Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What's going on in there?!

Did you ever suddenly notice that your mind has been doing things without you? It happens to me sometimes, especially where stories are involved. I’ve had that experience twice in the past few days, as a matter of fact. It’s kind of funny, in a slightly disconcerting sort of way.

The first time was while I was trying to figure out my way of working as a writer, trying to figure out what would work best for me. I realized that I've been going about this as if there's only one, true way for me to be a writer. If someone had asked me if there was only one way, I would have said "of course not!" But still I was proceeding as if that was the truth. I was acting as if I had to find the way to plan and organize and write. And I didn’t even realize I was doing that until the other day. It hit me suddenly, and I had to wonder, “What is going on in the back of my mind without me?” At least I figured out that I was doing it, so now I can stop and maybe do something useful!

The next instance of “my brain has a mind of its own” happened last night in the grocery store. I was walking along, past a food display I can’t even remember now, and I found myself thinking, “I wonder what Rachel would think of that?” Rachel? Who’s Rachel? There are no Rachels in any of my stories! There are people living in my brain I didn't even know about!

This happens with characters sometimes. I’ll be working on a story, and the characters who live in my head will insist on calling one of the other characters a different name than the one I tried to bestow. Or a new character will suddenly be there, name and all, and I find that there’s a perfect place for him or her in my story. But this is the first time that a name suddenly came into my head, apparently belonging to someone living back there, without there being a story to go with the name.

It’s kind of exciting, really. Rachel. I like her. I don’t know much about her yet beyond her name, but I like her. I can tell. I can hardly wait to find out more about her! I can hardly wait to find out what her story is!

As a last tidbit that has nothing (much) to do with any of the above, I just got an e-mail about a short story contest with an August 1 deadline. It’s being run by Wordstock and will be judged by Ursula K. Le Guin. Eep! That’s almost enough to make me not do it! Almost. But maybe this will be Rachel’s story. Maybe this is why Rachel made herself known last night. So I think I’ll get over the “scary famous writer” jitters and write a story for this. And see what Rachel has to say.

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