Writing About Writing: My Inner Narrator

I tried to explain it in a writing class once.

“I can be doing anything, walking down the street, maybe, and then this other part of me takes over. A different voice. And it’s narrating a story, or turning what I see into a story.”

The professor looked at me, puzzled. “You mean like, ‘She saw a brick building…’?”

I shook my head. “It’s not like a status update,” I insisted, and other people around me giggled a bit. “It’s a story. It’s being written in my mind.”

Ever since I was young, I can remember this feeling. Suddenly, I disappear, I recede back from the world around me. I am inside and this other voice, usually a third person voice that I am not a part of, takes over.  Sometimes I can almost see the things it is creating as paragraphs of text. Other times it is a long (but well punctuated) flow. The voice is not my voice. It is a voice far more self-assured and confident than mine. It is not an omniscient voice, but it is a voice that knows what is to be said and when it is to be said. It understands diction and dramatic pause and it makes symbols shine in all their sublime meaning. It is my inner narrator. My inner writer.

The feeling of it is wonderful. It is similar, to me, to the experience of taking a test (tests are very easy for me). You study and you study and you study relevant information, and then, when the time comes, you step back and let your knowledge take the foreground. It rises up  This is my narrator. It is always present, observing and filing things away, and then it is in control, making something of its files and stores of information.

The narrator isn’t always there when I write. And sometimes the narrator comes out when I don’t have the opportunity to sit down and write. But I’ve learned that when the narrator starts talking, it’s time to grab a pen.

I suppose this sounds a little crazy. This voice in my head who isn’t exactly me. Maybe it is crazy. It’s well documented that Brian Wilson, the musical genius behind the intricate melodies of the Beach Boys’ music, hears songs fully formed inside his mind. He also hears voices, ones that are often harsh and horrible, along with that music. His mind creates beautiful art, but it also torments him endlessly. There have been times when the stories in my head have turned against me. Have become crushing paranoia with support drawn from the  sights and memories that the narrator keeps in store. These are terrible times, but never have they made me wish that I had a different mind, or that the voice of my inner narrator would leave me.

There have also been times when stories have come to me complete. When I realize that the narrator writes my dreams. When I wake up, searching for a pen, and hoping to create something from the tangled beauty that’s been playing across my mind.

Maybe the reason that I couldn’t explain my inner narrator when I tried in that writing class is because not everyone has one. But I’m sure I can’t be the only one who has one.

The other day, the narrator came out. I suppose I looked different than I had a moment before, because my partner, a wonderful song writer, asked me what was going on in my mind.

“Nothing,” I said quickly. Then, because we are very honest with each other, I said, “I was writing inside my mind.”

“Awesome,” he said, and smiled at me.


About thebaffledkingcomposing

Pamela DiFrancesco is a writer with a community college degree in journalism, a fancy art school degree in fiction and a penchant for community organizing. A native of Pennsylvania coal country, Pamela lives in Astoria, Queens, writes, and does whatever else it takes to pay the bills. In the past, Pamela has worked for newspapers and taught children journalism in an after-school program. Pamela's fiction can be found on the web at Cezanne's Carrot and Monkeybicycle, in print in The Carolina Quarterly (who nominated "The Chuck Berry Tape Massacre" for the Best American Mystery Writing anthology) and forthcoming in The New Ohio Review. When not writing, Pamela practices acts of love and kindness in hopes of a radically different world, and is preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse through acts of badassery.
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