There are times when it is extremely difficult not to indulge in the time-honored writer habit of Making Things Up. It is, after all, what we are paid to do: sit alone in a room and Make Things Up. I've talked about that before, but it's a part of an incident that happened last week.
|L. to R. Barton Grover Howe, Christy Fifield, M.L. Buchman|
I was at one end of the shop when I heard a noise near the cash register. The sound of breaking glass. That's a scary sound in a shop full of breakables, but it got worse. The noise didn't stop, and it was accompanied by the crash of something heavy falling over.
As my husband and I talked about it later, I had to keep from ascribing motives to the woman who knocked over the display. It felt as though she high-tailed it out of the store without any attempt to take responsibility for the destruction she caused. But maybe she truly believed she was innocent and left because she was embarrassed. As I said, I was making things up.
I also realized that, given what I've been writing, this scenario (or something very much like it) will undoubtedly appear in a future book.
And this is where the Writer Brain comes in.
Writer Brain is a symptom all writers seem to manifest. It is that moment when you detach from some awful event and start storing details to use later. It's a way of dealing with painful or disturbing situations.
An example? At the beginning of my summer medical odyssey I took an ambulance ride. About ninety miles with lights and sirens, in the middle of the night, headed for a regional medical center and emergency surgery. It should have been terrifying and stressful, and to some extent it was. But Writer Brain took over. It quickly occurred to me that this might be the only time I got a close-up look at the inside of an ambulance and I started looking around, trying to store up all the details I could, to use later.
So last week's disaster will show up in a book sometime, just as calls from our police scanner have formed the basis of certain scenes, and other painful - or joyous - personal experiences have informed other stories.
It's the curse (and the blessing) of Writer Brain.