Warning: This May Cause Side Effects

A couple of morning thoughts.

1. Writing week appears to have had an unexpected effect: it's crippled my ability to do small-talk. This is a serious problem. I like small-talk. It's comfortable and puts others at ease. Living so deep inside my head means I'm surfacing slowly, and find myself blankly waiting for a nice ordinary response to float through my brain in answer to questions like: how are you?

It kinda sucks; not kinda, totally. I'd forgotten about that side effect, or never connected it to the writing portion of myself. And honestly, I miss my small-talking self. I like trusting that I'll know what to say, which is really about being present and listening and having fewer filters--and, frankly, bothering with much much much less reflection.

It's possible, though I haven't thought deeply about it (ha!), that my brain operates in an either/or fashion: either verbal, or written. If I'm operating in writing mode, my brain can't access the words, at least not efficiently, in verbal form. And apparently I can't turn off writing mode with the flick of a switch. Friends, forgive me in the meantime.

2. I continue to long for a practical profession. The friends I met up with last night are women close to me in age, whose children are now off to school, and who have chosen such interesting and practical directions for their post-intense-mothering lives. Midwife. Nurse. Youth counsellor. Hands on, directly affecting the lives of others in need, being physically and emotionally present, interacting, connecting, empathizing. With real people. In real time. In my work, I do an enormous amount of emotional empathizing, but with makebelieve characters. Gah! I am laughing and shaking my head as I write that. It seems like such a bizarre way to connect with other humans.

Kevin's response to my morning whine of "I should be doing something practical!" was "strongly disagree." He suggested I should take my attitude and join Stephen Harper's conservatives and stop funding the arts and go live in a world where everyone wears grey overalls and does nothing but work work work. You can see why I married him.

3. This Globe and Mail article on David Mitchell helped me finish writing a story earlier this week. I have not yet read him, but must; it's on the post-Wolf Hall list, which is growing ever longer as I joyfully wade through the gorgeously written Tudor underworld.

Notes on David Mitchell: a) There is such a thing as literary stardom: he's there. b) His fascination with, and commitment to, obscure and self-imposed rigorous structural limitations really resonated with my writing/creative mind. c) He advocates a strict, disciplined lifestyle: no tv, no distractions, work. "Living this life, 'you acquire the pleasure and the discipline of geekdom,' he says, launching into an animated account of the way 'perhaps' and 'maybe' strike the eye ever so slightly differently, and confessing that 'Oooh, I spend long, luscious, sweaty nights thinking about this kind of stuff.' " Brilliant! I get it. And I love how happy he sounds. d) He lives in a tiny village in Ireland and he sees his wife, two children, and "about three friends." e) I wonder how he does small-talk.

4. Funny how a couple of posts back, I said I wasn't going to write about writing. Have I written about anything but, since?

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