Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grindstone Day 8

Time: 5.08 pm
Chapter: 1, take 1
Pots of tea: 1.5
Flavour: white wine and muscat (yes, a tea)
Lunch: Udon, fish cakes, shoyu and miso soup with mushrooms
Snack: apple

Time is starting to contract on me and I'm going to have to speed up my rate of writing (maybe spend less time on the internet?) if I'm going to make the deadline of 8 chapters by the 15th. I've been thinking today of the nature of memory, how we use it and how we interpret our childhood memories. Medical wisdom has it that we form most of our neuronal connections before the age of 3, yet most of us remember nothing before the age of around 5. What happens to those lost memories? Is it just that we reprocess them into something else? What are we anyway except for a conglomeration of our memories?

Maybe that's why the human urge to tell stories is so compelling. In my professional life, I know the power of stories. The medical history will give you most of the clues to the diagnosis, and is more reliable than the examination and all the high-powered tests put together. Even more than that, the best thing to do with a pissed-off patient who has been waiting in pain for hours is to ask to hear their story. Nothing heals someone so fast as the right to give out their memories, to say who they are.

Maybe that's why I write. Someone asked me yesterday why I bother to try writing a novel, if it's so hard. Maybe that's why. There are so many memories, mine and my characters', to tell, and for me, it's easier to try than to not.

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