Let me explain. When I'm deep in a writing project, working out the details of a story can be all-consuming. So much so that tasks in the life outside my head get sacrificed. Like errands. And housework. Feeding the dog. And, once, I'm ashamed to admit, picking up the kids. I've stepped into traffic because I was writing dialogue in my thoughts. I've looked directly at people I recognize on the street and never have it register because a plot point was taking up all the space in my brain. Compartmentalizing is not my strong point.
And when I'm forced to interact with anyone after hours of writing? Forget about it. I'm sure there's a sizable contingency of moms in my daughter's class who think I'm brain addled. Conversations frequently go like this:
Normal person: "Hi, Wendy. What's going on?"
Me: (Blank stare.) I really either need to kill that character off or give him more of a purpose. I like him, though. Okay. I'll go with purpose. Wait, someone's giving me a funny look. Wake up. "Oh. What? Hi."
NP: "Um. I said, 'What's going on?' You know. 'How are you?'"
Me: "Yes. Sorry. Er, I'm okay." But what can he do? That's like a whole other subplot, and I'm probably long on subplots anyway. Hello? Why is she still looking at me? I guess I need to say something. "Oh. And how've you been?"
NP: "Fine." (Looks around for polite escape.)
This is not good.
So. I'm focusing on interpersonal skills this fall. You know, that talent that used to come so easily? I was the girl in school who had to be moved all around the classroom for chatting. A teacher once even remarked, "I'd move you next to the wall, but you'd probably talk to that, too."
I joined a writing group (in person!) I'm becoming more involved in community service (with people!) I signed up as a tour guide at my kids' school (45 whole minutes of talking per tour!)
Hopefully I can become a people-person again. At least, when I need to be.
How about you? Do you often live inside your head?