One of my many random quirks

It’s a new calendar year. Why not start a new thing on the blog?

For the next little while, I’ll feature tidbits of personal trivia I have been informed are not as well-known as I imagine them to be. It’s another topic to alternate with book posts, writing rants, media consumption lists, baking recipes, and so on.

My first not-so-major revelation: I am face blind.

Yes, yes, I know lots of people have trouble remembering names, many people are bad with faces, but…have you ever walked right past your parent or your spouse or your best friend of many years because you DID NOT SEE THEM out of context?

I have. Many times. That’s my level of “bad with faces.”

It doesn’t mean I’m people-blind.  I recognize people…mostly. Just not faces. Or voices.  It’s more that I deliberately construct conscious brain imprints of overall person-ness — how you move, speak, dress, etc. I can spot friends across crowded rooms, especially if I’ve made note of what they’re wearing.

But do I spot details like changes in hair color, eyeglasses, makeup, scars, tattoos or “identifying characteristics?” NOPE.  As a kid, I thought the ability to describe and remember other people like characters in books & on TV was a fictional power. And names? Pffft. The label for your gestalt may be stowed away in a totally different mental zone, because I have a WTF brain.

ANYway.

This means if you’re standing still, if I’m not looking for you–and especially if I haven’t seen you recently? My chances of knowing who you are or even SEEING you is 50/50 or worse. The longer it’s been since we last talked, the worse my chances are.

This makes conventions more than moderately terrifying.

Why? In large part because people tend to remember me for some reason. Good friends I see only at cons, wonderful people I met at conventions past–y’all spot me and make a point of saying hello, being the awesome, cool, kind, and wonderful people you are…

…and there I will stand, without the slightest clue who’s talking to me.

I am often forthright, even pre-emptive, about admitting I don’t know who someone is, but not always. Constant confession is emotionally exhausting and jabs a lot of big, red social-interaction buttons that trigger guilt dumps.

And whether I admit it or not, nothing will never erase the unhappy belief that people think I’m lying, that I’m a lazy jerk making excuses for not caring about them enough to remember them. It hurts to not be recognized by someone. I know this. 

I DO LIKE YOU. YOU’RE AWESOME! But I have faulty exterior-recognition software.

Guilty awkwardness is a burden on top of the already-huge stressiness of being at a con. (I love cons. TRULY. I love them. But it’s also true I love many things that aren’t strictly good for me…) 

ANYway.  Let me wrap up with this:

If you don’t see me often, there are a few ways to help avoid instilling quiet panic and deep-seated guilt in me when we meet. I don’t expect people to make the effort, but when it happens, I am FOREVER grateful.

The platinum standard: starts with “Hi, Karen (or Kem, or Kay, or Tigger, or Herkes, I answer to all these)  great to see you again.”

This demonstrates you know me. Then it’s decision tree time.

IF I respond with your name or a personal tidbit that makes it crystal clear I remember who you are, we’re good. My brain has coughed up your imprint in a timely fashion. Yay, brain.

If I DON’T use your name, could you please consider proceeding to something like this: “I’m <your name> we know each other from <place/time> and add something about our prior interaction?

By doing this you:

  • providing release from expectation damps down my guilty adrenaline rush. (adrenaline not being a friend of higher brain function)
  • Offering memory tags right off the mark helps me place you in context, which gets me to the proper brain space where your ID is stored.
  • The more you talk and move, the more data I have available to match to the gestalt of physical characteristics on file.

You can be as simple as, “It’s Felicity. From work? I’m in Accounting? We don’t see each other often.”  Or as complicated as “I’m Gwen. We were table neighbors at XYZCon, and it turned out we went to the same elementary school. We talked about meeting for dinner next con–how are you?”

But even if I appear to be entirely comfortable chatting, if I don’t respond with your name or personal deets, it’s likely I do NOT recognize you at the start of the conversation.

Talking comfortably at length with total strangers is a survival skill I mastered long before I knew face blindness was a thing, not a failure of effort on my part. If we talk long enough, I often…eventually…figure out what our relationship is.

It’s a huge relief when I don’t have to work that strategy or confess to cluelessness, though.

And yes, I do try to do this for others, on the rare occasions I am introducing myself to people I recognize.

Because I never expect anyone to recognize me.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Until later, world!

Unpleasant Possibilities.

Zero forward progress has me feeling down.

I’ll have to trunk Sharp Edge if I can’t get these rewrites moving. I don’t want to do it. I REALLY don’t. I’ve promised it to people. I have Rhiannon’s beautiful cover art. I have paid good money for fantastic, insightful edits, and I have plotted out the changes I need to make this already @#%$! amazing book absolutely %!&@$ AMAZEBALLS.

But none of that matters, because I know how the story ends, and writing new scenes into a story whose ending I already know is like trying to tow a loaded ore boat up a canal by hand, all by myself.

Once I’ve dug into a job I’m a strong and steady plodder, but right now I’m slogging through mud where I can’t get any traction, hauling away ay a massive DONE thing that’s sunk in place.

Stubborn determination keeps me sitting at this computer day after day–but every day I find myself working on ANYTHING ELSE during my creative time (like, oh, writing this blog post…) and I finish single paragraphs in Sharp Edge, if that.

If at this point you’re feeling the urge to share pious, sugar-mouthed chirpy cliches like “Just write for yourself/you have to want it bad enough/motivation comes from within,” please keep them to yourself, thank you very much.

I don’t write for myself. I never have. I’ve completed a half-dozen novels not writing for myself just fine, ditto for a dozen shorts.

I only put the swearing and sweat required to squeeze my non-linear thoughts into writing so I can tell stories to OTHER PEOPLE. Therein lies my problem.

At this stage with past books, I hadn’t worn out the few friends who liked seeing the raw pieces as I wrote them. I could convince myself they were urgently waiting and wanting the story. Believing I would disappoint them if I didn’t have something new FOR THEM was like having a whole team of helpers tugging away at me from the other side, countering the weighty DONENESS of the story I was revising.

I don’t have that any more.

Everyone is patient. And understanding. And busy with their own lives and problems, and honestly if anyone said they DID want to read my raw progress,  I would have to be convinced. Several years of experience with Support & Encouragement as Vague General Concepts have taken their toll. I now suspect it all as coming from a place of kindness rather than objective excitement about the story itself, and that’s quite the anti-motivator.

(Hi, my name is Karen, and  my writing kicks ass, but the way some friends get all tense around the eyes and swiftly change the subject whenever I talk about my books makes me sad…)

ANYway.

Anyone out there craving the next scene from this book I am utterly unable to work up any momentum on? Anyone willing to convince– as in NAG– me and insist on being given material to read weekly? Daily?

Anyone love Elena’s whiny teen angstiness and Valerie’s nervous conflict-avoidance that much?

I’m not expecting a positive answer. But I’m working up to facing the reality that if I can’t find someone to help me haul this load, pretty soon I’m gonna have to drop this rope and go find a different towpath.

Even if it breaks my heart to do it.

 

October Word 5

Today’s timed act of typing

October 5. Malady

There’s a problem with malady, and it’s that I have to process the word before I can write about the meaning of it, Words dance, now and then. I’m not diagnosed dyslexic, but…words don’t always behave well. Malady NEVER looks right. There’s something wrong about it. There’s some amusement value there, no? Malady suffers from a malady? Anyway, I’ve misspelled it three times.  But I don’t misspell “misspell.” Go figure. Nothing wrong with my spelling. And now I’ve nearly run out of time and I didn’t even get to complain about malady being a mealymouthed, fainthearted kind of a word for describing being sick…and now Im’ wondering about the origin of the word mealymouthed and I’ve run out of time.