When you think of an apple, how do you think of it? I don’t mean positively or negatively or what kind of apple or even its size or color, although all of those things may play into your thought. I mean by what actual method do you think of it? Do you see an image of an apple? Do you summon up the abstract concept of an apple? Or do you think the word “apple”?
Or maybe you think in some other form I’ve not encountered. Myself, when I think of apples (which I don’t do all that often) I think the word. Apple. Not as black letters, but the way the word sounds. All my thoughts occur in words. My brain doesn’t hold images the way some brains do. Which can be sad when I want to conjure up a memory of someone’s face, or a particular beautiful sunset, or even a fictional setting for a story. I try and try, but all I see is a fuzzy blur of color at best. I simply cannot think a sharp, visual image.
Much more rarely I’ll try to think in abstract concepts. To just think, without words; to sense and feel without the need to form it all into sounds and specific meanings, but I can’t. I try, and nothing comes.
When I think, I think in words.
Imagine your favorite movie featuring a voiceover narration. A voice from nowhere tells you what’s happening, backstory, what people think, what they feel. That’s my life. Except there’s often more than one track of thought happening at once, and it’s nowhere near that linear; jumping around and twisting and turning like an arrhythmic EKG. Not always, though. When I’m focused, it’s a more steady stream of words, like the text of a book, telling the story of my actions. When I’m angry or depressed it becomes more chaotic and jumbled, but still words, so many words. And then there are those times, just before I wake up in the morning, or when I’m quietly laying my head on my boyfriend’s shoulder, or when I’m playing piano, when the words fade away and my mind is left in peace.
Then those times end, and it’s back to the endless stream of words.
Essentially, as a writer, I never stop writing. Sometimes I’m writing words about other peoplewith a pencil or on my keyboard, words about a story I found somewhere, a story I came up with, a story I heard and want to relate creatively. But sometimes I’m writing my own story in my mind. Not writing the story, really. The story is there. It’s what happens around me. It’s what I do. It’s what I see and hear and feel. But the words. Taking the information and translating it into neverending sentences, into the narration on the page of my existence.
And I wonder, is it so for all writers? Do filmmakers and artists think in images? Do philosophers and scientists think in concepts? Or are there painters and doctors out there who are writers on the inside, always thinking words, never ceasing their mental translation?
But all I know is my own mind. And that is full of words. Words like shadow. And purple. And strain. And tapping. And water. And sunbeam.
And sometimes, apple.
Published on 24 March, 2016. Last updated on