Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Having confessed to acute absentmindedness when in my writing zone, I had better explain that I don’t actually have to be writing when in that state. I merely have to be thinking about some aspect of writing for my connection with what purports to be the real world to become tenuous. That means I don’t have to be sitting at my computer to put on my reality distortion field. The state is, so to speak, mobile; and can exist when performing some other activity like shopping, or walking, or driving.

Driving! Yes, indeed. And frankly I’m not at all sure that any any author should drive while in the writing zone. Mind you, how such a legal restriction could be enforced is a good question.

Writing apart, I wonder is absent-mindedness hereditary? My much loved grandmother, Vida Lentaigne, was impressively absent-minded and once forgot to put on her dress before going to church. On the other hand she was also a writer, albeit of poetry, so it may be that her particular writing zone was the cause of her scatty behavior.

She wrote some truly wonderful poetry, and continued studying her craft until she died at the age of 78 (without question, the worst day of my life).

Her will specified that the love letters she had exchanged with her husband, John Lentaigne, should be burned unread upon her death. I was delegated to do the task. Despite my curiosity I did as she had asked, and consigned the bundles of letters, all tied up in pink ribbon, to the flames. Only later did I find out that her poetry had been similarly packaged; and I had burned that too.

To this day, I cannot forgive myself.

It was my grandmother who first got me hooked on books. Before I could read, she used to read to me, and would add extra chapters if I would eat all my food, including items I disliked. Specific rates were negotiated. Two carrots were worth one chapter; and so on. I got the best deal from artichokes in white sauce – which I loathed.

It is a great thing to be read to; and granny was a talented reader, teacher, and creative mentor.

Without her inspiration, I would never have become a writer. As for artichokes; we have agreed to mutually co-exist.

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