Posted by: Harold Knight | 02/11/2011

If this be hypergraphia (or is it just “hyper?”), make the most of it.

Writing obsession/The Pillow Book

Writing obsession/The Pillow Book

So yesterday I wanted one of my colleagues to see what I’d written about Flannery O’Connor and mystery and all that—which I liked and thought was unusually logical for the way things come out of my mind when I have to write. But I didn’t want him to see my blog so I sent it to him in an email. I didn’t want him to see my blog because I’m not one of those scholars who meticulously does research and then plans out how to present an idea in scholarly language that no one but other scholars can understand and it gets “peer reviewed” (whatever that euphemism means) and published in some academic journal and you get tenure or famous whichever comes first—or, if you’re lucky, both.

Besides, what sane person would tell the world that he’s TLEptic (or at least a whole bunch of neurologists who don’t live inside my head seem to think so) and perhaps bipolar (the jury is definitely still out on that)? And my phone just rang and it’s a friend of mine of twenty-five years and I don’t really want to talk to anyone at this time of day when I need to write. Three people that I talk to every day know I’m up and not doing anything (they don’t understand how much this writing is not “not doing anything”), so this is the best time to call me. And sometimes I really don’t want to be bothered and I just don’t answer the phone. Then I get messages that I know are covering up being pissed off at me by pretending to be concerned that something is wrong and I’m not answering the phone. Sometimes I really don’t hear the phone and then I’m surprised when they tell me they called at 5:45 and I didn’t answer and I say I was right here—my land line is a foot from my computer—so there must be something wrong with the phone. I can’t be that absorbed in this.

What I do when I write is start writing and pretty soon I realize I have something on my mind and then I try to write about it. Usually that something is on my mind because I’ve been reading about it, and you ought to see the plethora of articles from databases I have saved on my desktop. They are supposed to be sorted out and the ones I never finished reading or that are boring and badly written are supposed to be deleted and the ones I want to save are supposed to be saved onto my Nook so I can read them when I want to and then get rid of them. But I figured out how to download them to my Nook and the next time I tried it, I couldn’t remember how, and I said to hell with it. Besides, I don’t know where I put the cable that goes from the computer to the Nook and I don’t want to be bothered.

The other thing I did about my blog yesterday was that I told a student in his conference that I wanted to send him something about O’Connor that he had touched upon in his essay, and I’m sure he would (unlike most students—unlike any other student I’ve conferenced with this semester—I’m just getting to know them) understand what I wrote. And then I ridiculously told him it was on my blog, and he said, “If I google your name and ‘blog’ will I find it?” and I said yes. I know last semester some of my students found my blog and the one about them (“Writing about the grotesque”) became somewhat popular reading among my students. And I hope that the student I inadvertently mentioned it to yesterday if he’s reading this will be discreet about it because there’s too much here over the course of the last two years that students really probably shouldn’t know about a professor. Or should they? I don’t have a clue. There are boundaries in the teacher/student relationship, but who knows for sure what they are?

So what I’m doing here is probably uncalled-for because it is too bizarre and personal for anyone to read, even my niece who said on Facebook yesterday after reading my blog, “brain hurts a little now, but in a good way.” I suppose everyone if they let themselves would write like this—but perhaps not. I’ve written this whole thing in about forty-five minutes with a break to get a second cup of coffee and answer the phone, and I’ll bet you can’t write that fast. But the kicker is that I started out with the paragraph below (I fixed the typos). That came out in about a second. Well, not quite. But I just thought it would be interesting to put up here a sample of the way my mind happens early in the morning when it’s writing before I wake up and my hands just catch up when I get here to the computer. Hypergraphia? How would I know. Weird? I think so. A problem? I used to think so, but now I just think it’s what it is and pretty funny some times.

Oh, and speaking of Facebook. Do you have any idea how obnoxious the limit of characters you can write in your “status” is? And do you realize I’ve been doing this since September 9, 2009? Almost daily.



The beginning today (4:48 AM):

I want to write about writing about how this happens for me every morning about the need to write and the constant wondering what will come out of my fingertips onto this damned machine which I really don’t like because Dell like iPhones and all of those things are made for people with much smaller hands than mine and they don’t seem to understand why it is so frustrating for an old guy like me that if you happen by mistake to strike some key or pair of keys what you are doing can disappear and some screen that asks you if you want to do so and so pops up and then you have no idea what the so and so is and you can’t get back to what you were doing and the next day when you try to open a word document the screen has this sidebar and it asks you which document you want to save because it has been auto saved and you want to pick the damned computer up and throw it against the wall because you already started that project over and saving the auto saved copy is pointless and why does Dell think this is a good way to build a computer anyway. And besides that there is no little light that tells you that you have accidentally hit caps lock and none of your passwords will work and finally after an hour of frustration well it’s not an hour it’s only 30 seconds but your blood pressure feels like it’s an hour you realize the caps lock is on and you never meant to push it and that’s pretty much a metaphor for life. You never meant to do it. And it’s cold in here because the fan is broken on my heat and they couldn’t come last night at ten when I called to fix it and they said they’d be here early today but they don’t know what early means.



  1. […] family photos to find a photo of my mother. As with most of my old writings (you can imagine how many documents are saved on my desktop, some posted, most not) the documents are named by subject […]



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