Daily Archives: October 2, 2013

Writers Have a Special Brain

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Kilian where are you???

Kilian where are you???

So just now I had a moment of sheer and utter panic, and I am sharing it with you because:

1. Everyone is fine and
2. Those of you who are writers can pass this onto non-writers so they understand us better.

My dear friend and editor Kilian was supposed to come and pick me up about 10:30 so we could go to Mary’s house for critique group at 11:00. She normally calls to let me know when she leaves her house—mostly because I’m always running late. So, no call. Hmmm. Maybe she is running late, or maybe she lost her phone again. I open the door to listen for her car.

10:40 I call her, no answer.

10:45 I check her Facebook—she hasn’t posted anything in twelve hours!

I look outside; what ifs start to whisper in my ear.

10:50 I call again, no answer. The what ifs get louder and I realize a key plot point, I don’t know where Kilian is staying. You see she is house sitting, and all I know are cross streets, major cross streets, not enough to go on.

I call Mary, who is calm for now, but my panic will spread like the flu through a daycare. We post a note on Facebook and see if anyone responds and each try calling her again.

Now you, as a rational person, might think I’m over reacting. However if this was a movie or a book you’d be yelling at the main character to check it out, and something is wrong.

“But Alica, this isn’t a book or a movie,” says a rational person who is no longer my friend.

In my head it is ALWAYS a book, not a movie because the book is always better. I am always prepared for people to burst into song, for dinosaurs to run down the street, for Thor to declare his undying love for me.

Alica Mckenna Johnson, Thor, true love

Art by marvelous Roland


“No, Thor, I mustn’t. I’m married.”

“Alica, I’ve tried to stay away but my body burns for you. My heart breaks every moment we’re apart.” He clasps my hand placing on his chest. I do my best to feel his breaking heart through those hot, firm, muscular pectorals.

Oh, um, sorry, anyway. . .

I have, at this point, imagined poor Kilian in a multitude of scenarios, waiting for someone to notice she is missing. Hoping a dear and true friend will notice her unusual behavior and rescue her.

The only clue we have is the couple she is house sitting for are part of her Mah Jongg group, at least I think they are. And her group is from her temple. But I don’t know what temple she goes to.

Alica Mckenna-Johnson, Mah Jongg, Kristen Shoemaker

Photo by Kristen Shoemaker

Facebook saves the day! Kilian was tagged in a photo reading Torah at Temple Emanu-El, and the temple has a Facebook page. Yes! Kilian, I’m on my way!

I call the temple and do my very best impression of a rational person. The lovely woman on the other end of the phone wants to wait an hour before calling the Mah Jongg group, does that seem reasonable? I say yes, because it does and it is, but my brain isn’t reasonable and I keep imagining Kilian hanging on for dear life waiting to be rescued!

I call my husband, who has put up with my crazy for 15 years. He is calm but understands my worry. Says it sounds like I’ve done what I can, but if I’m still worried, I could start calling hospitals.

I’d love to say I didn’t go that far. I’d love to pretend I was calm and rational and together enough to also be thinking, she could just have forgotten, maybe out with other friends having fun.

That would be a lie, I called them. No, Kilian, which means she could still be needing rescue!

Mary calls the Temple this time, the lovely lady has now been infected with my panic, but I’m sure a much milder strain, and agrees to start calling the Mah Jongg group.

And we wait. I suck at waiting. My brain goes a mile a minute, but I do my best.

Then Kilian calls. I want to cry with relief.

You see her phone was on vibrate and had been on a table when she lay down to nap, but was in the middle of the floor when she woke up—a clear sign some frantic, possibly deranged, person had been calling her repeatedly.
Kilian simply forgot to put the meeting in her calendar (the date had changed a few times in her defense and unlike me she has a social life). So Kilian was napping safely.

Not on the floor unable to move because a tiger had snuck into the house.

Photo by L E Carmichael

Photo by L E Carmichael


Aliens weren’t holding her hostage making her teach them proper grammar so they could blend in better and take over the world.

Kilian hadn’t been hiding from zombies in the closet, her phone on the other side.

No she was napping. I wonder if she was dreaming of weird buzzing insects from the incessant phone calls someone, not me, was making?

Anyway there is a look inside a writer’s brain. Scary, I know. But now hopefully you understand why we freak out when you’re late and forget to call. Or why we get upset when someone says something and we aren’t sure if it was a joke or a dig at us. Our brains create plots faster than the speed of light, and the more dramatic, the better.

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