Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brain, Shut Up

"Well, Mike," says my brain to me approximately five minutes ago. "You've finished that book you were reading, you've done your dishes, it's all smooth sailing until it's time to hit the sack. You've done your part to make the day totally awesome, you've done your one-seven-billionth share of making the world not suck. Time for bed, unless you've forgotten anything."

"Self, you're the best brain ever. I'm glad I--BLOG ENTRY!"

Well, damn. Time to crank this bad boy out. Problem is, I really hate writing things late at night.

There's a few reasons I could cite for this. One, usually I'm pretty fried by this point. I've done all my writing first thing in the morning, starting right around ass-thirty o'clock before work (today's writing went well today, thank you very much for asking). By the time the day ends, my mental coffers are empty, stripped clean like a Chevy left overnight in the more interesting neighborhoods of Detroit. I crank the ignition that I'd like to imagine is wired directly to my cerebral cortex and it just rattles and dies.

Two, all my creative creativity not taken up by writing before work was taken up with the various banalities of the day. By the time bedtime rolls around, the only things I have strong opinions on are pillow texture and whether or not my neighbors actually are having a loud conversation with each other in fluent Wookie.

But most of all...and by this, I mean "three", if you were keeping track of my numbered points, I have a hard time turning my brain off when I'm in the writing mode.

My brain is constantly a seething mess of imaginary conversations. I'm always talking with someone. Arguments, explanations, discussions. When I write a blog entry, I'm not actually composing something per se, I'm turning the fire hose loose on paper.

This is a dangerous thing. First thing in the morning, or otherwise earlier in the day, I'll get to a point where I wrap and then I'll do something else. Go to work. Go for a run. Go outside. Talk to someone. Fight a stranger in the Alps. Whatever. Eventually the voices get back under control.

When I try to go to bed immediately after writing, I usually find I can't. The voices are too loud. I'll try to fall asleep, but suddenly my brain will decide to pick an imaginary fight with a version of a friend which doesn't really exist. Maybe it'll decide that I really want to start pretend-talking to that pretty girl at work about whatever bit of hobby-writing I'm doing right now. Mike-brain will suddenly unspool an elaborate fantasy wherein I tell H P Lovecraft how satellite technology is used to navigate freight across the ocean.

Sometimes, I've actually managed to talk myself into a pretty angry/hateful state because of these imagined conversations. Silly, I know. Much worse than having a fight with someone in a dream and waking up angry at them for what they dream-did to you. I am, ostensibly, in control of my inner conversations. Or I should be.

It's annoying.

One of the hardest things about and one of the most valuable goals of meditation, I've discovered, is finding new ways of crushing these voices on command. Sometimes these conversational loops head off into destructive territory, such as now, when it's kind of late at night and I know that going off on a mental tangent will destroy my sleep, no matter how benign the topic.

So you have a paradox, sort of, assuming you have very low standards for the sorts of things you might call paradoxes. I'm tired, I'm burnt out, but if I start banging away, I run a real risk of actually waking up and getting kind of wired. So I do bad writing, which may or may not get better as I clank away at the keyboard, and then receive insomnia as a reward.

Thank you, brain.

The novel actually is going pretty well this week. The chemistry between the characters is picking up, the story's going interesting places. No real mystery before I sit down to write a chapter about where said chapter is going. It's nice. Damn, I need to go the hell to sleep.

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