Monkey Mind


Holiday weekend. I’ve been working so hard for the last two months, I’m seriously considering taking the weekend off, including Monday. I look around at the veneer of dust on nearly everything, the piles of files and books, the new storage boxes yet to be assembled, and Monkey mind kicks in. You know the Monkey Mind. Natalie Goldberg describes it well in her interview in the most recent The Writer magazine: “Usually we live in yada yada yada. Whether you’re talking or in your own mind, it’s the constant patter.” It’s the part of your mind that distracts you, makes you feel guilty, criticizes you, jumps from one branch to another on the tree of your life.

Photo: Michael Nichols/National Geographic

Photo: Michael Nichols/National Geographic

Monkey mind has a useful side. My monkey mind is crazy organized. It can’t stand a mess or a mystery. It makes me a problem solver and has been crucial during crises. Long ago, when I was reading about Buddhism, I first discovered Monkey mind in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. The ordinary mind, or sem, is restless, projecting its energy outward, jumping from one thing to another, like a monkey jumping from one branch to another in a tree.  If you want to meditate, Monkey mind is a problem.  It’s the same thing, though, if I want to write.

My focus since publishing my novel has been on marketing, not writing. I have done some freelance writing and blogging, but haven’t been writing fiction. My imagination wants to play, however. She reminds me by popping ideas about book 2 into my mind which immediately responds, “No, not yet!  I need to finish all this marketing stuff!”  I need to clean.  I need to take photos of the things I want to sell online.  I need to clean out my files, throw out what I don’t need and store the rest.  And my imagination just comes back at my Monkey mind with more ideas for book 2.

I’m beginning to see a broader view of Evan Quinn.  I’m beginning to see book 2 as more pivotal than I had originally thought.  In each book of the pentalogy, Evan faces a challenge that he must overcome in order to learn and grow.  I’m also starting to see Sofia Karalis in a different light.  She truly needs to live up to her name.  I am also seeing Vasia as a stronger presence in Evan’s life, and the irony in certain situations that concern Vasia should not be lost on him.  But above all, Evan is even more a person to me, someone who’s flesh and blood, than ever before.

So, is it possible to ask my Monkey mind to organize my life in such a way that I can return to writing fiction sooner rather than later?  Do I need to cross off some of the tasks on my to-do list before I’ll feel comfortable returning to writing fiction?  I itch to work on book 2.  It doesn’t help that readers have begun asking when it will be published.

Credit: Mint.com

Credit: Mint.com

On the other hand, when I’m cleaning, I tend to get a lot of good thinking done, and my imagination plays and plays…..

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