What we do affects the way we think. London cabbies who've done ' the knowledge' have an enlarged hippocampus as well as a store of implausible anecdotes. Regular exercise is supposed to improve the memory, though as I spend most of the day staring into a screen, I forget the details.
I'd love to believe that writing novels had some kind of positive impact on brain health. I do a lot of research, I keep a lot of ideas and plot threads in my head at once and yet, thus far, it seems if anything to have made me stupider.
I could have been a contender, a mistress of the universe: I had an MBA from a good school, a highly paid job with a blue chip international company, good prospects, big hair and a navy Valentino suit with subtle, but not negligible shoulder padding. What the hell happened?
I want to make it clear I have a very privileged life so I'm not complaining, nor am I really regretting that 'N M Browne: writer' parted company with 'Miss Nicky Matthews: marketing executive' a long time ago. But sometimes the shade of that other sharper, smarter woman, steps across from the road I didn't take and peers over my shoulder. I fear she shudders a little - at my rather less healthy bank balance, the deterioration of my sartorial standards and the general decline in my administrative abilities. Miss Nicky Matthews was a recovering perfectionist, prepared to work as many hours as it took to get the job done. She had ambition and energy and a functioning brain. N M Browne, well, let's just say she's let some things go. She can still work hard, but a lot of the work is imaginative, if not down right imaginary and is largely invisible even to a trained observer. She still has ambition, sure, but it is of a much modified and less strident kind. Her brain still functions: she can spot a writing problem within a paragraph, but I don't think she should ever work in an office or handle heavy machinery.
This was brought home to me yesterday when, remembering I was meeting with my crit group tomorrow, I thought I'd just check the time we'd agreed. I have a diary - I don't always use it, but I have one and on the day in question I was pleased to see that I had made an entry in not entirely illegible writing: take that Miss Nicky Matthews- not so hopeless after all!
I squinted at it, found my glasses, put on my glasses and then took another look. There, under the entry for Friday, 23rd February, at some point I had carefully written 'Friday.' Not who I was meeting, not where or what time - just 'Friday' under the entry labelled 'Friday.' Brilliant.
What we do affects the way we think, so I think it might be time to do something else. Maybe I should enrol on another course, learn a new skill, or maybe just write a book about time travel which requires scrupulous attention to the
details of time and place and diary planning, a lot of work on diary planning...