Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes to My Subconscious

This one should probably be tagged "Senior Moments".

Last Friday, I was alone in my car, listening to music, when I had a thought about the book. It wasn't a plot-altering revelation, but it was a nifty little idea that I wanted to use. I was driving on the interstate and didn't have a pen or paper in the car, but I was confident that I could remember such a great idea.

Nope. By the time I got home, all I could remember was that I'd had an idea, and that it had been somehow sparked by the song I'd been listening to. But I couldn't even remember what song.

No sweat, I told myself. It'll come back. And it did. On Sunday night I took half a Unisom to help combat a three-day stretch of insomnia, and I was just about to shut down my computer when something I read on Joely's blog triggered it and it all came back. I should jot this down on a sticky now, before I lose it, I told myself. Myself pshawed at me. Surely you can remember this long enough to open the Word file where you are keeping notes about the book? myself said.

Nope. By the time Word launched and the file opened, I'd forgotten it again. Couldn't remember what the idea was, what character it might apply to, what section of the book it belonged in, or what I'd read to remind me of it. So, so frustrating.

I hope this was the sleeping pill at work, and not just how my brain is going to be from now on.

Anyway, I remembered reading an interview with author Sue Grafton in which she mentioned that if she's having a tough time with something in a book, she writes a note to her subconscious requesting its assistance, and then she usually dreams the solution. One might well ask why I could remember the details of an interview that I read in 2002 when I couldn't remember the idea I had in my head two frickin' minutes ago, but one would miss the point. The point is, I decided to write a note.

Dear Subconscious,

I would very much appreciate it if you would let the story element I've forgotten twice bubble up to the surface of my mind again.

Best regards,

A little formal perhaps, but after all it was our first correspondence.

I did not remember the idea in my dream that night, but the next evening I was sitting on the couch with The Husband watching Ninja Warrior, and he said something that made me remember. I did not wait for the Word file to launch this time. And now I have an unexpected detail that will add some needed emotional depth to the beginning of Act IV.

That night I wrote another note:

Dear Subconscious,

Thanks! You're the best!


I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

1 comment:

  1. I have those moments ALL THE TIME. My solution is actually only slightly less troubling, if you want to seem like a capable, competent person, though: I say the idea out loud to myself. Putting it firmly into words solidifies it for me. Talking to yourself is not necessarily better than forgetting things, though.