GIVEAWAY WINNER: Mary Marvella, our fancy random commenter picker ‘Pick Giveaway Winner’ plugin has picked you! I’ll be in touch to get your address and your choice of a new Mary Stewart re-release.
I once read a great article by a well-known writer who said something about writers needing the stamina of an Olympic athlete. I liked it at the time, of course, but I thought it was just so much talk. Writers like to go on a bit about how hard it all is, and this was just another manifestation of that, I thought. Although, it is hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. But, Olympic athlete? Not so sure about that.
Then, along came last week’s episode of Mythbusters. My kids love this show, and I do, to. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the presenters take well-known myths, and see if they are true or not. It’s a combination of science, common-sense and blowing things up, and as the presenters are special effects experts, they seem to have all three down.
The myth they were trying to ‘bust’ is the notion that people only use 10% of their brain. They wanted to see if this was true or not, and they devised a number of elaborate tests while the presenters were attached to brain scan machines or in those CAT scan chambers to see how much brain activity was recorded.
In general, for most tasks, some quite complex, the brain seemed to use between 13%-20% of it’s capacity. But it was when one of the presenters was asked to tell a story that the scanning equipment lit up like a Christmas tree. It registered 34% brain usage. That was because not just one section of the brain was involved but a number of different areas.
So, it IS hard work! Using twice the amount of brain power as most other things hard. I don’t feel like such a wimp any more when I stare at the blank page and question my choice in career.
Suffice it to say, I understand on a very personal level the feeling of looking at something and just not wanting to even go there, because my brain is saying ‘Are you nuts? This is going to hurt!’. Complex maths comes readily to mind here. I forced my way through some of it at university just to prove to myself that I could do it if I really try. And I’m writing a book at the moment for which I had to get an understanding of the economics of the Napoleonic wars, as well as the various countries’ involved economic policies.
The first time I read the doctoral thesis that seemed to be the best overall document to do this, I barely understood a word of it. Now I’m on the fourth or fifth read, and wow, I know what is going on. I discovered this some time ago. If I read something, give my brain time to work it out, read it again, rinse and repeat, I can actually understand most things. Not very fast, obviously, but I’m like the tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.
So, what thing does your brain automatically shy away from and try to make you run screaming in the opposite direction from? Anything tech? Maths? Bank statements? Tax forms? (Forms of any kind throw me, somehow. I always make mistakes on them. I’d love to go form-free through life. How sad for me. LOL.) Or, does the idea of writing something creative on a page make you break into a cold sweat? How about taking on a room of 4 year-olds?
I’ll be giving away a copy of one of the newly-released versions of Mary Stewart’s suspense novels to one lucky commenter. Their choice which one. I was introduced to Mary Stewart by my (male) English teacher in high school, who claimed her novel MADAME WILL YOU TALK was one of the tautest, most suspenseful books he’d ever read. I never looked back. I ate her up, book after book. And one of the best compliments my editor ever paid me when we first ‘met’ each other online when she’d bought my book, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, was to say my work reminded her in some way of Mary Stewart.