What I learned

Last weekend, I learned the Enemy’s name and, more importantly, how to kill the motherfucker.

I was at Mysteries in the Midlands, a mystery writers conference in Columbia, South Carolina. It was a cozy (in more ways than one, which I’ll get into later) affair. It started with a lovely dinner at the Palmetto Club with the moderators, panelists and other bigwigs attached to the event. I was there as the +1 with my sister in law, Beth aka Jaden Terrell. So, since I was there as her arm candy, I was on my best behavior. No cursing, no farting, no politics and nothing too terribly macabre.

Well, 2 out of 4 ain’t bad.

shurg

Most of the writers there write cozy mysteries, stories where the violence happens off screen. No sex. No or very little swearing. The murders are cocooned between dinners, neighborly visits and garden parties as a delightful amateur sleuth figures out clues.

A very polite crowd. In spite of their craft.

I overheard a woman admonishing a man because he said, “Shit”. I was perplexed. Everyone at this table conjures up and plots murders, no matter how clean and civil, they are still MURDERS, and you’re all up in this guy’s grill for saying shit? Bitch, if thoughts are as dangerous as actions, every motherfucker at this table should be in prison.

But, as a +1, I kept my tongue still.

The next day, I went to a panel about Neuroscience and Creativity. A fascinating 90 minute lecture about how your brain works while being creative.

This is where I learned about The Enemy.

Get this. Your brain weighs around three pounds is about as big as both of your fists. Go ahead. Make two fists and put them on top of each other. That’s roughly your brain.

Now, see that bit that is around your first knuckle? That is where your prefrontal cortex is located. That piece of cerebral property is where YOU live. That controls all you know, think and how you see the world. It is your ego. All your hopes, dreams, fears and loves. Right there.

brain
That purple bit. That’s you.

 

All that rest, merely a support system to keep the meat covered skeleton you live in working.

Now, here’s the thing. according to a bunch of people in white lab coats who study brain meats while, when you are being creative guess what piece of the brain is completely shut down?

Yeah.

The Prefrontal Cortex. That little piece of you. The ego. The self editor. The voice that says “Shouldn’t you be doing something else?” It shuts down. It shuts the fuck up.

brain1
Shhhh, go to sleep. I’ve got work to do.

The White Coats say that when this PFC shuts down, creatives are able to access what they have labeled, The Flow. That really cool feeling when you are knees deep in a story and everything falls away? Time. That headache you had. Hunger. Fear. Anxiety. All that shit no longer matters because you are in The Flow.

And that cool feeling? That is your brain is rewarding you with a download of dopamine and serotonin for your troubles.

Sweet, sweet dopamine.

skeleton_2

But to get there, you have to shut down the Pre-Frontal Cortex. The enemy.

And that bastard won’t go down without a fight.

I asked the speaker, “Is it possible that the Prefrontal Lobe doesn’t want to be shut down? Like a toddler not wanting to take a nap. Is that where procrastination comes from?”

“EXACTLY!”

RLil

So, how do we access The Flow?

Lots of ways. You can just sit down and start writing. Just write nonsense (like this blog! HA!). Or take a walk. Sweep. Do something physical. Anything that diverts the Enemy until you BAM! hit it where it lives, put it to sleep and get that sweet, sweet Flow.

Or, much like the way I’m doing it (right now!), you can take a more chemical approach.

Neuroscientists have determined that it only takes 0.07 Blood Alcohol Content to put the sweet baby prefrontal cortex to sleep. A smidgen under the legal definition of drunk.

So, fill up that glass.

wine

Drink. Shut down the Enemy.

Science says it’s okay.

 

 

 

 

Wealth

I turn 53 years old today; I have $25 dollars in the bank.

In many people’s perspectives, I am not doing this whole adult thing very well.

I have to disagree, sweetie.

Let me list the reasons:

I am healthy. Other than a slight touch of hypertension, which is a result of genetics and beyond my control, I’m doing really well physically.

I struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life. I have that shit under control now. Sure, the Black Dog howls every now and then but, fuck that mutt. I hold the leash, bitch.

My marriage is stable and solid. Probably more now than ever. We have grown up together and are partners. I have his back and he has mine. What more could one want?

My children love me but, more importantly, they like me. They enjoy just hanging out with me.  I respect them as adults and they do the same with me. They’ve come to terms with having a weird mom and now actually relish in it. It’s a point of pride that their friends are jealous of our relationship.

My writing career is still chugging along. Sure, I don’t have an agent yet or on any big Book Lists but Past Nik would be amazed at all that we have out there. In the past 6 weeks, I have put out 4 titles. FOUR. And, most importantly, I am working on other stories. With even more ideas in the wings. My creative juices are flowing, baby, even if my estrogen levels are flatlining.

So, in spite of only having $25 in the bank, I’m rich.

There are many out there with fatter wallets that would envy such wealth.