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April 01, 2012: Beating the Odds

Today, as I working on Headwinds (a previously abandoned memoir), a few things fell into place. I had a split narrative in the chapter in which I wrote about the days preceding my parent’s 1963 separation. This chapter, entitled “He who Hears His Master’s Voice,” originally contained a split narrative. The first part was about the events that followed my parent’s parting, and the second part was about the events that preceded it. I previously sensed that this might be confusing to readers, but then I decided that they’d be able to figure out what was going on.

Alys's Brain
Alys's Brain

I’d set the manuscript aside. Three years later, I’ve returned to it anew. It had stood the test of time, which is why I have resumed working on it.

On Friday, as Pete and I were heading to town, I inwardly deliberated about my flipping the two parts of “He who Hears His Master’s Voice” around. And by the time we reached our destination, I’d determined that I could successfully do this.

Pete did ask what I was thinking about – I said something about snow melt, because this was just too complicated a matter for me to explain. Sorry, Pete.

Yesterday and today, I revised this chapter. I did the big organizational stuff first; then I went at making the connections between the two sections clearer. I know that the above overview of today’ composing process will be of little interest to anyone. I’ve discovered that most really just want the final product. The conscious mind wants clarity, linearity, finality.

But what I have to say about the above IS quite interesting. As I was working away, the changes came easily to me. This, in spite of the fact that the sun was shining brightly, and I therefore I felt obligated to be outside. It was if my subconscious had been working on this chapter, and was one step ahead of me.

I don’t think that my subconscious randomly chose to work on this particular section of this particular book. I would instead venture to say that the subconscious of (for example) a writer is usually working simultaneously on a variety of composing process problems. This is a nonlinear process to which time takes a back seat.

No, time is not standing by the side of the road, smoking a cigarette. The subconscious limitedly prioritizes. In other words, it works to solve the more immediate problems. But this is not to say that it’s not also (for example) still working on backlogged stuff.

The thought of this overwhelms me, for I have a lot of work that for time-related reasons is going to remain unfinished. But what’s key here for me is this – I stand a better chance of being able to problem solve if I remain disciplined, and force myself to work every day. It’s sort of like throwing the fishing line in the water. But the question that I’m left with is this – what’s the role of the subconscious in determining what I or anyone else might work on in a given day?

Next: 115. 4/2/12: Depth of Field