Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[personal|writing] Choice or biochemical destiny?

Last night, [info]mlerules and I went to OMSI Science Pub, specifically a lecture entitled "Lust, Chocolate and Prairie Voles", about the biochemical basis of attraction, lust, love and commitment. It was a lot of fun, and I learned some interesting things. I'm always amazed at how much of what we think of as conscious behavior is influenced if not outright programmed by physiological and biochemical factors.

I sometimes wonder how many of the behaviors of successful authors are rooted in similar factors. I've often commented only partly in jest that I'm diagnosably hypergraphic as well as hypomaniac, not to mention scoring very high on ADHD self-assessments. I'm no clinician, and I've never asked my therapist or my doctor to comment formally on any of these conditions, but I certainly exhibit many of the traits of all three of them. Not to wretched excess — I don't write on the bedsheets with bodily fluids, for example — but I definitely have those tendencies.

And really, someone who hyperfocuses, writes obsessively, and is persistently overenergetic and self-confident would seem a natural fit for being a writer. My day jobbe also has a work pattern optimized to that cluster of behaviors. Throw in strong verbal facility and a powerful sense of social ease and you pretty much have me. And I've optimized my life's work around these behaviors.

So am I creature of my pathologies? Surely I am. Surely all of us are. But I do find myself wondering how deep the tendencies run. Could I have chosen to go into some quiet, meticulously detail-oriented field like accountancy? Could I succeed at an avocation where repetitive action is valued at a premium?

And does it matter, since I'm quite happy where I am in life? A few less pounds and a bit more money and my life would be ideal for me.

What about you? How does your personality and psychological profile fit what you do?

Tags: culture, personal, writing

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