I’ve got writer brain: that fuzzy, deep-in-the-world-of-the-book existence where it’s sort of hard to remember real people’s names and where I’m supposed to be or what I’m supposed to do–unless it’s connected to the book. When I’m spending this much time in the story, it’s sometimes harder to connect to reality than to the stuff I can see in my creation. I was driving across town in really heavy, slow traffic, having just polished an action sequence, and realized… I’d stopped… in the middle of a busy intersection. No reason, other than the fact that I just had a thought about how to do something in the book and got distracted. Completely stupid, and I was lucky the oncoming traffic had to wait for the light to change and the guy in the first truck was patient. (For the record, I’m normally a great driver — years of being made to drive obstacle-course-type of situations by my dad, a champion driver, forced me to learn. However, no more driving for me while brainstorming.) I immediately turned around and went home, getting my unsafe self off the damned street.
It’s weird to think that there are people out there who don’t carry whole fictional worlds and sets of people (with complete interactive histories) around with them all of the time. Worlds that they are busy manipulating and orchestrating and controlling. That would be so… quiet… in my head. I’m not sure I’d know how to handle that much quiet.
Once, when our kids were little, I’d taken Jake (the youngest) to a mothers-day-out program so I could write. I was supposed to be there at 2:30 to pick him up. As I was writing, I got completely in the zone. It flowed, it worked, it rocked. I could ‘see’ the whole world in 3-D surrounding me; I was ‘in’ the moment. And the phone rang, this distant sort of jangling and I suppose I answered it (it was to my ear); a woman was asking, "Honey, are you going to pick up Jake?"
I swear to you, I scanned the page in front of me, looking at the names there, so immersed in that world, I asked, "Who’s Jake?" Because he sure as hell wasn’t on the page.
And she said, "Um… your son?"
I was two hours past due to pick him up.
The times I’ve called the kids by the wrong name are legion. (The standard joke around here was that if they walked in the room and there was a computer on, they’d instroduce themselves with, "Hey mom, it’s Luke." (or Jake) (there are only two of them) (I still got their names routinely wrong when I was writing.)
Please tell me I’m not the only one. What have you done that was absent-minded or nutty or a little crazy when you were so deep into writer-world (or so deep into a good book) that it had taken over your brain?