From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

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Encouraged by the success of her last guest post, Electra has decided to take over my blog once again. This time, she pokes fun at my (alleged) forgetfulness (I’ve already told you; stop encouraging her)!

So, allow me to present to you another guest post by Electra (and please read the following in a sweet female voice, with a hint of a French accent).

And don’t forget – For a few more days, The Power of Six will be on sale. Read seven short sci-fi stories for only 99c.

Are all Authors Forgetful?

Yes, I know this is such a cliché that you would never dare put a banal question like that in your books, but, honestly, it’s a legitimate one.  Followed by whether forgetfulness is a prerequisite for becoming a writer.  And, as a final one, if the sheer quantity of amnesia is a sign of an author’s writing skills.

Allow me to explain.

As you know, Nicholas writes.  A lot.  What you probably also know is that he has the memory of an amnesiac goldfish with Alzheimer’s (I think he has hinted at that in a few posts).  In other words, he forgets. A lot.

Let me offer some examples.

A few days ago, Nicholas returned from an errand.  He slipped into the room with a sheepish grin – instantly making me suspicious, since I know that look very well – and asked me in a very sweet voice if I remember how I had asked him to take the rubbish to the bin three days ago (note: the bin being up the road, if the bag is heavy we sometimes put it in the trunk of the car on our way out.)

You can probably see where the story is going.  Yes, Nicholas put the bag in his car, totally forgot about it, and didn’t move his car for three days. When he did… well, no need to explain. Actually, there may be a need to explain: the trash included fish, sitting on a bed of decomposing flowers, sprinkled with mouldy jam and drizzled with a few drops of soured milk.  You get the picture (I, on the other hand, got the smell).

Him being cheeky, he was telling me because he now needed to drive my car, as his was absolutely undriveable (new word here!). Not only that, but he also commented that had I not had fish that day, the garbage would not have been so stinky and we wouldn’t have had a problem. So, he argued, it was my mistake as much as his! Him forgetting the rubbish for three days in his car didn’t seem to be a problem.  That’s almost to be expected nowadays!

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Nicholas’ brain at work: “Ooh – ice cream!!”

To show you this is a recurring theme in our family, a couple of months ago I had given him a few things to take to our local church to give away to people in need.  He drove there four times, always coming back with the things still in his trunk.  His excuses were amazing: ‘but honey, I met this friend and we chatted for about an hour,’ or ‘but I brought ice cream’.  In the end, I grabbed the things, shoved them into my trunk and drove them over.

You can see a pattern emerging, right?  No wonder then that I’m wondering if all authors are forgetful.

I would even speculate that successful authors have to be absent-minded.  In fact, I can imagine the exams of a college writing course.

Writing 101: The Art of Forgetting

Sample Questions:

  • How long does it take to bake a pot roast?

Correct answer: I have never eaten a pot roast because I’m writing a book and I don’t pay attention to the pot roast cooking time.

Another good answer would be “as long as it takes to write the last chapter of my book”.

Wrong answer: about 2 hours.

  • What’s your car’s license plates?

Correct answer: Ah, let me call my wife/husband/friend/ DMV/neighbour

Wrong answer: the actual license plates (yes, Nicholas turns to me with a goofy smile every single time someone asks that)

  • What did you have yesterday for lunch?

Correct answer: Let me call my wife/husband/friend/colleague/local restaurant/neighbourhood deli to see if they remember

Wrong answer: chicken on a bed of Carnaroli rice, sprinkled with olives and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

  • Bonus question: what is your social security number?

Correct answer: Let me call my wife/husband/accountant/lawyer

Wrong answer: any correct sequence of 3 digits or more of your social security number.

Multitasking and Other Animals

You want another example? Nicholas multi-tasks, which is okay as long as one of the many tasks is not reading/writing/editing, because then, well, the rest of the tasks are quietly forgotten. So, it takes us about 2 hours to find the phone (usually swallowed whole by the sofa), another 30 minutes to locate misplaced socks (the cat has found them on its cushion and has instantly appropriated them), and the latest issue of the Economist is dozing off under a pile of new books, magazines and other things to be read, until rediscovered six months later (Nicholas was really excited the other day. He had just discovered that Germany had won the World Cup. In June. But his sports prowess will have to be the subject of a future post).

At this point, I have to mention something: guys, I know that multitasking is really tough for you.  Science has proven it and it’s very hard to defy science: you are great at visualizing shapes and mentally measuring distances, which comes in handy when we are buying houses or trying to see if the car fits in the parking space.  Women, on the other hand, are excellent at successful multitasking, which means we can talk on the phone with a client while at the same time telling you the bank account number –it happened this week, so I speak from experience.  Anyway, let’s just agree that you are genetically disadvantaged with multitasking, which makes it even worse when one of the tasks involves writing.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I, too, sometimes forget.  I have once (or twice, as a matter of fact) forgotten our house keys on the door (on the outside, obviously) and blissfully gone to bed.  The next morning, I woke up, got the dog and frantically looked for my keys.  The dog was throwing me desperate looks and begging jabs, while I was searching the whole house to find them.  I eventually opened the door, having decided that Nicholas must have done something with the keys –by which time the dog was seconds away from peeing in the house- only to find them on the door.  You should have seen  the grin on Nicholas’ face: utter satisfaction!  Thankfully, we were not robbed.

Anyway, to sum up my little rant, since Nicholas picked up writing, I have drawn four distinct conclusions:

  • Authors are forgetful, and we should get used to that.
  • Men don’t multitask successfully and they should get used to that.
  • If you’re a thief, don’t steal an author’s car. It won’t smell very nice.
  • You should, however, look for an authors’ home to rob. Even if the author hasn’t left a window open, his/her wife/husband is bound to have forgotten the keys on the door! Yes, it seems that forgetfulness can be contagious…