Archive for July, 2012

The Mountains in the Distance

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 | The Writing Life | No Comments

Sometimes we have to take a moment, even in the midst of  a revision, to step out of the Cave and look at the mountains in the distance. They are our goal, some of which we will never reach. The heights of brilliant prose, of beautiful storytelling, of magic that enchants us as well as our readers, of illusion that leads to truth. Those mountains lie in front of us, ready to be climbed. I’ll scale some of them. And others, I never will. Still, as I bend my back to this work, as I bend the contours of my mind to follow another story into the Cave, into the Rabbit Hole of imagination, I think of those mountains. Sometimes just thinking of them makes the book I’m working on better.

Dreams and Sitting in the Dark

Monday, July 16th, 2012 | The Writing Life | 4 Comments

A few months ago, I dreamed that I was sitting with an angel talking about my life. She wasn’t just any angel, but a personal friend. My life was sort of her case work, the way a social worker might meet with one of her case files. We sat and talked for hours, and we had a very deep conversation, one idea leading to the next, as I picked her brain about my life, discussing philosophy and who knows what else. Sadly, I am not sure what we talked about, because I can’t remember a word of our conversation. Only at the end, do I remember the details of the dream, and what we said.

In the middle of a thought, I looked around and noticed that the room we were sitting in was completely shrouded in darkness. Not a scary darkness or a haunting darkness, just a dark room. Pitch dark, with no windows and no doors. Except for behind me, where a tiny light shone, like a child’s nightlight, or a cracked door.

“Why are we sitting in the dark?” I asked her. “Do you mind if I turn on a light?”

“I don’t think we can,” she said.

“What about that one?” I gestured to the child’s nightlight behind us. “There must be another lamp in here somewhere.”

“Oh, no. That’s the door. I always leave it open a crack when I come down here to see you.”

So we sit in the dark, waiting to get clarity on our lives and on our work, waiting for the next chapter of our story to begin. We keep listening, and learning, hoping to shed a little more light on the world. Part of the joy of living, and of storytelling both.



Quote of the Week: The Letters We Write To Ourselves

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 | Quote of the Week, The Writing Life | 1 Comment

“A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.”
― Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I pick up my pen and I wonder, what will I tell myself today?

The Void

Monday, July 2nd, 2012 | The Writing Life | 6 Comments


Where do our ideas come from?

Every time I meet with a group for a reading or a signing, this question gets asked. And to be honest, I never have a clear answer.

There are a few guesses I could make: the subconscious mind; dreams, which come from the same source. If I were a sci-fi writer, maybe I would say that my ideas get beamed down from space.

I say they come from the Muse, which may be a combination of all of these things, or none of them. There is a certain level of mystery to the discovery of an idea, an idea that usually emerges when I am up to my elbows in soapy water at the sink, or driving down the highway, unable to reach for a pen. I have learned to value these sudden flashes from the Void, to dry my hands and find my pen, to pull over when I can and make that note. Because the more I value the ideas that come to me, the more they grow…into characters, into stories, into adventures that I would otherwise never get to have.

Once again I say, hurray for adventure. Hurray for the subconscious mind, for the Void, for dreams, for the Muse. Please keep those ideas coming.

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