Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nutbuckets and Neuroses

by KAK

“Favorite” and “Neurosis” are not terms a sane person would mush together. I don’t recall which of my fellow Word Whores came up with this gem of a topic, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only nutter on the blog.

 I might be the only nutbucket.

Allow me to regale you with how I have to reorder the sugar packets at the table so the labels all face the same direction. Splenda sorted from Sweet & Low, Sugar in the Raw placed before regular granulated sugar. Little blue notches pointed up. Gods help my dining partner if we’re at breakfast joint that has jelly cups. Oh yes, there will be flavor sorting and alphabetization. 

It’s not a need for order that drives me to do it.

It’s a need for control. More precisely, it’s my civilized reaction to an uncontrollable need to escape. Public dining is pure hell for me. I can’t get up and leave when my brain decides it has had enough of being trapped, confined. Organizing the stuff on the table is my only available means of distraction. You’d think that stimulating conversation would rein in my neurosis. Tragically, it all becomes din behind the ringing in my ears.


Don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s me. No. Really. It is me. I can’t always help it when the mind goes. Sometimes, it likes to drag the body along with it. That’s when Public gets oogey. But when mind leaves body alone, well, now that’s when the anxiety and the obsession become creative paydirt.

It’s why I’m a 5,000-Feet Plotter.

The loose outline employing the GMC (Goals, Motivations, Conflicts) keeps chapters, or episodes, linked. The protagonist’s goal shapes the walls of the restaurant. Conflict is delivered on china at unexpected times, and there’s always the offer for more…at a price. Dialogue flows to the beat of conflict. The neurosis I loathe in real life becomes the motivation that propels the action. It builds from mild discomfort to violent desperation that explodes in resolution.

It’s great in fiction.
Total nutbucket in real life.

What about you? Do you have a behavior that works against you in public, but works for you in your creative endeavors?


  1. You'd never survive in Scotland. They never bring the check. My behavior? I always think everyone is talking to me. Oddly they often aren't. Like now for example.

  2. I often call myself a decisophobe because I can't decide where to have dinner if we're out. I almost blogged about that for this week, but after interviewing my nearest and dearest, they all said I wasn't actually phobic about it, as in I didn't FEAR the decision or have qualms about being responsible for choosing a terrible venue, I just really don't care. And I'm not unable to decide what the characters should do. So yeah, that works /against/ me in public venues when, say, my fella doesn't know where /he/ wants to go and he expects me to decide. Its frustrating, I know, but to me it doesn't matter because regardless of what it is, it'll be poop tomorrow.

  3. Gretchen and Linda - you both crack me up. KAK, I'm perfectly willing to vote for you as biggest nutbucket!

  4. Gretchen, you'd find in a corner booth wrapped around a bottle of Drambuie numbing my neurosis!

    Linda, love the distinction that it's not a fear of making the decision, it's just not giving a rat's ass.

    Jeffe, ballot box is by the door. ~tthhhppp~

  5. Humor. Is that behavior? Anyway, I crack myself up...which is a problem when I'm in public talking with people who have no idea if I'm joking or not. It isn't that I have a sophisticated sense of humor either. I can (and will) laugh at everything. The looks I get from people are "What was so funny about that?" or "I don't get it" or even worse "Has she taken her medication today?"

    In writing, I can throw my characters in the situations I picture so clearly in my head and it becomes funny - I hope - rather than try explaining it to someone who thinks I'm out of my gourd. "I have no idea what this woman is thinking, but someone should really direct her to the nearest shrink." Yeah...now I think I'll mosey on to think up some more insane situations to put my characters through.

  6. I'm terrified of people in real life. I can chit chat with you all the live long day safe behind a screen (comp, texting via phone...), but you show up in person and I will be a shaking mess. As a military wife I'm suppose to be out there, in the middle of everything, making other military wife friends. Yeah, about that. I've been here almost a year and met exactly ONE person. I like her! She's not scary. Everyone else is.

    At Dani - Gourd? LOL, makes me think of Piers Anthony's Xanth stuff. Hypnogourd

  7. Danica, I drive my BiL insane because I'll just start giggling. Riding in the car, caulking a bathroom, wandering a hardware store. Random giggling. You'd think, after 20 years of this, he'd stop asking, but "What?!?" still flies out of his mouth. Of course, trying to explain it just makes it worse.

    D.F. -- As an Army Brat, I loved relocating every few years 'cause by the time people figured out my neuroses, it was time to move. (But seriously, the commissary is totally scary on every post/base)

  8. Holy crap, KAK. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. A neurosis I *don't* have! I didn't think there was one! ;) I'm kidding! I do have this thing about pepper. I like pepper. Lots and lots of pepper. If I can see the surface of my food, I don't have enough pepper. Well. We all know that restaurants put pepper into shakers with holes too small to actually let pepper through. So I unscrew the cap and sprinkle pepper to my heart's content while people at surrounding tables blink and try to pretend not to stare in horror.

  9. Public places can be a huuuuge energy drain...avoiding traffic, finding a parking place, fighting through masses of people, standing in line. It's just exhausting. I know that some people find that stuff to be energizing, but not me.

    That's why I traditionally avoid places like malls around holiday time. I would rather gnaw my arm off than go shopping in December. I suppose that counts as a publicly-observable neurosis?

  10. Marcella, glad I could make you feel better about yourself! ~snort~ Though, I am making the mental note that should I revert to my pubescent-self and loosen the pepper cap ... you would actually be grateful and not annoyed.

    Laura, I feel verklempt just by your description of over-populated chaos. And yes, strolling the mall during the holidays with a bloody stump counts as publicly observable defeat by a neurosis.

  11. @DF - OMG. It's probably been like 20 years since I read my last Xanth novel, but I totally remember the hypnogourds. LOL The whole concept freaked me out.

    I don't mind hanging out in public so much or going out to eat, although, like Linda, often I just don't care where we go.