I may have mentioned in some comment or other that I had an Incident With Bicycle and Pickup last weekend. I am lucky to be a) alive and b) whole and–barring a somewhat unhappy neck and some fairly impressive bruises–recovered. The incident was my fault; though I knew that was an almost-blind turn into a very narrow lane, and that large pickups lived on the connecting street, I failed to adhere to the ABCs of safety: ALWAYS Be Careful, not “Nearly Always Be Careful…”
However–and dragging this back to the topic of writing–even as I had that flash of fear, hands frozen on the hand brakes, and the rapid calculations of where I could aim for best outcome-least damage, Writer Brain had its own approach. As usual, this involved a sidebar of commentary on the rest of me: on sensory input going far beyond what I thought I was thinking: not just the feel through my hands of the front wheel locking and starting to skid, and through my seat of the back wheel coming off the ground, and the bike parts hitting body parts, but details of the pickup truck and its grill (too close, thanks) , the feel of the street under the soles of my sandals, the way my toes bumped the toes (these are closed-toed sandals) and the feet in the sandals slid on the socks. And analysis and advice for the Writer (totally useless to the bike rider as the bike went down and slid on the ground and I managed to keep my feet and not fall into a house wall. Barely.)
Writer Brain always–always–has Writing in mind. So nearly all the time–and always in a crisis unless I’ve been knocked out–it’s scavenging the situation for Material. It’s like those rude reporters (and one of the reasons I hate the rude reporters is for letting their Writer Brain out into the world unfiltered) and insists on recording everything it can, because Everything Is Material. And then it immediately starts fitting things into story segments, hanging them away in the Props Closet so they can be taken out when needed. “What did it feel like? How scared were you? Did your hair rise?” (No. No time. Happened fast.) “Did it hurt?” (GO AWAY. LET ME GET MY BREATH!) “How out of breath are you? What was your heart rate? Your respiratory rate? What is it now? And by the way, look up the normal rate of recovery, when you get back to the house.” (SHUT UP!) “No, but this is important–you felt that blow on your leg, right? Well, it it still numb or has it started hurting? And is it a dull hurt or a sharp one?” (WILL YOU SHUT UP?) “No, of course not. My job is recording and analyzing and saving it all. Now I have some more questions…”
When I got home and started icing down the bruises, Writer Brain was ready and eager to continue sorting and analyzing and storing it. I was less thrilled with Writer Brain’s fanatical desire to get it all down now, before I could forget any of it, but…on and on it went. And of course it’s still there, because I have the module permanently installed, and it has no OFF button other than complete unconsciousness.
It was there for each stage of recovery, noting the size, color, swelling, and discomfort of each bruise. It was there when my physical therapist tried valiantly to get muscle spasms to let go. It was there when I got back on the bike and rode down to the same corner. “What’s your heart rate now? How nervous are you about this corner?” and notes with interest my new slightly increased tension at the sight of a white pickup (previously, my concern focused on dark-colored pickups.) Now I know–already knew–that Everything Is Material, and therefore whatever happens to me is potentially good story fodder, but sometimes you just want to endure the situation in peace. Without commentary.
Today I made 10 miles again, though not all in one ride (and not just because of the injuries–because on Fridays, when the rest of the family is at a movie, I ride downtown and get a slice of quiche from the bakery for lunch. But middays are too hot to ride the full 10 miles. Writer Brain was a little quieter today (it has minimal interest in routine trips to the post office, bank, and bakery–all that’s been filed already) only perking up when TWO inept drivers of long trucks got themselves “hung” in the turn from the highway to Main Street–and trucks that length commonly have no problem–while I was wheeling the bike to the bank. (Because it would be suicidal to ride the one and half blocks of Main downtown, that’s why. So I could watch as they blocked the entire intersection and it wasn’t my mistake this time.)
And Writer Brain missed that the protective cap over the top of the front suspension cylinder on the left side had been scraped off by the bike sliding on the ground. Ha! I say to Writer Brain. You aren’t perfect. And Writer Brain replies that it was stuck in a physical brain that wanted to spend most of its processing on survival and it couldn’t grab control of the whole brain until I was lying down with ice packs here and there keeping me still. “And then you wanted to read a book,” it complains. “Instead of helping me out.”
Yes, writers have very weird consciousness. Just in case you didn’t know.
Next week I have the needle biopsy of the thyroid nodules on Tuesday and then head for WorldCon. Since I have no smartphone and may or may not have a working netbook (need to turn it on and find out) I may be completely offline for a week. In the interim I’ll be on panels and talking to people and sharing a hotel room with my previous editor Betsy Mitchell, and having breakfast with my current Editor. (Kind of scary, as it was year before last at a convention breakfast meeting that Betsy told me she was taking early retirement. ) My convention schedule (aside from meetings with Agent and Editor and whatever parties I get to) is up at my main website.
Oh–and another piece of writerly news–I heard from the editors of the anthology in which the first Paksworld story will appear that they really liked it. So keep an eye out for a Baen Books anthology called Shattered Shields. I don’t have a pub date for it yet, but sometime next year. If it comes out before Crown of Renewal, it will not be a spoiler for the book; it’s set in the same time, but in a place not otherwise seen in the book.