I am seriously one of the most absentminded people on earth sometimes. My brain just refuses to focus on things it doesn’t enjoy for very long, and when I force it to, it retaliates by filling itself with fantastic stories. The harder I try to MAKE it behave, the more rebellious it gets. For this reason, there are three places I normally get most of my story-plotting done.
Number one: the car. I have a long commute (20+ miles) every day, and the endless time spent behind the wheel in rush hour traffic gets very boring very quickly. Even the radio and/or my favorite IPod playlist usually aren’t enough to keep my brain entertained, and so most of the time my head starts telling me stories within a few minutes of settling into the drive.
Music is often actually a pretty great accompaniment, as scenes like to start playing out in my imagination like music videos. These very often help me work out the emotional context of particular events or relationships, and there have been quite a few times that a particular song’s lyrics have inspired a detail that I probably wouldn’t have thought of without the music as a backdrop…
Number two: in bed, before falling asleep. I suffer from regular bouts of insomnia (runs in my family) and one of the unfortunate side effects of being bitten by the writing-bug is that it often means I don’t get much sleep until the story’s been all hammered out. I lay there trying to fall asleep, but the characters are so busy running amok in my brain that I can’t drift off. *sigh* However, I have to say that probably 80- 90% of most of my stories end up getting worked out in the hours I spend trying NOT to think about them. Many times a logistical problem I’ve been wrestling with keeps me up until the wee hours of the morning, but then in the moments after I’ve groggily slapped my alarm, I find that the resolution has suddenly materialized in my head like a remembered dream.
And number three: the shower. There’s nothing quite like a nice, hot, steamy, relaxing shower to refocus my brain from all of my daily “real life” responsibilities to something much more creative and fun.
Now, normally this distracted, daydreamy state is relatively harmless. However, when my life is especially hectic, or work is especially stressful, it gets increasingly intense…
So, a couple nights ago, I’d had a particularly dreadful day at work and didn’t get out of the office until after 8 PM. In the car on the way home, Ithyria arrived in my brain on a rampage (like it always does when I’ve had to spend an entire day focused on things I don’t particularly enjoy). So I was in full-on daydreaming story-plotting mode by the time I arrived home around 9 PM. I had just enough time to eat some food and kiss my wife, and then jump into the shower where I could continue my pleasant adventures in a world where there are no ringing telephones and constant questions and endless piles of paperwork to process. When I got out of the shower I headed right off to bed, and was sitting under the covers checking last-minute emails on my phone. I absentmindedly ran a hand through my hair and realized that it felt really weird.
Turns out, in all my daydreaming in the shower, I had forgotten to rinse the conditioner from my hair. Shasta could not stop laughing as I jumped out of bed and dunked my head under the sink… I was really glad that I’d noticed it before going to sleep, because I could have very easily found myself with an awful mess to deal with the next morning… and that would most definitely NOT have made for a very good start to the day, haha!
However, absentmindedness in the shower is much less dangerous than in the car, right? (Last night, some strange guy followed me home, which completely freaked me out until he just called out his car window at me that my tail lights seemed to be out… and I realized I forgot to turn my headlights on the whole way home. I have daytime running lamps so I didn’t notice that my rear-end was not as bright as it should have been. *falls over*)
I think perhaps this is a sign that I really, really need a break from work. Thank goodness I’ve got a little vacation coming up next week!!