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Once, I asked my friend this weird question: if your brain was actually a physical room inside your head, what would it look like? And, how would your thoughts be stored? This is something I think about often but I'd never been able to parse it for others before. One of the best ways I manage my brain is by picturing it and "retrieving" thoughts which I'll explain in a minute. First, her response. L said that her brain was an old fashioned library, rich leather, mahogany, cigar smoke ambiance and that behind the fireplace was a secret door leading to a large warehouse of filing cabinets. When she retrieves her thoughts, she simply pushes the secret mantle button and walks into the warehouse.

With a little concentration, she can find the thought or memory pretty quickly--yes, this does accurately reflect how insanely organized she is. Although, I'm sure the warehouse gets haunted sometimes, and the cabinets open and close by themselves, and a ghostly breeze tosses order around like a bean bag. Anyways, it's a neat little question I think.

The reason I'm always spinning my wheels on this is because I've long had an issue with attention. Let me describe my room. First of all, it's not a room. It's like a wall of water. And you know salmon season, when all the fish flip around in the water, slippery colors, flashing in the sun? That's what's happening in the wall of water: those are my thoughts. As a child, I'd simply reach in and grab the first fish that came my way and present it to whomever I was speaking with. My father and mother had to remind me constantly to think before I speak and I was often in trouble for my "mouth."

At school, where I was expected to focus, things were different. In subject areas where I lacked confidence, namely math and science, I balked. The fish move too fast, changed color and shape. They merged together to form one quivering, unknowable mass. Reading was the only thing that felt entirely natural. Consequently, I excelled in English and History, any class where I could read my way to a victory. Reading has always been huge for me: I can picture everything, smell it. There are so many details for my mind to tease out that I feel completely, totally "in the zone" as people say. I am also affected this way by large groups of people, music in other languages, working out in a crowded gym, and traveling.

Writing does also comes naturally, although sometimes, I spend a hour worrying about I won't be able to focus (or I go months without writing on my personal blog) and then like 40 minutes writing the dang thing. It's intuitive. I've learned that grammar and punctuation aren't so intuitive though. (Thanks to my creative director and shout out to Jill McDonough for humiliating me over an incorrect use of it's/its in a wee hours email I sent while stoned probably.) The point is, or I guess, the reason I'm writing this is that I need to figure out something like accountability. I've been able to write poems because they're snack size. I've read enough (for rn at least) and dabbled enough that often I can shit out a decent first draft and move on. Though my MFA definitely taught me the power of revision--something I try to do better at every day. NEWAYZ

Forever. I mean, since childhood. I've wanted to write a long book. I want to give someone the pleasure of silence the way I've felt. How a room goes entirely still and my heart and head stop buzzing for a time. BUT. I just can't get started! I can write short pieces, I can day dream about plot and character, and strategy etc. But I JUST CAN'T GET STARTED. Does anyone have any tips? Do you too suffer an intense fear of the blank page when contemplating a long project?


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