I’m going to say something that a guy who writes for a living should never say. I’m a word criminal, and this post is not meant to serve as an excuse, but an explanation. I don’t see words or sentences the same way most people do. I mean that in a literal sense (and yes Weird Al, I do mean literal). I don’t know if it’s dyslexia or the result of head trauma (I’ve had two diagnosed concussions in my life, and God knows how many undiagnosed ones). I suppose it could even be permanent brain dings I created enjoying controlled substances while making questionable choices as a young American idiot. I see words on a page or screen in a different way than other people. I don’t know how to explain it really other than to say, looking at what I’m writing right now, I see the first word I wrote in this post. And I see the second, the third, etc. I see them all at once. It’s like a 3D jumble that’s going in and out of focus, and I’m constantly putting the words back in their proper places. There are a lot of times I don’t put the puzzle back together correctly. Sometimes when I’m speaking I’ll see the words before they come out of my mouth, and I’ll pull back from saying something because the word doesn’t look right to me. That’s essentially why I’ve been labeled ‘quiet’ by nearly everyone who doesn’t know me. I don’t like to speak with strangers because I have no confidence that what I’m saying makes any sense when I’m talking to them. When I do talk to people I’ve just met, I will go over the conversations I had with them in my head as I lay in bed at night trying to figure out where I made a fool of myself.
I went to a place to get tested not long ago. I spent four hours going through various exercises and brain teasers, but instead of getting answers I got a sales pitch to sign up for brain retraining programs. To this day I have no idea what they learned about me.
Given this fact, writing seems like the last thing I would ever choose to do. It’s an entire endeavor devoted to words. What the hell am I doing writing books? This is going to sound weird, but I don’t see words when I write. I see people talking and doing things. I see events unfolding. I see towns and forests and mountains. While it takes words to record what I see, it doesn’t take words to create what I see. It’s relaxing and meditative to observe a universe outside of this one and not worry about the words involved. The worry and embarrassment comes during rewrites and even post-publication. The puzzle is very difficult for me to piece together at times.
So, there you have it. Confessions of a professional word criminal. I write this for all the others out there committing word crimes. I feel your pain.
BTW – This post was read and reread at least 20 times, and I have no confidence that I chose the right wording or put the puzzle together in the correct order.