Mining My Brain for Thoughts and Secrets

I’ve been awake for more than an hour and up for half an hour. And it’s only 4:30 a.m. This is not what I planned for Saturday. I planned, instead, to get up around 5:30, have a couple of cups of coffee, and ease gently into the day. The day includes another off-site breakfast, this time at a restaurant of my wife’s choice in Benton. Then, I’ll return home to do “chores” I have committed to complete. But here’s what’s really on my mind at this hour.

After our friends’ visit next week, I intend to get slim in body and healthy in attitude. And I will write. I will write with ferocity and conviction. I will dig up the corpses of characters I’ve conceived in months and years past and I will ask them to finish telling me what they wanted to say. And they will. They will tell me what they want; what they have always wanted but have been unable to attain. They will explain the obstacles to achieving their dreams and desires. I will explore these people like a detective examines a crime; every relevant bit of information will find its way into what I hope will be gripping tales, driven by character, not simply by plot. But this will involve asking and answering uncomfortable questions, questions that risk tearing away masks that hide secrets that want to remain hidden.

All that is for later, though. Today, upon our return from breakfast, I intend to finish painting the guest room. That task, one I thought would be quick and easy, has taken up far more energy and effort than I expected. The prep work, alone, took enormous time and a toll on my arthritic hands and bad knees. Blue tape protects the molding around doors and windows and contractor’s craft paper protects the floors. I painstakingly moved the furniture away from the walls to the center of the room, thinking that would make the job easier. I should have simply emptied the room of its contents; THAT would have made the job easier. But I didn’t, so I will file that bit of advice in my brain for the next project.

What else is on my mind at this quiet hour? Heat and humidity. Still, stagnant air and the way it tries to smother happiness. The fatal mistake that scorpions and snakes make by slipping into my garage at night. The absence from my refrigerator of cool, refreshing, sparkling mineral water right now, when I need it.

Those unrelated mind jags are what I mine from the depths of my brain at this moment. There are other thoughts spilling out, too. I wonder whether humans truly have the capacity to understand and accept their own mortality? Intellectually, yes, but can we comprehend the reality on an emotional level? And how is it that we can define what is and is not moral in so very different ways? Not just culture to culture, but person to person. And a news item I heard on NPR yesterday is on my mind: it reported that the National Institutes of Health had lifted a moratorium on research that would explore the creation of embryos that are part human, part animal. I find such an endeavor both fascinating and frightening; actually, it is what triggered my questions about the moving target that is morality.

And, finally, my mind is circling around the concept that I can choose at any time to change who and what I am. The future rests not so much on the past, but on the present. That’s a hopeful thought and one I choose to embrace, now that the digits on the electronic device that measures time have edged past five o’clock.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Mining My Brain for Thoughts and Secrets

  1. Thanks for your comment, Pauline. My suggestion to you is to assign distinct times to your writing; one for fiction, one for the autobiography. Leave the concern about bragging behind you! People can tell the difference between sincerity and braggadocio, and they will know the real, authentic you in your writing.

    Our writers’ group doesn’t seem to have many people who are sufficiently invested in writing to hold one another accountable; but I like the idea and know of a group of romance writers that do that.

    I like the menu idea; I’ll use it. A Facebook friend, a French attorney and writer living in California with her American husband, incorporates recipes and menus in her writing. Intriguing.

    I’d be interested in the video links, but I have to say I’m always more than a little skeptical of supplements; but I’m open to changing my mind. 😉

  2. I see i should have edited my message before I posted it. That’s “maybe you could throw in some eye of a newt and hair of a frog into some of the recipes just to add to the suspense…”

  3. John, I’m awake, too. However have barely had a couple of hours sleep before I woke up and lay there for far too long before I decided I’d get up and do something. I still want to get a couple of hours sleep before I face the day and my 9:00 am appointment.

    From the sound of your writing, I’m sure whatever you write will be a hit. All that dark is very popular today especially with the millennials, I understand.

    I haven’t written much lately. Need to get in a schedule and plan to write with regularity instead of when something hits me or when I’ve given myself a deadline to write.

    I continue to be torn between the fiction and the autobiography my husband thinks I should write. I’m pleased that he believes I have something to offer the women of today in that writing, but find it difficult to write about my experiences in a way that others can benefit from. Seems like bragging and I’ve never bragged well.

    Does your writers group hold you accountable. That is something that helps me. I make the commitment to them and I have to fulfill that commitment.

    I think the whatever you write you should include menus and recipes from the French Kangaroo. That is done now, especially in current romance novels. Maybe you could through the eye of newt and hair of the from into some of the recipes just to add to the suspense…

    Now time for an infommercial: I represent a company called Univera. Univera produces all natural health supplements that truly work on arthritic hands and other aches and pains. If you would like, I can email you some videos so you can see/hear more. The products are truly remarkable. The company is owned by a servant leader billionaire, with the vision of bringing the best of nature to humankind. I’m sold on the products, that’s why I sell them. Enough of that. It was not my intention to add this infomercial, but some of the comments you wrote about triggered it. There, now, I’m blaming it on you!

Please tell me how this post strikes you.