Verbal Brain Vs. Non-Verbal Brain Vs. Workload

Tuesday was insane. Yesterday was also fairly insane, although not quite the brain cracking madness that Tuesday was. Tuesday I have a vague memory of finishing one cover, starting another, doing two spot illos for a horror game, finishing the obscenely complicated background for one of these splash illos for the animation studio, and finishing up a page of Digger. Yesterday, by comparison, I only did a spot illo, another animation background, and most of a cover involving a dragon statue surrounded by neon signs (for a sourcebook on Hong Kong gangs.) Practically restful by comparison.

The funny thing is that when I get that busy (and I’m still that busy, for that matter–this is the clinging-to-coffee-cup before storm, right here) the non-verbal chunk of my brain that handles painting takes over the show. Normally, when I’m painting, I gradually hand the reins over the non-verbal half, which is only really noticeable internally because I stop thinking in words. And I almost always think in words. I can practically hear the mental relays clicking over when someone addresses me while I’m painting, and I have to go collar my verbal brain from whatever it’s doing in the back of my skull and shove it at the conversation. But once I stop painting, usually the guard changes, and the far more dominant verbal brain takes over again and continues steering me through the arcade game of life, while the painting brain presumably flops on the mental couch and says “Unngh.”

This is not particularly scientific, and since they’ve largely debunked the left-brain-right-brain thing for anyone with a functional corpus callosum, I figure it’s most of an internal classification than any actual representation of what’s goin’ on upstairs. But that’s how it feels.

Thing is, when I’m this busy, the guard never changes–the painter is running the show, because we don’t have TIME for cranial gymnastics–I’m never out of painting long enough for a solid mental switchover. Which is occasionally a little creepy, because while I can generally hear myself think, I can’t if there aren’t any words involved–things get rather vague, and I have this obnoxious sense of being cut out of the loop in my own head. And while I tend to make mental lists of work to be done–ie. “Okay, first we finish up this cover, then let’s do some of those spot illos, then let’s work on the background for that thing, then let’s do the lettering on Digger…” those are all lists made of words. The painting brain never thinks “Hey, I’ll do this next,” it just pulls the neccessary file up and starts attacking it. It’s perfectly competent, mind you, but it doesn’t bother to fill out the proper mental paperwork.

The downside of this, of course, is that generally if James addresses me while I’m painting, I tend to blink stupidly and go “Uh…ah…uh…what?” (I don’t think “What?” is actually a word sometimes, but one of the default stammer noises, inserted to buy time while my verbal brain is kicked awake and evicted from the couch.) And being this busy, I’m that dazed more or less all the time, unless I’m runnign an errand or something and have had enough time to get mentally settled again. If I’m plunged into a painting, I sometimes get slightly dazed when someone pulls me out, presumably while the parts of my thought process are squeezing past each other in the mental aisles, the one going “Excuse me, excuse me, let me just get by you here,” and the other making vague apologetic hand gestures.

Not having firsthand experience with being crazy, (she said, with a straight face) I don’t think this is neccessarily similiar, but I can see how someone who was pretty internally absorbed could develop elaborate mental structures around the process, and think themselves into a reasonable facsimile of lunacy. But meh, who has time?

And now, back to painting…

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