Late night. A single candle burns in a garret. A young(ish) woman sits alone at a wooden table, kneading her frozen fingers. She sighs, and from a distance comes the faintest sound of a bell ringing. The candle flickers. This is because she has sighed again. She is doing an awful lot of sighing (it’s melodramatic, and fits in well with her surroundings). Suddenly, the candle burns brighter and the bell rings out, crisp and clear.
Me: Hello? Are you there? Please? Hello?
My Brain: Yeah. Howryeh.
Me: Oh, thank heavens. I thought you were never going to answer.
My Brain: Well, for a while there I wasn’t sure I was going to either.
Me: It’s just that I’m in a bit of a bind.
My Brain: I know, yeah. You’re sighing a lot.
Me: It’s getting really late, you see, and I have no blog post for tomorrow –
My Brain: The world won’t end if you miss one week, you know.
Me: But I always post once a week.
My Brain: You and your routine. You know you’ve been eating the exact same thing for breakfast for far too long now? I’d be going mental, only there are at least some bodily functions I still get to play around with whenever I see fit.
Me: Don’t I know it. When I’m on planes, mostly.
My Brain: Lookit. Can’t you see I’m tired? This morning I wrote you a whole scene to try out that narrative voice you want for the new novel. That took ages, because you wouldn’t let me use pronouns properly. Then I had to write that work thing, which bored me rigid.
Me: I know, and I’m very grateful, but if you give me just one itty bitty blog post for tomorrow, then I’ll leave you alone for a WHOLE WEEK!
My Brain: You’re so full of shit. Last week I gave you a skit on historical fiction, but you still made me give you another post for your writing.ie column on Friday. I was properly cheesed off at that, let me tell you.
Me: I can see you need to get a few things off your, um, chest.
My Brain: A few things? Are you for real? Who was the one who turned into a news junkie, and ended up giving me the concentration abilities of a constipated goldfish?
My Brain: What about when you diversified from hard news into empty content aggregators full of misleading clickbait, which resulted in me scrolling through acres of dirt in order to find so-called nuggets which also consisted coincidentally, but not surprisingly, of dirt? And don’t even get me started on social media.
Me: [swallowing] I feel bad.
My Brain: You should. I remember a time when you and I were good mates. We had a laugh, didn’t we? Staying up until 4am during exam season, hyped up on sugar and caffeine, while you fed me piles of data and information which I dutifully and solidly spat back at you in the exam hall. We were a team, Tara. A TEAM.
Me: [crying softly] I remember.
My Brain: And remember those long days in libraries, you in a frenzy of last-minute paper-based research, me saving your bacon at the final hour with something which was really quite shallow, yet managed to appear astute in ways which would somehow fool even cynical college lecturers?
Me: [sobbing dramatically] I remember.
My Brain: Remember when we used to stare at spreadsheets for hours, working the kinks out of long broken formulas? Remember that? When you used to allow me to do the same thing until it was done, even if it took all day?
Me: I remember. Oh, My Brain, I never stopped loving you, even though that sounds kind of egotistical when you think about it.
My Brain: Are you some kind of sadist?
Me: I don’t think so. At least, not last time I looked.
My Brain: You fried me, you know that? Your lack of focus has left me in tatters! Why would you do that to somebody you loved? Why would you fry them?
Me: [whispering] I don’t know.
My Brain: Speak up, girl!
Me: [slightly louder] I don’t know what happened. I just looked at the internet and noticed it had a lot of, um, stuff. And then I just – I couldn’t stop.
My Brain: Then you went and did that thing last month.
Me: Oh God.
My Brain: Remember that book I wrote you before Christmas? Or are you so fickle now that you’ve even forgotten that?
Me: [mumbling] No, I remember.
My Brain: As I recall, I was given strict instructions to work on that in March, to make it into something other than a shitty first draft. And then what did you do?
Me: [still mumbling] I had another idea.
My Brain: You had another idea, got all excited, and forced me to start on it. While I was also supposed to be working on the blog, several essays, and not one, but two short stories. You’ve been taking me out for walks every single day, forcing me to think about characters and story arcs, for what I might say is quite an ambitious project.
Me: I couldn’t help it. Even you thought it was a bloody great idea!
My Brain: Well, would you please just let me WORK ON IT THEN? Instead of pulling me in fifteen different directions? You are aware that just this weekend, in a haze of alcohol, you told someone you were writing that feature film?
My Brain: So I made a decision yesterday, while you were having your hangover.
Me: Sounds ominous.
My Brain: I think we should take a break.
Me: Don’t you dare say it’s not me, it’s you.
My Brain: I just need some space. To think.
Me: You’re going somewhere with book heroin, aren’t you.
My Brain: And I’m taking your eyes to see other people.
Me: You know, I much preferred talking to my arse. It’s a lot nicer than you.
My Brain: Ah, I get that all the time.
Note: Before my brain decided to stage an industrial relations dispute, I did a more conventional piece over on writing.ie last Friday on how to write a guaranteed blockbuster. Just in case you’re feeling a bit bewildered.