My husband is really careful about his hands. Sometimes I give him a hard time about this, but, as a guitar player, it’s a valid concern. Anything that happens to his hands happens to his career. They break, it breaks. As failing to be concerned about things is probably the quality about myself that deserves the most concern, I’ve never before applied any similar reasoning to myself. Ninety percent of everything I do comes from my brain, so I don’t feel especially wary around hammers.

Then, after having a particularly difficult time transitioning from the holiday fog into January productivity this year, a horrifying thought occurred to me: What if I got permanently stuck in the fog? What if my brain didn’t shift back into critical thinking and creative expression mode? Anything can change the way a brain works – hormonal changes, chemical changes, injury, disease, simply aging – WHAT I IF STOP THINKING GOOD?

One of the many ways in which I can imagine my brain getting broken.
One of the many ways in which I can imagine my brain getting broken.

Would I know if it happened? If I started to produce substandard writing due to my brain functioning differently, would I be capable of knowing it? Or would editors just slowly start pulling until I don’t have any work left and I end up writing positive Amazon reviews in exchange for free toasters?

So the first thing I did to deal with this crisis was, obviously, start doing crossword puzzles. Because my grandparents are/were way into crossword puzzles and their brains are/were in great shape. I almost signed up for Lumosity too, but Mike convinced me that trying to buy reassurance that my brain is healthy is a sure way to confirm there was something wrong with my brain.

There is, of course, absolutely nothing I can buy or do that can guarantee my brain won’t ever break. And it really doesn’t matter that I’m a writer. If I was a plumber and broke my brain, I would be in an equally dire spot. Maybe even more dire, as there are a lot of things to bump your head on under sinks. So there’s that.

Regardless, I’ve finally decided that my fear of my brain breaking or dimming or fizzling out is simply a transition from one fear to another. My greatest fear used to be that I’d never become a writer. Then, that I’d never publish a book. Now, my disintegrating brain fear is really just this: what if don’t ever write anything better than I’ve already written? What if the next thing I write is terrible, and what if it’s the last thing I write?

Oh, did I mention I’m planning to start working on my next book this week? Maybe today? Maybe tomorrow? I don’t know which, because I can’t seem to get over the jitters of starting. I guess if this brain crisis serves any purpose at all, it could be to remind me that yes, my brain could break and it could end my writing career. But it’s not broken yet. So I’d better start today.

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