Those Who Tell…and Those Who Don’t
Or maybe the title of this should be Those Who Remember and Those Who Don't.
I'm talking about writing, of course, and those who remember and tell every aspect of their current story while they are working on it. I had dinner with my screenwriting friend last night and he went back through every scene of every act of his current script which he is turning into a novel.
I'm in awe of this, because I can't remember a scene five chapters ago in my current novel. I take my work to my critique group and they start to talk about "when Riley said this" or "Emma Jean left the motel and went to the bookstore" and I'm drawing a complete blank. Same thing happens with my blog posts, too–someone will tell me they enjoyed my post and I'll ask, "What did I write about?"
I realize this makes me sound like a complete dim-wit, but I've heard other writers say the same thing and so I thought it worth exploring. I've heard writers say they'll be out on book tour, signing books, and a reader will comment on a specific scene to which the writer draws a complete blank. By this time, said writer is deep into the next book. The last one has been released onto the world. She's onto something new.
I console myself with these reports from other writers and also with the thought that its because I write so much and so many different things. Its not age, which is usually a worthy scapegoat, because this has been happening for a long time.
I suspect it may also have to do with how we process information. Years ago I had a friend who was developing a machine that tested whether you were primarily a visual, auditory, or a kinesthetic learner. He hooked this machine up to the computer and you had to identify first photos, then sounds. I blew the tester out of her seat with my facility for identifying the photos correctly and quickly. I have this knack for taking in an entire computer screen in a glance, or an entire paragraph. Doesn't work with sounds, though. After two of them I was hopelessly confused. I process information nearly completely visually, which is why if you tell me a phone number you have to say it very slowly and carefully. And it is why I write everything down. Don't necessarily have to refer back to it, just need to write it down.
And this, I suspect, is why I don't tell my stories out loud and why I tend to forget them. I'm not a story teller, I'm a story writer. If I tried to tell you the plot of my story I'd get as hopelessly confused as I was during the sound test. But give me pen and paper and I'll write you a fabulous synopsis. (This is also why email was invented just for me. I'd be happy if I never had to talk on the phone again.)
So I admire Brian and his facility for spinning tales as I drank my wine and picked at my fried fish sandwich (strange combination, but good). But don't ask me to try to mimic him. And don't ask me what the subject of this post was tomorrow.