Creativity and the Importance of Shiny Things

Day Three without internet. We think that the problem might be that the last guy to fix it, a descendent of B. S. Johnson, routed the line through the dog door. Thank God, Panera, McDonald’s, and Beechmont Toyota all have WiFi, but still, ARGH. I told Mollie I was going crazy without the net and she said, “Why? You don’t need it to write, do you?” And I do because when I think of something while I’m writing, anything at random, I want to go check it, to see it, to ask somebody about it. I have to go and find out. Which makes me feel guilty because obviously it would be better to just concentrate on writing the book which is so grossly past deadline I’m having trouble sleeping at night. Then I read an article in Scientific American Mind, and it all became clear and the guilt disappeared.

The article was “The Unleashed Mind” by Shelly Carson (Scientific American Mind, May/June 2011, pgs 22-29) and it talked about several aspects of creativity that I’d read about before including the ties to schizotypal personality, but the part that really grabbed me this time was her theory that many creative people have cognitive disinhibition, which is academese for the “Oooooh, Something Shiny” problem that plagues many writers. Only it turns out, it’s not a problem, it’s one of the reasons we’re creative (and disorganized and inefficient and, as Carson politely puts it, “odd”).

Cognitive disinhibition, Carson says, is

“the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival. We are all equipped with mental filters that hide most of the processing that goes on in our brains behind the scenes. So many signals come in through our sensory organs, for example, that if we paid attention to all of them we would be overwhelmed . . . . Thanks to cognitive filters, most of this input never reaches conscious awareness.”

Unless your mental filters develop holes. Then you end up with all kinds of trash in your thought process, images jumbled together, contrasting ideas overlapping, new relationships between unrelated things forming and tumbling through your head. You’re thinking about something or talking to somebody and something shiny drifts by and you’re caught, watching the connections form, your train of thought switched to another track. If you’re driving or talking to a boss who finds this annoying, it can be bad (that survival thing), but as far as creativity goes, it’s excellent. Everything’s invited to the party in your head, so some pretty amazing things stagger out at the end of the night. The fact that your brain doesn’t filter out the irrelevant means that you can make new relevancies, go places people with functioning filters can’t go. (Of course they can finish conversations and drive without missing highway exits; everything’s a trade-off.)

So there it is, the reason that being without internet while I try to write fiction is making me INSANE: My access to shiny things has been kneecapped, and that’s stifling my creativity. And also limiting my access to Talking Points Memo and Gawker and Ravelry and my own damn blog, but mostly, it’s cutting off the Shiny and inhibiting my cognitive disinhibition.

I really, really, really need my internet, although the food here at Panera is excellent, so there’s that. Back at you tomorrow from some undisclosed location. Until then, embrace the shiny.

115 thoughts on “Creativity and the Importance of Shiny Things

  1. “Everything’s invited to the party in your head, so some pretty amazing things stagger out at the end of the night.”

    This is me! Or is it: This is I? Hmmm, ok, this describes me. There… Better. Now off to look it up in Bryson. See, shiny…

    0
  2. Nothing in Bryson. Never mind, this is Argh. Somebody will step in to help me. Its just it reminds me of Tamora Pierce where she has the Duke of Naxen correct Alanna’s grammar to “my brother and me” 😀 Subversive? Maybe. Fun for grammar (and spelling) police like myself.

    0
  3. OMG, this explains so much. I can be in a conversation and listen to someone say something which then sends me into mental hopscotch. Internally, I’ll jump half a dozen different ways and exit far removed from the original topic. I’m the only one who knows that all the places I traveled were connected in some way. Makes sense to me, but takes some explaining to others.

    0
    1. You’re Pinky from Pinky and the brain. There was one episode where we followed Pinky’s thought process as Brain described his plot for that night’s plan to take over the world. Something Brain said triggered Pinky’s thought process and we get to see why he answered “I think so Brain, but how are we going to find tutus big enough for elephants” when Brain asked “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

      0
      1. Funny thing is, I’m completely capable of staying on track and focused which is good or I’d be a total flop at my job. When I’m in casual conversation with friends and “let my mind wander”, the journey begins!

        0
    2. OMG, Mary Stella! Exactly what happens to me! I’ve even been known to start telling someone something and have to stop in the middle to assure them, “This will connect, I promise”! Sometimes it does, sometimes it only connects in my own head…

      0
  4. This is my Dear Daughter 13! Her thought processes have forever been a mystery to me. And, she’s all kinds of creative. She can do her verions of a collage or an outline or a box chart. But, a linear process . . . do A, then B, then C and so on until done . . . well, she just “doesn’t get that”.

    0
  5. Do physical objects act as stand-ins when informational shiny things are hard to come by? Your collages seem to be so helpful — I mean, they inspire ME and I’m not even writing those books. Maybe if you pack a small emergency totebag of objects that relate to current or future parts of the book you’re working on, or just things that symbolize the kind of people your major characters are, it could act as a crutch to get you past the Internet desert patches that will inevitably crop up just when they are least helpful.

    Oh! Or you could put out a call to the Argh board and ask for submission of random interesting objects to be mailed to some PO box. Then you could see if they would relate to anything you’re wrestling with! The Emergency Shiny Airlift?

    0
  6. Everything’s invited to the party in your head, so some pretty amazing things stagger out at the end of the night.

    LOL! Wonderful image!

    I do this all the time. I go off on tangents. In a conversation with someone, between one sentence and the next that they are saying, my mind has an entire other conversation so that when I respond, I’m responding to the conversation inside my head, not the outer one, which many people find confusing. I ought to just train people to watch my eyes for when I go off for a moment.

    I’ve always said that I live on a slight tangent to the plane that most people live on. I am now validated!

    Sorry your internet is still out. At least you can go to Panera, but then you are out of your comfort area with your food and your piles of stuff and your dogs and the kids (out of school yet?) that all contribute to your creativity. If this internet thing threatens to go on for a long time, you may consider adding a tethering option to your iPhone so you can get onto the internet thru your phone, or buying an internet modem or hotspot device (up to 5 devices supported, so yay for more people being able to get online), but you have to sign a 2-year agreement to get one for a decent price (at least, with Verizon). Just suggestions.

    0
  7. That is the best justification for goofing off I’ve ever read. [I am totally using that the next time I’m supposed to be writing and my husband wonders why I’m knee deep in home decorating sites instead.]

    0
  8. Ha! Validation at last for my behavior. Glad to hear I’m not alone. Hang in there with your internet issues and hope to see you in NYC.

    0
  9. I’ve had this diagnoses for a LONG LONG time! For me it’s called Bipolar, but generally I call it: me being me! I have constant word salad coming out of my mouth (none of it nutritious at all) especially when I’m stressed or if it’s hot out, which right now is both. Embrace it! Go with it, nd watch your brain go past. Once you realize that it’s happening, it’ll be alright!

    0
  10. Hear, hear.

    At my job right now, I have ONE THING to work on. All day. 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. My actual cool work got taken away, and I do some tiny dribbly cleanup bits here and there (not much in the summer), so I have NOTHING to interrupt or lighten up my day for the foreseeable future. DEAR GOD I’M BORED WITH ONLY ONE THING TO DO and nothing to bounce off of.

    I also hate writing with no Internet to check stuff on. Very annoying to have to do when you’re trying to write on a train or go to some cafe where their Internet isn’t working or whatever.

    0
    1. Hey Jennifer, I feel your pain! If I had only one thing to work on I’m pretty sure I’d end up on some strange crime spree. Like stealing all the pencils and fashioning them into the Space Needle.

      0
  11. And here I go, NOT talking about creativity, but the solution to the problem. Next time, buy an Android based phone, because some are wifi enabled (you become your own hot spot) and other can be tethered; you use your phone as your modem. Neither of these is available with an iPhone.

    I spent several happy hours on the road to Tucson using Mr. SD’s phone as my wifi and surfed on my netbook for a hundred miles when there was nothing else to do.

    In other words, “You should have bought a squirrel.”

    0
    1. You can access the internet sans wifi with an iPhone. And I *think* it’s possible to get tethering. I go away in my head when the IT folks start explaining things so I’m fuzzy on the details, but a bunch of boss types traded in Blackberries for iPhones a year or so ago and there was something about extra charges for a data whatsit that was included in basic data thingie for the Blackberry. All of which I took to mean that they could get it, but it would cost extra which the company wouldn’t cover.

      Anyway, I love SAM. My nephew recently smashed is face into the asphalt (lesson learned: do not wear flip flops while riding a bike) and needed distraction that didn’t involve having to open his eyes much, so I got him some audio editions. He’s an info junkie so I think he’ll enjoy that.

      I don’t know if I have cognitive whosis. If I’m engaged in what I’m doing I can slog away for hours; if not , SQUIRREL!. But I think of myself as being pretty linear with intermittent creative spurts.

      But good luck with the BS Johnson rerouting (through the dog door? really?)

      0
      1. Almost everyone I know tethers from the iphone, most by jailbreaking. You can even do it all officially — it’s a contract change with AT&T in the US (and I think you lose the unlimited plan if you already have it). Of course, it’s more enlightened across the pond, where it’s allowed by default.

        Personally, though, the solution is a 3G iPad with a cellular data plan.

        0
  12. Hmmm? So that’s my problem. I have an unleashed mind. Yippee!

    I do know I have to make lists to survive. Without my lists I’m flitting around admiring stuff, sprinkling fairy dust, and generally getting in other peoples way. My lists keep me on the straight and narrow, and I have to force myself to “unlist” when I go into writer mode. Control freak *cough, splutter, cough, cough.*

    Hope you get your net back soon. Oh, and did you happen to see the repeat of Sixty Minutes on Sunday? It was about superior autobiographical memory. Those people recall every event of every day of their lives. Sheesh.

    0
    1. Robena, would you want to? Remember every event of every day of your life? I think not so much!
      I love having a diagnosis, too–unleashed mind–it so totally works!

      0
    2. YES! Lists, lists, lists…love my lists! (We’re not control freaks. No, no, no! We’re just ‘Organinzed’! uh huh, yep…umm)

      0
  13. This MAY explain why I fear digging through piles of fat, stinky books on topics for which I only need ONE fact for my story. I have always feared I will retain entire chapters and reams of irrelevant stuff in my search for the one shiny nugget. I am NOT lazy. I am NOT. I am just too much a sponge and too easily overwhelmed. Though I’m not sure discovering my universal oddity is any better than being lazy. But it means a little something that this is part my creative process and I am not alone. Which is fine too, being all alone, I’m just saying. 🙂
    -Camille

    0
  14. Yep. I completely understand. Instead I’ve always called it “swiss cheese brain”. I like “shiny things” much better.

    BTW… have the chocolate cookies at Panera. YUM! I’m drooling just thinking about them.

    0
  15. Someone else said this, but oh my God, this really does explain so much! I have the attention span of a five-year-old, and I’m easily distracted by shiny things or nagging questions when I’m writing.

    I’ll write a sentence and then think, “I wonder where that phrase came from?” Or, do they really have tornadoes in that part of the country? Do pine trees grow in that part of New England? What is the meaning of this character’s name? And then I’m off to Google, a hobo sack on my back as I hit the road to find answers to all my completely irrelevant questions.

    I’m so OCD, I can’t write without having access to the internet because it drives me CRAZY when I can’t check something that’s nagging at me, even if it’s just needing to know a bunch of synonyms for “amazing.” (And yes, I do have a thesaurus on the shelf six inches to my right.)

    It doesn’t make me less nuts, but it’s nice to know I’m in good company.

    0
  16. I’m all to familiar with the “Oooooh, Something Shiny” factor. I am relieved to hear that it’s actually a good thing. Although, I’ve secretly suspected this all along. I’m a singer and the arranger/pianist I’m currently working with always builds time into our rehearsals where we have a cup of tea, take a walk, and just chat about whatever. It would seem to be unrelated to the actual work we’re trying to accomplish but sometimes it is exactly in those moments when we discussing something seemingly off topic that we have our best ideas.

    Of course, I should add I’m having one of those shiny moments right now. Reading and commenting on your post when I have a blog post of my own to finish!

    Thanks for a lovely and inspiring distraction.

    0
  17. Holy Cow. There’s a definition for me? What do you know.

    I just tell people I have a creative mind. I don’t think linearly, but in some kind of spider web thing. I also jump from the beginning to the end and then hop scotch back to the beginning. It’s all good.

    Of course I’ve still have my internet so it’s easy for me to say that.

    0
  18. …since you do live in the woods, you could just get a satellite card (i.e. verizon or att 3g) and have internet ALWAYS> which, by the way, how come you cant access search engines/blogs/etc from your ipad through att 3g?

    0
  19. We had no internet at work for 3 *hours* this morning and it was bad. (Well, not that bad, but lord, it wasn’t good…)

    I read somewhere that babies are born largely without filters, but with the ability to form filters. The things that engage us form stronger pathways in our brain and the things that don’t engage us fade away as the resources are consumed in the stronger links. But to do that, one needs to prioritize whatever is being focused on. One theory about autism is that the prioritization is askew, so the links don’t form “properly” which is why it only shows up at toddler age. As far as “proper” formation, most babies prioritize looking at faces. Temple Grandin once explained that to many folks with autism, looking at the lightswitch on the wall behind someone can be as equally compelling as looking at someone’s face. I figure that there must be a spectrum in there where what one individual finds compelling someone else is completely oblivious to it (like I don’t notice most pro sports, for instance). Anyway, I think that the pathways your brain prioritizes and therefore strengthens will necessarily inform what you’re interested in.

    It makes sense to me that if someone has a non-standard prioritization scheme guiding their thoughts, that the result would be creative and potentially disorganized, clutt…SQUIRREL!

    0
    1. Yes, this makes sense. And those of us who think much more in pictures than in words naturally make rather different kinds of associations anyway throughout our lives. A visual link that is perfectly logical in pictures may not make nearly as much apparent sense when ‘translated’ into words. For example, if you say ‘the River Seine’ to many people, they will probably immediately think ‘Paris’, and associate from there with things Parisian and French. But my uncontrollable brain may conjure up a remembered vista of the Seine that could link me visually to a stretch of the Danube in Budapest, or the Rhine in Bonn, and my mind would be off and wandering in Hungary or Germany rather than France in about 3 nanoseconds. It isn’t illogical: it is simply an association based on related pictures rather than words. But to a verbal thinker, the idea that the River Seine might remind me of the Roman site at Gorsium in Hungary rather than somewhere in France would seem plain weird. My mind hasn’t hopped at random, or been distracted; it has simply followed a different, less obvious, path.

      Temple Grandin connects the ‘thinking in pictures’ characteristic with autism, too, because she is both a visual thinker and autistic, but surely all non-verbal thinking modes (pictures, sounds, scents, emotions) are simply a primitive baseline of cognitive process that humans have in common with other animals. We then ‘upload’ those thoughts, which for many people are so fleeting that they are barely aware of them, into verbal language, and once turned into words, the nature of the associations becomes word-based.

      I blame my visual brain for the fact that, though I thoroughly enjoy words and language, and care about them, I am hopeless at word-games of any sort — anagrams, puns and so forth. This is because the sounds of words, or the arrangement of their letters in written form, make little impression on me; I leap straight to their meaning, as far as possible in visual form.

      I think there is still a huge amount to do in understanding these matters, and better understanding would make a lot of difference to educational methods. For example, the widespread assumption that children can learn things by chanting them (arithmetical tables, Latin declensions, etc.) is based on the idea that repetitive sounds and rhythms are easy to remember. Never worked for me: I had to see the printed page, and then commit its appearance to memory. I can still do my Latin and Greek declensions, but I am actually reading them off the relevant pages of Kennedy’s Latin Primer and Abbot and Mansfield’s Greek grammar, respectively, images of which are stored amongst the seething clutter of my mind.

      Can clutter seethe? There is a picture of a bubbling cauldron in my mind, with all sorts of half-remembered things surfacing and then sinking again…

      0
      1. I read very fast, and part of it is that I don’t actually read the letters that often, I read the patterns of the words. I, too, am very visual in my thinking. So words have shape and patterns, not just letters.

        0
        1. I do that too, Skye! They tell me that’s why I cant’s spell. Well that, and the fact I’m too lazy to sit around memorizing the spellings of words.

          0
  20. This is the very reason that I have my beloved set the child controls on the computer so that I cannot get on the Internet until noon. I can check email on the phone or on the iPad, but I try not to do it. I didn’t have internet on my work computer for two years because my computer was so old, and it was a Very Very Very Good Thing.

    Mostly, we don’t need to know something RIGHT THIS MINUTE, and a piece of writing eventually requires entire focus on itself.

    Not to make you feel guilty or anything.

    0
    1. I agree with Barbara. I’m probably going to get shot for saying this but I do believe you wrote and published books before the internet craze, Jenny, so you are demonstrably quite creative without it.

      Of course I say all this, but I’m still slogging through my damned dissertation and trying to convince myself that I won’t break out into hives without internet access so I can check up on bibliographic citations (and Argh Ink and Regretsy and DListed and Failbook….). Yes, I am the pot calling all the kettle black. No worries, I can see myself out.

      0
  21. Ummm… ok so does this theory work in reverse too? Like can I blame the fact that I am disugtingly organized (my friends love to tease me on this flaw) as the reason that I can’t write? That the reason I can’t get the stories in my head to paper is that I have too many filters so that every time I try to write, by the time I am done filtering everything out this is not barf inducing, I am left with basically a blank page?

    0
    1. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this was true. A lot of creating has to do with making the critics in your head shut up long enough to get a pile of stuff out there, in whatever medium you prefer, before editing it ruthlessly into something solid, interesting and reasonable.

      I work with fabric, so my process may or may not be parallel. I tend to lean into randomness (ripped strips of fabric, rough cut shapes) to get my process started. Once I have a base, I can apply things and stitch into it to refine it onto something I’m pleased with. Editing implies cutting, which I don’t generally do, but I do stitch over things until it is much clearer where the edges are.

      0
      1. I do cut, some, but mostly I add stitching and/or other (more, different) fabric in the editing phase. (I was really sorry when my muse stopped sending story ideas and started attacking me with fabric. Typing is so much easier….)

        0
  22. Well, I’d like to think this is my problem, but actually lack of internet just shows up how much I use it for procrastination normally. I get so much more done when its unavailable!

    0
  23. I’ve always said I lack the right filters. Who knew that would be a good thing?

    Panera Bread is the devil’s playground. It starts with fresh lemonade and a Smokehouse Turkey Panini and ends with five cookies, two cinnamon rolls and a loaf of bread. I am not allowed in there.

    0
  24. Oh, this so makes sense of my life. It used to baffle my boss, particularly given that I worked alongside someone who was INSANELY organised and focused, but he put up with it because I came up with the big-picture, shiny stuff that anyone in their right mind would run away from, screaming, before even attempting. I just thought I’d had this great idea, and wouldn’t it be cool if I… and the next thing you know, everything’s covered in glitter and crepe paper and we have a window display that’s getting all the attention that any shop owner could want. And I made some weird jumps of logic that often paid off (not always, but often enough).

    0
  25. My family refers to this as seeing chickens. There once was a Tshirt that said something about “everyone says I have ADD they just don’t underst…OH, look, a chicken!” We will be in the middle of a conversation and someone will say “ohh, chicken!” and go off on a tangent.

    0
      1. yup. And post Up (the movie) my kids have levels of squirrel:
        1. ooh, squirrel
        2. shiny squirrel
        3. gold plated squirrel

        0
  26. my DH is very kind and tells me I “think out of the box” I do come up with some different ways of doing things. Hope you get connected soon

    0
  27. Ravelry is fantastic.

    my variant of this is a concentrate away, rather than concentrate on thing. I need foreground stimulus to distract part of my brain so that I can use the rest of it to focus away from the stimulus onto whatever it is that I’m doing. I’m told that from the outside, it looks like I spend a long time doing nothing and then there is a brief productivity event that exceeds expectation. there’s such long term pay off to accepting how one’s brain works and going with it instead of feeling punk about being apparently random and distractable – I’m really grateful to my parents for teaching me how to use it and not get frustrated or feel bad about myself, lo those many years ago.

    0
      1. They talked about learning and thinking styles a really lot from very early in my life. They were (and my mom still is) really interested in those things by temperament and inclination and ultimately (for my dad) by profession. probably has to do with how they both came from homes that were (in extremely different ways) pretty destructive, and how they consciously planned their respective ways out and – they both had this weird unusualish thing of being very self-aware without being self-aggrandizing or self-centered. it was like they each fought in their own separate arenas for their identities and skills independent of their families, but they didn’t think it made them special.

        My dad was getting a graduate degree in education when I was a wee tot and really taken with Sylvia Ashton-Warner’s work with the Maori, and my elementary school (oh, god how I date myself with this) was open education, and one of my teachers went to summerhill to train while A.S. Neill was still alive, and there was a lot of conversation at home and at school about how people learn and how people think and why it’s important to know those things about yourself.

        It took me a while to respond because I wanted to double check with my brother and sister that I’m not mis-remembering how early in our lives those conversations were going on directly with us, and my sister came back with a tattered piece of paper which is dated from when I was 4 years old and it’s a drawing by me of my brain, my brain thinking about a fish, my brain thinking about a cookie and my brain asleep. and my brother produced my set of story cards and some dated story sequences which go back to when I was between 3 – 5.

        Lucky, lucky, lucky am I with my family, even when they drive me skittish mad with their ways.

        0
  28. Nothing like a pen full of chickens. One will go over there and all will follow. One starts scratching and all will follow. One lays an egg, then there are several in the same nest.

    Got a dozen eggs today.

    0
  29. Aha. I do that.

    As in, writing a freelance article to make money for the property taxes (okay I’d have to write a zillion articles..) and I notice I still have green nail polish around my cuticles so I swerve off to a mental tangent about should I just paint over it? Or should I brave the nail polish remover whose smell makes me puke cause I’m pregnant?

    And then…I think of all the normal stuff that makes me puke cause i’m pregnant.

    And then I think that guy who played the scientist in Kate and Leopold but who had repulsive fingernails in Wolverine should really get more leading roles where he isn’t creeepy….and the beat goes on.

    0
    1. Yay! Someone else who notices replusive fingernails in movies! Granted, it’s the reason I couldn’t get into Aragorn – I needed him to shower a lot earlier in the series. The grunge look is one thing, but actually being grungy longer than necessary? eew. I, myself will be camping this weekend, but I won’t be venturing into civilized society in the interim.

      0
  30. Ms. Crusie, may I suggest the same solution to your internet woes that the roommie and I chose? (Hey, that rhymes!) We are switching from Cinti Bell to Time Warner. If it is available at Squalor on the River I highly reccommend it. I mean seriously, who wants interwebs advertised by Nick Lachey?

    0
  31. love it! Which I can do because I think exactly the same way, I thought I was the only one!

    0
  32. Feeling a little Internet withdrawal, are we?
    hmph. In my day, not only did we have to walk uphill to school through snow a mile deep, but we actually had to go without any Internet at all… for decades at a time.

    On the radio this morning, they were talking about how using the Internet has changed the way people’s brains work. The radio people called it “popcorn mind.” Apparently, people who’ve been exposed to a lot of Internetting can’t concentrate well on one thing for any length of time.
    Does this mean people are becoming more creative?
    I’ve noticed a generation attention gap between people of my own age, i.e. almost 50 (which is to say quite young, damn it), and people of my mother’s generation. I can turn on the television and have a program on in the background while I’m doing something else, but my mother or her sister can either a)watch the television or b)carry on some other activity.

    0
    1. I don’t know that it is generational. My mom and grandma could have tv on as a background, and often would when people were over. But I had to ask them to turn it off because the sound, even on low, and the light and movement out of the corner of my eye, compelled me more toward the tv than the conversation. Maybe that’s “oooh, shiny!” thinking.

      0
      1. I have a similar problem. For me, however, it’s not “oooh, shiny!” it’s “omg sensory overload!”. It’s not generational as my siblings don’t have the same reaction.

        0
        1. In our house it has more to do with general focusing… or some kind of brain divide. (Parallel processing, right Skye?) Daniel has like five screens, radios, programs, all going at once. I KNOW he can’t actually be paying attention to ALL of them. On the other hand, when something is on, I watch it and listen to it and focus on it. If TWO things are going, one of them will suffer.
          We are the same generation, he’s a year older than I am, so I don’t think it’s it. My mother, as it happens, can’t seem to find the OFF button on her TV, it is ALWAYS on. Loudly.

          0
    2. I used to be able to split my concentration, watching tv and reading at the same time; but I can’t anymore. And if I’m focused on either, it annoys the heck out of me to have my attention pulled in another direction. But I think that’s a different animal from people who have to have computers or the tv on at all times.

      0
  33. Jenny-Have the repairman check every inch of the cable-rodents chewed our cable in several spots! Even the repairman was surprised at this.

    0
  34. All of the above, and we make much more interesting conversationalists, but I have way too many hobbies and would probably rather learn one than do one for very long. All that being so, might we know what Jenny Cruisie’s Ravelry name is?

    0
  35. AgTigress – I have never had anyone explain how I think better than what you said about visual thinking. I’m exactly the same way – thinking in pictures rather than words. My mind can also make the jump in pictures from, say, the words “Jackson Hole Wyoming” to everything I’ve seen in the western US (road trips, gotta love them).

    Thank you for putting in an explanation that is understandable!

    0
    1. Lou, it took me a long time to work out the differences between my thinking/association processes and those of some other people, but an old friend of mine was a very verbal thinker, and at one time we discussed this stuff a lot. I remember an odd phrase I picked up on in a newspaper article (this was back in about 1968), where the journalist had written, ‘one can’t see a picture of a table without thinking of the word “table”‘. I snorted at this, because I can, easily. If the picture is there, the word is superfluous. But I can’t say the word ‘table’ (or table in French, or Tisch, tavola or bord, come to that) without seeing a picture of one in my mind. My friend and I found we were completely different in this respect. Makes sense that she was a lawyer and I an archaeologist.

      In more recent years, I discussed the same topic with my late dear friend Anne (Talpianna), who was another highly verbal thinker, arising from my pathetic failure to notice or understand most of her brilliant, witty puns. A few of them didn’t work for me even when explained, because one needed to pronounce the words in American, but mostly I would miss them merely because my mental associations usually by-pass sound, and go straight to meaning and visualisation in pictures.

      I am not (I think) insensitive to words and language, though I have a bit of trouble with poetry, and I love many kinds of music (and can think music in my head as well as the next person). It is just that pictures dominate my processing of meaning and communication.

      0
  36. Here’s a shiny thing for you: wireless network card. Works damn near everywhere (but I don’t know the terrain where you live). It’s a thing of beauty. Also there’s some voodoo and pixie dust tied up with making your smartphone a wifi hotspot. It’s been explained to me but all I remember is a series of clicks and whistles.

    0
    1. I wouldn’t recommend wireless network cards unless you need it for a short road trip. The ones I’ve used were slower than a slug in a coma. You could call up a site and then go and get yourself some coffee and return and it still wasn’t ready. Those were German ones, of course. Maybe y’all have better ones over there.

      0
  37. Some might call it cognitive disinhibition. I prefer to think of it as always keeping in mind the big picture. When you look at the big picture, you can see the greater need of, well, the shiny things. For future use. In other places.

    It’s like that folktale where the unpretentious suitor on the way to the castle with all the other fine men keeps stopping to pick up odd things like a dead bird, an old nail, a piece of string, etc. The others are all making fun of him, but in the end he wins the princess’s hand by using all these strange (shiny) things.

    Of course, I couldn’t remember the details of the story, so I had to, you know, look it up on the internet in order to finish writing my comment. So, there! The internet is VITAL to writing.

    0
  38. Soooooo, basically your situation and mind set could be summed up with several slightly amended Buffy Quotes:

    (No internet,) “What, they were all out of boils and blinding torment?” — Angel and Buffy

    “Bad thing? I was without internet naked. “Bad thing” doesn’t cover it.” — Giles, Xander and Willow

    “So you’re saying these vampires went to all this hassle for internet a basic decoder ring?”
    “Actually, yes, I suppose I am.” — Buffy and Giles

    “You know, I always say that a day without internet an autopsy is like a day without sunshine.” — Buffy

    I have no internet “I haven’t processed everything yet. My brain isn’t really functioning on the higher levels. It’s pretty much ‘Fire bad. Tree pretty.'” — Buffy

    “If someone could just wake me when the internet is working it’s time to go to college, that’d be great.” — Buffy

    “Wow, I had knowledge!”……..When we had the internet — Buffy

    And because your week of “Little House on the Prairie without internet” has probably felt like light years, I imagine that when it is finally restored the following conversation is a possibility:

    Giles/aka Jenny: “Does this look familiar to either of you?”
    Buffy/aka Lani: “Yeah, sure. It looks like the internet a book.”
    Xander/aka Alastair: “I knew that one.”

    I’ve had my 18 month old grandson here for several days, he’s been sick with an ear infection. Because of this, I’m internet deprived as well, feeling a bit Fire Bad Tree Pretty too and needed some humor in my day………….you were the recipient of this. I look forward to seeing you back amongst the 21st century

    0
  39. This explains why when I set my sights on writing I suddenly want to clean my room. On the other hand when I set my sights on cleaning my room I suddenly want to write.
    And since I definitely make weird connections amongst things, others sometimes find it difficult to follow my ‘logic.’

    0
    1. Every time I have to start a new technical manual, I suddenly become totally and absolutely convinced of the necessity for me to clean my room/house/neighborhood. I mean, it’s just obvious. Plus, it’s a lot easier than facing the BWP (Blank White Page).

      0
  40. There are holes in my cognitive filters ! That explains a lot. I do not write but when I get on the ‘net to catch up on stuff I have to do I am taken away by Shinies. Like puffer sharks. Before www I had a much longer attention span, my cognitive filters were not so full of holes. Age has nothing to do with it. 🙂 When I read I have to have silence-no Shinies allowed.

    0
  41. If there were a LIKE button, I would be clicking on it right now. Sorry about the demise of your internet. I work at a library, and we once had a massive server crash, the Great Server Crash of 2010, which meant no patron records, no catalog, and for a while, no internet for three days.

    It was the longest three days of our lives.

    I remember life before access to the world wide web was the norm. But I wouldn’t want to go back there.

    0
  42. Jenny, many FGBV’s to you. OMG I feel your pain. My internet went out on June 21 and we just got it back a few hours ago. Major withdrawal (the kids are laughing their butts off and calling mom a hypocrite after all the technology bitching I do). The Tour de France is coming and I was missing all the prerace coverage (don’t talk to me in July). And I couldn’t get to you for my daily smile! I sincerely hope you get your internet back soon! (It took total equipment replacement by the supplier for us!)

    AgTigress – I second Lou re the wonderful explanation. Life is so much better in pictures!

    0
  43. so this is pretty much completely irrelevant, but – I have synaesthesia, and I’m curious – do any of y’all have it and if you do, do you find that changing the “ink” color when you’re typing can help you focus? I find it be very helpful, if I can find the right color. (yes. another reason it looks like I’m doing nothing is that I am really searching the color picker for the exact right color to bridge my mood and the thing I have to do. love the lovely color picker, love love love)

    0
    1. I do not have synesthesia, but it’s a good bet I have some form of Irlen’s syndrome where my eyes tend to jump around instead of read. (Did I learn about that here? Probably. And thanks.) Certainly, which colors I’m reading on has a significant effect on how easily I can read something. For instance, black on white is my least favorite. Jenny’s blog colors are actually pretty good for me to read.

      And instead of working on fixing my chart last week (now that I have to fix them and the default is no longer good enough thanks to the “upgrades” to Excel), I plotted out exactly what percentages of grey were used in their default series of greys, which looked wrong to me because they are moronic – the top 4 are all but indistingushable from each other so 25% of the offerings are useless. Then I replotted them all with a regular interval (0-255 for the same number of options and each one (but the top 2) is recognisable as distinct from its neighbor. Then I started listing what I’d make the default colors for charts and which background (instead of their lousy default choices) and then it was time to go home. So I don’t hear color or taste sound (although sometimes it seems like it when standing in front of a speaker) but I did spend an awful lot of time last week putzing with my custom colors to make a reference for future use. So at least in that you’re not alone.

      0
  44. Would everyone please pray for my kitty Beano? Maybe throw in some FGBV too? He’s getting a blood transfusion tonight and if he survives the night, he might make it. We think he ingested poison.

    Thanks everyone.

    0
    1. So sorry to hear that Lola – many prayers, FGBV’s, positive waves, and healing kitty hugs your way!

      0
    2. Oh, Lola, how awful. I know how long these nights can last. Many, many FGBV’s for Beano and warm hugs for you. I pray the night ends well for you both. Hugs again for you and Beano.

      0
  45. Except the internet gives us open-ended never-ending access to The Shiny. All the writers who came before the internet at least had some reasonable limits set on the number of things that could distract them…

    0
  46. Thanks everyone for the good vibes. He survived the night and is doing better. He’s not out of the woods yet, still more tests to run, but I more optimistic that he’ll make it.

    Those FGBV’s are powerful stuff. 🙂

    0
    1. I am so glad the night is over and things are looking up. Will keep sending FGBV’S and prayers your way. Hang in there.

      0
  47. More feline good vibes being transmitted.
    And where is Jenny? Is she still cut off, do you think.

    0
  48. The FGBV’S and prayers worked! Beano’s home. The vet said she was surprised at the rapid recovery and really didn’t think the cat would make it. He’s still on some meds, but she thinks he’ll make a full recovery. So thanks everyone for your good healthy energies for my baby. 🙂

    0
  49. Lola, that is such good news! Did the vet establish the cause of his illness?
    Here’s to many more healthy years of life for Beano! 😀

    0
  50. Thanks everyone. He’s been eating all morning, so that’s a good sign. We’re spoiling him.

    The vet didn’t think it was poison, but I’m not so sure. She’s still running blood work and we’ll know later in the week. She thinks it might be a blood infection that cats get from fleas. She said that fleas are becoming resistant to all the usual drops and pesticides like sevin dust. Beano and the rest of the animals get once a month flea drops so if it’s a blood infection we’ll have to switch to the newer flea control product.

    0
  51. Thinking about our beloved pets and what we do because we love them, you don’t think Jenny’s absence is due to Lyle? I surely hope not. Then again, my greatest means of exercise is due to leaping to often erroneous conclusions.

    0
  52. I started making flat files of random thoughts and what springs from them. I have one for cooking that I put in things like “Saffron and Hot Chili Marshmallows.” Now that sounds really weird, but it also had a kind of seductive strangeness that made me feel like I had to figure out how to use them, had to find them a niche in which saffron and chili and sugar all went together. It’s up to 200 pages. The whole file, not just the marshmallows. 😉
    I do the same with visuals I have that might some day work in something I’m writing. Every once in a while I get a whole scene or a passage of dialog in my head that reminds me of one of them. I go back and fish it out and, voila! I have a scene. Also works for those strange things that you think, “weird, but possibly useful.” Grin.
    Since I’ve been doing that, it’s really boosted my creativity, and I almost never lose one of those great ideas you forget if you don’t write down.

    0
    1. Guess I should have also said that this keeps me from obsessing over the little shiny things – they’re tucked away where I can go find them again – my magpie’s cache, so I don’t have to carry them around in my head. I have room for my actual work that way.

      Ooh, totally off topic, does anyone know of some animal (raccoon, possum, squirrel, fox are my most probable choices) that leave “gifts” in place of what they take away? I feed a colony of feral cats, and their food is stolen by all of the above at one time or another. But for a while there, when I went to put the food out in the morning, I’d find things like hunks of metal, or short pieces of plastic pipe, and once, bless their hearts, a turd, where the previous day’s food had been Hoovered up. The feeding spot is up on a ledge, so it has to be an animal that can jump up about 4 feet, or fly.

      0

Comments are closed.