Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Benefits of Being Scatter-Brained

I can't remember who this quote is from. (Naturally, as you'll understand if you finish reading this post.) But some famous person once said he would give a million dollars to be able to read Huckleberry Finn for the first time again.

I understand that sentiment. The thrill of discovering a truly great book, one that resonates with your soul and you know will be with you forever, is a rare experience. I have an advantage over this famous unknown person, however. I've always been a trifle absent-minded and fuzzy in the memory area, but as I approach the Big 5-0 (two weeks from tomorrow!), this condition seems to be getting more pronounced. But hey, that's great! In the past, I could put Huck Finn down for five or ten years, pick it back up, and it was almost the same as brand new. Now after six or eight months, I'm ready for a second read.

I love Agatha Christie books. I went through all of her Miss Marple's and Hercules Poirots some time ago. Now, I can pick one of them up and re-read it, and it's great. I don't have a clue who done it. Or how. Or why.

This is also an amazing ability for me as a writer, because after a brief period of time away from something I've written, it's a complete surprise to me. It's almost as though someone else wrote it.

Case in point. In 2008, I worked on my weird, gothic novel for the first six months or so. Then I had to put it down to write the romance novel I promised my agent. Now that I've finished with that, I picked up the rough draft of the gothic suspense and started reading it. What fun! I couldn't believe I'd written a lot of what I read--and I mean that in a good way. The plot hooked me, I liked the characters, and I'm dying to know how it will end.

Of course, that could be a problem. I'm not sure I remember how it ends. I didn't quite get finished with the draft last year, you see. I took notes, but they're sort of cryptic. Hmm...

I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. I am exactly the same way. I forget things very quickly. I read books that I have read 3 times and it seems different and exciting each time. The same is true in my own writing.

  2. Boy, can I ever identify! I can do the same thing with movies. It may seem vaguely familiar, but I have no idea of the plot twists, etc. My parents say it gets even better. You can go on road trips and not know that you had that same lovely drive a few years ago. Sounds good to me! ~Sherrie

  3. I love it when that happens. I had one line in my book that cracked me up every time I read it--I never saw it coming.

    Ironically that scene no longer exists. :D

  4. I said that about Pride and Prejudice, how much I wished I could read it again for the first time! I just loved the surprise twists that first time, and remember how excited I got and how I couldn't wait to see how Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy would finally get together! But now I know it backward and forward, and have watched the movies and miniseries so many times, but I still love it.

    As for Huck Finn, it's a little depressing if you ask me! I re-read it recently with my daughter and hardly remembered any of it from when I was a kid. Frankly, I prefer Tom Sawyer.

    And I just started revising my new book, which I wrote almost entirely in three months! And you wouldn't think I would have forgotten any of it in just three months, but it was almost like new again. The funny parts cracked me up and the romantic scenes were wonderful! Ha! If I do say so myself. :-)