I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I’m comfortable giving an anatomy lesson here because, well because the damn blank page can stretch on forever, and somebody’s got to do something about it. One might think the standard anatomical components of a writer are the same as for your basic human, but one would think wrong. We writers know—we’re made of stranger stuff.
Let’s begin at the top.
Head. It’s a lovely consideration that our heads are the seats of Apollonian logic: ideas are sifted and weighed, decisions are the result of perspective and balance. Nuh-uh. The writer’s head is much more a seething cauldron of blurky sludge, peppered by pinpoints of light—think Neil deGrasse Tyson on the new Cosmos, explaining dark matter. Writing is work, but as we know from the word “heady,” writing is whimsy too. The mouth-part of a writer’s head will word-splurge on why a character behaves the way they do, from a Frankensteinian perspective, a Freudian perspective, or a Franzenian perspective, but really, that’s just a dodge: those careening-character directives come from the serendipitous moments when those pinpoints of lights converge: epiphany! When those epiphanic events aren’t directed toward writing, they move urgent messages from your subconscious: “Uhh, sale on paper towels, must buy!” A writer’s head: you’ll never finish peeling that onion.
[pullquote]A writer’s head: you’ll never finish peeling that onion.[/pullquote]
Neck. Writer’s necks are unusually wrinkled: they are always craning them around corners, searching for an idea. This contortionist’s trick is also quite useful when eavesdropping in coffee shops, seeking muttered quirks to employ later in story dialogue. Writers tilt their eavesdropping ears toward jewels like these: “Well, why, exactly were you in the zip-up panda suit when the contractor came over for the appointment?” “Never mind that—I think these lowlife baristas are putting high-fat milk in these low-fat lattes!” Remember, writers are thieves: we steal from life, an inexhaustible fire. Stretch the neck. [Read more…]