Thursday, March 6, 2014

Left Brain/Right Brain

            In a pattern that defies nature and would no doubt baffle science, there is an odd wiring to my brain that I’ve come to accept as comical, if not downright delirious.
A creative at heart, I’ll be the first to tell you I prefer the right hemisphere of my brain to the left. Like a mother with a favorite child, I’ll not hide it. I confess. I do. The right, as science tells us is known as that side from which we create. The left, as I understand it, handles those opposite tasks required to exist in the material world: things like balancing checkbooks, organizing your planner…you know, the "left brain/linear” stuff.
I am blessed to have a life whereby I get paid for creating, however, as is with all of nature, the yin and yang must balance. When speaking on the subject of creativity, I remind folks that much as we creatives long for someone else to do the heavy mental lifting of things like…our books, our taxes, etc, truth be told, even a creative project is nowhere without a left brain to assist in bringing a concept to fruition. Let’s take for example, a new cookbook, designs for which are now on the drawing board here in my own life. From the creative standpoint, nothing fires my synapses like an idea coming through…(I’d love to take credit, but as I suspect every creative senses, we didn’t do it; we’re only here to spot it, weigh it, and get out of the way to allow the muse to do what muses do, but for the sake of this example let me walk you through how it works.)
I’m out in the garden…or inside cleaning dog bowls…in other words, I’m doing something mundane, which is why I love ironing and washing dishes, but I digress…Creative ideas come between the gaps of our linear thinking; trick is to grab ‘em when they appear and (my approach anyway) write them down.
A spark hits: I reach for a scrap of paper. (This is also my justification for why I leave so many scratch pads lying around everywhere, and a cup full of pens on almost every surface.) I’ll take down a thought; sketch an idea…and hopefully remember to put the paper in the stack where the other ideas are mounting.
With enough of a theme to get me going (the next cookbook for instance, is a gardening guide for growing the food, THEN creating it in a dish, i.e. a garden to table proposition culminating in ways to preserve the food left over, but again, I digress). Enough of these ideas start swirling and I’ll meet with my team to start mocking up the concept….But here is where the left half (linear) of brains enter in.
To meet with a team means I must consult the checkbook. After all, these are artists too, likewise fighting their own left brain resistance, but creatively open to working on something larger than themselves, as a matter of getting to create. Bottom line: checkbook checking is a left brain proposition. Do I have enough money right now to start a new project?
Next up? A schedule for production, which involves another set of cells stored in the left brain: the calendar, and mapping… the timeframe.
With budgets and calendars lining up, we toss in the third round of left brain elements…things like emailing, calling…i.e. setting up meetings to begin laying out said production…which is, again, all linear, all the time…(You’re starting to get the gist…)
On behalf of its right brain (creative) kid sister, the left hemisphere jumps into action and takes over for a period, after all, every book must have a page count, page dimensions (measurements for which I MUST have someone good at math)…In short, the creative process is a WHOLE brain proposition. So for as much as I’d like to abandon one hemisphere of my brain and put it up for adoption, I kinda have to keep the thing so as to protect its creative little sibling, the creative half.
I could go on and on with why left brain linear can’t be neglected (things like bidding out print jobs, shipping and distribution details, production schedules for delivery, etc…but again, I think you get the picture).
But where this comes back to amuse is when I have a task totally unrelated to a creative project. A real world task such as tax preparation for example, which is where this blog started before I took you down this creative roadmap to my head.
This week found me, as is often the case for creatives, in need of a deadline in order to get my act together and get out of floaty/creative land and back to the real world in order to do my patriotic duty. My bookkeeper gently reminds me that “business taxes come first” (something I swear I have a mental block for, which is why I have a bookkeeper). To me, this means pulling out the shoebox of receipts and the check registers and doing nothing more than tallying things with the help of a calculator no less (I mean, it’s not like I’m adding all this up by hand).
Edging far too close to said deadline for me to get things to her so that SHE can make the deadline, God graces me with a snow day…One FULL day I had not counted on to complete this otherwise mentally-torturing task. Hooray for small miracles, and what’s more-- I could not have driven out my driveway had I wanted to. I mean, God’s never sent a clearer signal.
In true ADD form, I head for the boxes, and when I do, I notice all the other boxes in a basement I’ve been neglecting for way too long by way of a Goodwill run, a yard sale or a torch. I’ll just stack one or two, I decide, after all, it is a mess and maybe allowing my thought processes a break before hunkering down will lend inspiration. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

So what do I do?
In a burst of SuperWoman drive and ambition, why I tackle that basement with a frenzy…a white tornado of organizational bliss, the likes of which I’ve been listening to self help books to get my mind around for two weeks now. I set aside books for McKay’s; knick-knacks for Goodwill; even leftover wood I bundle up to feed Thurman’s woodburning stove (after all, it is snowing the day I do this, so he probably will appreciate it).
In complete and utter justification of my irresponsible use of my own time, I conclude some 4 hours later that, no…This WAS a good use of my energy, (after all, look at the place! I can finally walk through it! It had to get done sometime, only perhaps… not this day).
It’s a pattern I’ve noticed for some time. I have fellow writers who have it too. A new project is to commence and an overwhelming urge to clean the desk (if not the whole house) overtakes. Something requiring nothing more than a butt to a chair, and I’m on steroids to get the laundry done.
I have no idea how this works by way of the wiring in my head, for surely there are synapses jumping the great abyss between my two mental hemispheres, but for reasons I shall never understand, but have finally come to accept, when I need to get focused on numbers or something insisting I start left brain first, get ready…cause something’s gonna get real tidy before the task commences!

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