The Advantage of Losing One’s Mind

I refer, of course, to the “problem” of aging. Certainly, as I approach my 64th birthday, I am aware of numerous physical ailments large and small, some of which might kill me.

Shouldn’t worry overmuch about this. After all, could say the same thing about my neighbours but, just like my ailments, most of the time they don’t give me any cause for alarm.

No, it is my mental state which concerns me. Especially in light of my recent efforts to complete the July issue of Auroran Lights, the newsletter I do for CSFFA, the Aurora Awards people. Supposed to have been published last May. Got it out yesterday. Tad late for a monthly publication.

I knew I can only work on one project at a time. Now I know I can only work with one thought at a time. So much for my holistic situational awareness. Even when working on a single project I find I need a list breaking down all the sub-tasks within the project, a list I can tick off one item at a time, or else risk skipping over even the most obvious things which need doing.

For instance, despite proof-reading the “Table of Contents” for my 66 page newsletter numerous times, I completely failed to notice I hadn’t updated the page numbers listed with each article. Apparently just about everything is printed on page five. Hmm.

Not only that, but — after emailing the newsletter to more than a hundred people before I caught my “mistake” — I was moved to complain (about myself) to my wife, but instead of saying “I buggered up the Table of Contents list by not filling in the proper page numbers,” I said something like “I buggered up the thingie at the beginning cause I didn’t get the numbers right.”

Forgot what a Table of Contents is called, you see. Mind a total blank.

Given that I am currently (sporadically) working on my latest attempt at a novel, my increasing inability to juggle more than one thought at a time (and even then I have to hold on with both hands) is possibly cause for alarm.

Seems to me, a novelist is supposed to keep numerous characters in mind, along with all the myriad variations and complications of their behaviour and motivation depending on what is conjured up for the evolving plot. That’s just one example. How on Earth can I compose when I can’t remember what I’m writing about?

It is a bit like trying to look up a word in a Thesaurus (for the sake of a pleasing variety) when you only have a vague concept of the word and not the word itself.

Fortunately, I had a sudden vision of people looking at the Table of Contents in my newsletter and bursting out laughing. “What a moron!” they gigglingly cry.

That’s it! Sheer entertainment value! Expect the unpredictable!

I took a thirty year break between novel attempts. The previous novel had preparatory notes filling more pages than the novel itself, but I’m “winging it” with my current effort.

Even I don’t know what I’m going to write when I sit down at my computer to add more text to my novel. I was a trifle worried about this, but now I know I don’t have to worry about a thing. My growing inability to keep intellectual track of what I’m writing about guarantees I don’t require imagination or creativity to get the job done. I can rely on crazily impulsive, thoughtless and random exposition to throw curve balls at my readers and gob smack them with unexpected twists and turns in plot and motivation. The resulting “originality” of my prose will grab readers by the throat!

More and more my writing resembles the output of the proverbial “room full of chimps typing will eventually, in the fullness of time, randomly produce a work equal to the best of Shakespeare’s plays.”

Gosh. Every day I age, I get closer to the possibility of equaling Shakespeare!

And here I thought losing my mind was going to be a problem…

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