Health · My Book · My Family · On Writing · Writing Life

The Writer’s Brain

Here’s how it works in my brain.

It’s constantly telling me things to write. 

What does that mean?

It means that there’s a voice (among the many, but one of the main, loudest most prolific voices) that’s narrating narrations in my head ALL. THE.TIME.


Yesterday I went to Chapters with Miller and Jett. I received a gift card for my birthday (thanks Katie!) so I was excited to get to the store to see if I could find a book to buy. Plus, the kids did super well on their report cards so I said they could each get a new book to read if they wanted to. The deal for the summer is that they each have to read three novels.

Okay. So I’m in the bookstore and I’m looking around.

At all the beautiful book covers.

Scanning the names of writers and illustrators.

Then that voice pipes up. You know it, writers.

Immediately starts…what’s the best word? She immediately starts to self-deflate.

Don’t you wish YOU had a beautiful kid’s book on the shelf? 

How long will it take for someone to publish your stories? 

That was in the kid’s section.

I gently ran my hand over several covers and sighed. Audibly. And pined from my chest.

I couldn’t stay.

Up the few step to the YA section. Why? Why would I go there?

Go there. The voice told me. Go there and look at the best seller wall. Do it. 

So I did it.

Glossy covers. Dystopian. Romance. Comedy. Beauty. Angst. Love. Love. Love.

Wow! Look at that book! It has a whole wall!

I stopped and stared, my jaw opening.

“When will my book be on these walls?” I actually said out loud. Did I mean to? Miller was holding my hand and she looked up at me and said, “It will be, Mom. It will be. Eventually.” Then she let my hand go and went looking for a book.


Her word. That word. Eventually.

She said it so sweetly. So surely. So matter-of-factly. So confidently.

Your daughter has more faith in your work than you do. 

I swallowed back tears. Actual tears.

What’s happening to me? I thought I was doing so well! Focusing on dream development. Focusing on writing when I can and loving it. Getting ready to go to Humber in two weeks. How could it be that walking into a bookstore has gotten me completely undone?

“I have to leave this section,” I said out loud to no one. To everyone. To myself.

I wanted to leave.

Yes, you should leave the bookstore. The place you love. Because you don’t have a wall of your book to stare at. 

I felt petty. I felt sad. I felt like a fraud because I do have books on the shelf at Chapters. (I absolutely went to a computer and searched my name. Gawk. I did.) Then I felt guilty. Then I felt embarrassed. Then I felt….tired.

That other voice. The nice one. The narrator – she pushed back a curtain in my brain, and walked out. (I think she was wearing black stilettos.)

Hey. Hey you.

I felt my shoulders pull back.

You should write about this. These feelings. This rollercoaster you’re on. This rollercoaster you can get off at any time, by the way. You don’t even like rollercoasters anymore. Because you’ve changed. You’re changing, remember? It’s okay to go in a bookstore and feel ALL THE FEELINGS.

I told the kids ‘five more minutes’. I needed the time too. To gather the broken pieces of myself off the floor.

Hey. You’ve got a new idea. You need to work on it. Tonight. Tonight, I’ll introduce you to the characters who are waiting to meet you. How’bout that? 

I swear I nodded my head in the middle of the journal section.

I felt a twinge of…excitement. That excitement that I had before going into the bookstore.

Because for the first time in a long, long time – maybe an ever – the excitement I felt was for something I was writing. For an idea that’s brewing and bubbling. For a new story I’m writing. It’s not time for glossy covers and books on walls. It’s time for painful pulling of strings – strings connected to characters in my brain and heart – not strings – no, umbilical chords. This is a birthing. (Just like you said Tracey!) And one doesn’t give birth in a bookstore! I mean, not intentionally, right?

That’s a story.

Yes, it is! Quiet now, I’m writing.

The seed has been fertilized. And I’m pregnant with ideas.

Okay. That was…I threw up in my mouth a little.

Yeah. That was pretty…well, I’m not here to judge. The other one is. 

We left the bookstore and I didn’t feel sad.

I felt…ready. Ready to pay attention to the tugs from within.

And wouldn’t you know it, Jett went to a birthday party and Miller had a friend over and WHAMMO time opened up like a womb for an egg.

Eeee. Sheesh. 

So I sat on the couch, laptop on lap, and I did some research. And there they were: The Women. The Women in my story. It was like a zapping happened each time my fingers tapped the keyboard and the research revealed…well, revelations!

I wrote and back-storied and the only voice in my head was my own.

It was writing the story.

Then I had to stop. For reasons. You know, the reasons.

Well done, V.  They said. All the voices.


And that’s how it works. Every day. All day.

Everything I do has voices that narrate. And they help. And they don’t help. And they hurt. And they heal. But always ALWAYS they are narrating things I want to write. 

Not all the words find their ways to the page or the screen…and to those words, I say, I’m sorry. I love you. Thank you for passing through. Do come again!

I have a writer’s brain. Do you?

Maybe you’re a visual artist and everything is a line or a colour or a brush stroke?

Maybe you’re a musician and everything is a note or a lyric or a strum or a beat?

Maybe you’re a dancer and everything is a step or a tap or a flow?

Maybe you’re a scientist or doctor or teacher or dog-walker – and everything is a pull to the love that makes the voices in your brain that make you you. The incredible collections of narrations that fuel the vessel that is YOU.

I hope so. I really do.

This writer’s brain. It’s intense. And, I’m working with it. It’s changing. And, I’m still here.

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