the best one, or following the thread of an intriguing first line that popped into my head—even if I know it won’t amount to more than a momentary diversion.

When I’m reading or watching a movie, I sift through dialogue and plot, mulling over what works, what doesn’t, what’s brilliant, what’s laughable.  When I’m walking the dog or sitting at a baseball game, I might think about how to describe the quality of the sunlight or the smell of whatever is rotting in the trashcan nearby. And, yes, I have to confess that I have spent a few idle moments wondering what it would feel like to be a bestselling author.

If I’m out with a friend for coffee, and we are discussing life and writing, family and friends, I listen fully and respond thoughtfully. But if talk turns to something lighter, say American Idol or Pinterest, a part of my mind will detach and start to wander…over to that exotic-looking woman in the corner, maybe, and start to work up a story about how she came to be sitting in a Starbucks at 10:30 on a Wednesday morning.

Does being a writer make you feel more distracted or more focused? Or both?


Patricia Stoltey said...

Hmmm. I was blaming aging for all those things. I'd much rather chalk it up to being a writer. Nice post, Jenny.

Anonymous said...

Love this!

Jerry Eckert said...

Very nice. Thoughtful. A great perspective.

Dean K Miller said...

I am more focused on being wait...I'm more distracted on being focused.

Whatever...I liked this post either way.

Lynn said...

I find that I pay more attention now to what's happening in the present moment, because it IS all material for my writing. I should have known this about myself much sooner, taking a clue from the way I listened to lectures in college: I doodled. It was the only way I could keep my squirmy brain from wandering. Seems that occupying part of my brain helps me focus. In the same way, gathering writerly insights during a conversation seems to help me stay with the speaker more fully.

Thanks for the post!

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