Friday, May 19, 2017

This is my Brain...

How do you keep the balance between that little world in your head and the real one?

by Paul D. Marks

The simple answer is, I don’t. And I don’t care as long as I don’t call someone by one of my character’s names. Hasn’t happened yet, like it did when I called a girlfriend by another girlfriend’s name. That was not a good day…

And the best answer is what Susan said on Monday, “What? You mean the one in my head isn’t real?” I don’t think I can top that, but I gotta say something, so here goes:

Mostly it’s not a problem, see I actually know the diff between the real world and the world in my head…at least most of the time. The problem’s actually more acute, as opposed to cute, when I start to say some little silly thing to someone that isn’t my wife. Because, like many married couples we have our own way of talking and cute little things we say to each other. And sometimes some of those have started to pop out, but I think I’ve caught them all ahead of time. And the same goes for stories and characters, they’re always in there running around, percolating. So sometimes I might start to say something out of a story, but so far nothing’s actually escaped my lips.

And the reality is the inside of my head is like some Rube Goldberg contraption. Lots of pulleys and levers and slides and random junk everywhere, kind of like space junk in outer space, just floating around. So trying to get that little ball from one point to another can be a problem. The ball being the finished product, a story or novel.

The other reality is that as writers we’re working all the time, so it truly is hard to keep those little critters – our characters – out of our heads and out of our mouths. Everything we do, everything we hear, every conversation we have and everything we see is fodder for a current WIP or a future work.

As writers, I believe we’re often daydreaming, off in other lands. Sometimes it’s more fun to be in those worlds of our own making. Maybe more exciting than our humdrum everyday lives. Except mine ’cause my day job is as a super hero.

I do some of my best thinking while driving or walking the dogs or even in the shower. Actually, a lot of vexing writing problems have been solved with hot water running down my back. Something about that environment clears the mind. At least this mind. (I know, I know, some people think my mind has been too clear and empty for too long…) So there’s times and places to get lost in the world in our heads and times to be in the real world. But some day I might just go over the rainbow and stay in that other world forever. Of course the world over my rainbow is a dark night with rain-slick streets, glaring neon and venetian blind shadows everywhere.


And I want to congratulate everyone who was nominated for an Anthony earlier this week. I know a lot of you and you’re all terrific. I wish you all the best of luck!


And for something a little different: For the International Day of Families, my wife, Amy, did a piece on what it’s like to be a writer’s wife at the other blog I write for, SleuthSayers. If you haven’t read it you might find it interesting. So check out “Until a Split Infinitive Do Us Part” at: 


And now for the usual BSP:

My story Twelve Angry Days is in the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magaine, on sale at newsstands. Or click here to buy online.


I'll be at the California Crime Writers Conference in Culver City, June 10th and 11th. I'm on a panel called "The Long and Short of It: Short Stories and Novellas vs. Novels" with William Kent Krueger, Kate Thornton and Travis Richardson, moderated by S.W. Lauden. Hope to see you there!


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks for sharing how you keep the balance, Paul. It's good to know I'm not alone.

GBPool said...

Building that other world takes a lot of effort, so it does feel real. I have gone so far as to have people in one mystery series know the folks in another series. And even some of the stand-alones have crossover characters and places. It makes it even more real in my head... or maybe it is real and I'm the fictional character... So you're really Superman. That explains a lot. Say hello to Lois, uh, Amy.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Dieter. I think we're all walking the same balance beam in our own ways :-)

Paul D. Marks said...

It does take a lot of effort to build those worlds, Gayle. And it should feel real to us. And I like the idea of using crossover characters. It does make it feel more real. And I will say hello to Lois...when she gets home from the Daily Planet.

David Cranmer said...

Great piece, Paul. I find myself happily daydreaming in the landscapes I'm working on. Yeah, why leave.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, David. And, as you say, why leave?

M.M. Gornell said...

Yes, walking the dogs, and in the shower. I've given up keeping the worlds in my brain separate--but who says writers need to be sane? (smile) Enjoyable post!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Madeline. And I love it, "...who says writers need to be sane?" That says it all!

Lisa Ciarfella said...

Not sure about that Goldberg thing, but it sounds like a pinball game gone crazy up there...LoL!!