The Mind Is a Terrible Thing

"Brain Vocab Sketch" © 2009 by Zachary Veach

Brain


I hate my brain, sometimes. Really.

See, NaNoWriMo is coming up soon, and I have 26 short stories to plan out. I am flogging my brain on what to do with ‘e’ and ‘f’ (the story I want to tell could go with either letter, but I can’t come up with a suitable rhyme for the other one, no matter which one I assign the story to). I was at lunch, reading a book on writing horror, and hoping that my subconscious mind was hard at work on the ‘e’ & ‘f’ problem. Oh, it was hard at work, all right. But I digress.

The book I’m reading is On Writing Horror: a Handbook by The Horror Writers Association edited by Mort Castle. The particular essay is “Avoiding What’s Been Done to Death” by Ramsey Campbell.

The passage I read is as follows and is reproduced without any sort of permission whatsoever, but I think it’s covered by fair use.

But it’s the job of writers to imagine how it would feel to be all their characters, however painful that may sometimes be. It may be a lack of that compassion that has led some writers to create children who are evil simply because they’re children, surely the most deplorable cliché of the field.

I got to the end of that and was interrupted by my subconscious. It tapped me on the shoulder, metaphorically speaking, and very quietly handed me a memo, then went back into its (dank, dark) lair.

It wasn’t about ‘e’ and ‘f’. Not at all. In fact, what it was was a completely reworked motivation for my antagonist character in the novel Perdition’s Flames on which I’m currently working, and am about 60,000 words into.

So, you know, now is just the perfect time to inform me that my motivation for this character has been all wrong, and that I need to introduce yet another character . . . in chapter 4 or so.

I’m writing chapter 21.

To be fair, my subconscious knows that I needed to introduce this character in this book to establish her so that my main character and she could have a relationship in the second novel. But still, really, subconscious? Really?

So I wrote all that down in my ever-handy notebook. And now I really need Mr. Subconscious-guy to go ahead and work on this stanza:

D Is for Dragon,
E Is for Egg;
F Is for [Something], [a phrase ending with a rhyme for ‘egg’].

Or, alternatively

D Is for Dragon,
E Is for [I don’t even know];
F Is for Fertile, [some phrase ending in a word that rhymes with the E-word]

So, get right on that, Mr. Subconscious. I know you’re listening. You always listen.

Even when I don’t want you to.

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