That sentence is enough to make half the readers of this blog think I’m insane, and the other half think I’m possessed. Be that as it may, it’s the best way I know to explain the way I think.
Perhaps some folks think in pictures, or in musical phrases, or in conversations; I wouldn’t know. I do know that what’s going on in my mind most of the time is writing. Letters, essays, explanations, debates, short notes, long dissertations…almost continually. If you’re with me, and I seem distracted, or distant, or unusually quiet, it’s because Li’l Writer Guy has taken over more than his share of brain cycles. Sometimes I have to tell him quite firmly that it’s not his turn. When I can, however, I like to let him go on and on, because that’s the way I think best. I do have my share of inexpressible feelings, but generally if I want to understand something, I must put it into words. Sometimes Li’l Writer Guy’s output even makes it into print, a satisfying situation for both of us.
Okay, so it’s an unusual, but perhaps understandable, attempt to explain the way my brain works—but why “Li’l Writer Guy”? Primarily, I suppose, to prevent his thinking too much of himself. He rather likes to imagine he’s seated in some academic cloister, inhaling the intoxicating scents of polished wood, leather, and books old and new. On the table before him are the paraphernalia of his profession: stacks of books, pads of paper, writing implements, bookmarks, his laptop computer. Lost in thought, he stares out the window, but he’s not seeing the cityscape. Now and then he rises, and paces between the table and the stacks. At the end of the day, he reluctantly packs up, puts on his coat, and steps into the outside world, blinking owlishly and realizing dimly that time has not stopped for others as it has for him. (Any resemblance of Li’l Writer Guy’s fantasy land to the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library is not coincidental.) With all this pretentiousness, he needs to be reminded he’s an amateur, a dabbler, and a pretty ordinary human being.
But why “Li’l Writer Guy”? Do I have some unresolved sexual identity issues here? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been comfortable with the custom in English of using masculine words for both the specific (male) and the general (male or female). Feminist though I was in my early days (and in large measure still am), I never had trouble understanding that “man” doesn’t have to mean a male person any more than “duck” always excludes drakes. Or perhaps it reflects the dismal lack of literature with interesting female characters in my childhood reading: With a few notable exceptions, female characters were weak and silly; it was the boys who were intelligent, active, and adventurous. Since Li’l Writer Guy has an obvious weakness for books, of course he’d rather identify with the strong and lively characters.Most probably, as Dorothy Sayers says about her Lord Peter Wimsey character, he just introduced himself one day and I accepted him as he was. In any case, Li’l Writer Guy is rarely thinking about sex. Some would say this is sufficient proof he isn’t really male, but I won't stoop to such low stereotyping. Whether male or female is of little consequence: his sole identity is writer.