Best Friend/Worst Friend: My Brain

When you do anything with any degree of success—or just sometimes when you manage to get your lazy butt out of bed in the morning—someone is bound to ask you what in your life helped to facilitate this and what in your life worked to hinder it. In terms of my writing, the answer for me is the same: my brain. Yes, my friends, gray and wrinkly and trapped inside a calcified prison, my brain—I call him Mr. Brain Fourlobes or just Brain—loves and needs me with all of its lobes and yet secretly wants to wrap its cerebellum around my throat and crush my windpipe until all of its synapses stop firing. In short, my brain is the frenemy that lives behind my face—and I bet you thought you and your frenemy were close.

Why this is so, I can’t begin to explain, and that’s probably due to the fact that my reasoning in these matters is controlled and regulated by Mr. Brain himself. So I’m only allotted a few spare seconds every other third day to ponder this dichotomy. However, even though I do not know why it does this, I am certain that it does because of the clues it leaves behind. What clues? Well, for one, my brain comes up with these wonderful ideas that just beg to be put down in print; it helps me to craft worlds and magical systems and inserts dialogues and plot points wherever they’re needed. It can take something mundane and tedious like tax collecting and spark something within me that has me feverishly writing the start of a brand new supernatural novel. That’s my favorite Brain. That’s the Brain I love, the one I remember from my childhood, where anything was possible and imagination was a limitless and free resource.

But Brain is also jealous of all the spare time I spend thinking about these wonderful stories; so occasionally, right when I’m in the middle of a very juicy part in the story, Brain will suddenly whisper to me that this story isn’t that good, and I should start writing this new and more exciting story that it just gave me. Thanks Brain! This idea is better and more exciting…except…what’s that, Brain? No, it sucks and I should burn it all before anyone sees it and chases me into writing oblivion with literary pitchforks? But you said it was good Brain, what happened? What should I write now? Oh, that first idea that you told me not to waste my time on? Okay. If you insist…You’re the brain after all and I’m just the meat suit that carries you around.

So Brain and I are back on good terms again, and I’m back to what we both agree is the better story, and all’s right with the world…except! Brain gives me this great idea, while I’m at work and unable to reach a computer or get away to write anything down. Still, Brain keeps everything going behind the scenes. The ideas swirl in my head, getting better and better with each turnaround. Then lunch hits and I run to the break room to write every word of this masterpiece down…and Brain suddenly shuts off and I find myself unable to think of a single line or plot point of this brilliant idea; instead all I can think about are penguins. If they’re birds, why can’t they fly? Shouldn’t they be classified under a different species then? Are they actually a different species and I’m just ignorant of this fact? And do they feel shame over their status as non-flight birds or do they ignore it by making glib remarks about ostriches?

That’s what Brain does to me. It teases me with a promise of an evening of wild, unbridled story creation, then turns over and burps loudly in my face. What’s even worse than that, however, are those times when Brain decides to seed an incredibly awesome idea in me just as I hover on the precipice of sleep, so that the brilliant solution to the plot dilemma I’d been obsessed with is mixed together with some inane bit of memory flotsam. The result? A dream in which my main character is skillfully debating with his antagonist when Ryu of Street Fighter fame comes up and Hadokens them both to death. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, if I could remember anything from that very pivotal conversation that I’d been toiling to get just right; now the scene doesn’t feel right unless a sleeveless vagabond interjects with a fireball to the face.

Wait…Brain just had a great idea…He says that since this is a fantasy story, maybe I could get away with it. I’ll just need to change Ryu into an outcast Druid from a part of the country that has a heavy embargo placed upon it to control the strange mystics that dwell within and…damn it, Brain! Stop trying to talk me into actually making this a part of my story!!

With that, I’m going to sign off before Brain whispers anymore nonsense in my ear. Goodnight everyone. Goodnight Ryu.

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