Good question, now that I think about it.
The fact is, I never confuse characters or forget their names. Ditto with plot lines. I can recite the sequence of events for each story without batting an eye. I can even recall snippets of dialogue and narrative, word for word, from each story.
I had never really thought about it before, until my cousin asked the question. How is this possible when I confuse nearly everything else in my life on occasion? I often have a hard time recalling the names of people I've known forever. I forget where I put my purse. In no other area of my life do I have the kind of instant recall and memory I do with my writing. So, this begs the question -- is there a special on and off memory switch in a writer's head that only works when their thoughts turn to their stories? It probably sounds silly, but there are lots of other things that have been discovered about the functioning of the human mind that are far stranger.
I've been giving some thought to this and other things since the other day over on Sia McKye's blog when Magdalena Scott told me I was doing something she called transcendental well-filling. (She was kidding, but it made me stop and think and I'll save my thoughts on that for another post.) Right now I'm curious to know if other writers have selective recall with their stories like I've described in the above paragraph. If so, please tell me about it. I came to the conclusion long ago that we're wired differently than non-writers, otherwise we wouldn't have character voices and imagery constantly playing in our heads. And I still wonder what occupies the minds of non-writers during those quiet times when they're not talking to someone, watching tv or reading. What do they think about when they're alone in the car on a long stretch of highway?
Anyway, I think it might be interesting to note all the peculiarities associated with the writer's thinking processes as opposed to non-writers. Heck, I think the psychiatric community should do a study. What do you think? And if such a thing has already been done, please point me to it. I find this subject far more fascinating than I probably should.