A memorable post

I've just started writing a short story for a competition, but aside from the usual performance anxiety, there's something else that concerns me - whether or not the judges are going to remember reading it. Can you remember any details of the last book you read?

I came across an article that talks about evidence suggesting that most of us can’t recall the contents, title, author, or even the existence of a book that we read a month ago. The article makes a good point - why bother reading books if we can’t remember their contents for very long?

 The writer of the article asks a neuroscientist/ literature major whether it would have made any differece if he hadn't read the books that he had. She says that reading books does alter how we think, by strengthening different mental processes and creating neural pathways in the brain. We store information that, in turn, is used in our decision-making processes, without realising. “You are a sum of it all”, she says.

Part of the reason I read is so that I can hopefully take what I learn and apply it to my own writing. I've often wondered how I sometimes manage to pleasantly surprise myself when I read something  I've written. Now I know it's because I don't remember learning what I know, and don't consciously apply it. 

I can vividly remember reading Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl. I can't remember the names of any of the other characters, or any exact details of the book. I remember the haunted feeling I had for some time after reading it, though. I'm pretty sure that some of the sense of perspective I have is because of reading that book. 

I guess that this can be interpreted as the brain's ability to cope - remembering things that will be practically useful in the future, but forgetting unhelpful things, such as minor details about a book. Remembering everything would be impossible, or almost. There is an extremely rare brain disorder, where sufferers' memories work in overdrive, remembering every detail of their lives, which one sufferer understandably describes as a burden.

I guess the same can be said for life in general. The memories of our past experiences help shape our future selves  - the decisions we make and how we make them are a product of nature, nurture and what our brains have learnt from past experience (and books we've read).

I don't know if the judges' brains will take anything from my short story - but at least the pressure's off to think of good names for the characters. Say hello to Christopher Cockshit and Minnie Balls!

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