Monday, January 24, 2011

Synchronicity

Do you believe in synchronicity? Have you experienced that odd coincidence when something reminds you of a friend who happens to call you out of the blue? Or when you hear a word you only recently learned for the third time in a week?

Our minds delight in pattern. Writers minds especially. Patterns are the secret joy of storytelling. Not only the patterns in our work but the ones that crop up all around us. When I see a photo that illustrates something I’ve been writing, or hear a song that could be sound track to what I wrote, there is a rightness to the world.
“There I am again!” my secret heart cheers.
After I wrote my first mystery, In Plain View, I happened to wander into a shop near home. There was a poster on display, a panorama photograph of a farm house surrounded by weather worn fences and bare limbed trees.
IPV is set in the deep Midwest, where hundred year-old oaks rise from oceans of grass. These trees embody survival. Shaped by fire, lightning, drought and snow, they rarely have perfect forms. They’ve seen too much for that. The search for justice in my story begins when a man wearing Amish clothes is found hanging from one of these ancient trees. At his feet, lay a pile of pornographic magazines.

It’s magic hour in the photo, the moment when light slices through the atmosphere at the horizon and paints the world a luminous pink.
Maddy O’Hara, the heroine of In Plain View, is a news photographer. She knows about light and shadow. She knows about that moment between—between good and evil, between who you are and who you may become. Maddy’s returned to the Midwest to care for her orphaned niece. Although the barn in the photo needs painting and the fence needs mending, the house seems solid. One window glows like a beacon. The light of home.
One glance at that poster and my mind’s eye saw the whole story. The poster hangs in my office now. Tribute to a moment of artistic synchronicity.
There I am again!

16 comments:

Clare London said...

There's a wonderful evocative feel to that description, Julie, it creates that very picture in the reader's mind. It's fascinating how scenery can seep into our writing consciousness, and very exciting.

There's an old building I pass every day on my way to work, and it's prompted me to create a new character for a book. He works somewhere just like that, I know it in my head and heart! I can't pass the place without immediately thinking of him, they're irrevocably linked now LOL.

Clare London said...

Yes, I know I called you Julie *duh*, I got the names mixed on my 2 posts. What can I say but "Monday morning"?! :)

Toni Anderson said...

Jules--I love that poster and how it inspired the story. I have a poster like that for my first story HER SANCTUARY. I stole it off one of my best friends and really should get it framed. I'm really inspired by images and synchronicity. Lovely post :)

MaureenAMiller said...

Beautiful post, Julie. It is so true. I am actually searching for a painting of lobster boats to mount over the fireplace. I just can't find that 'perfect one' yet.

J Wachowski said...

Clare--you can call me Julie! No duh.

I know exactly what you mean about seeing a bulding and knowing it belongs in the story.

Mysteries are so informed by a sense of place, don't you think? When you know the place, you know something critical about the story.

J Wachowski said...

Toni--
What else are friends for? (I have a mental picture of you leaving a lovely supper party toting a painting under your arm. )

I completely agree! When the work is going well, it's as if the universe conspires to support my vision. Images appear, buildings pop out of the landscape-the perfect setting! and lobster boats lurk in every port.

Of course, when the work is blowing chunks I see nothing but laundry, dirty dishes, stacks of bills and sweeping fields of weeds in my yard.

Funny how that works?

J Wachowski said...

Maureen--
Will keep an eye out for lobster boats. ;)

Wynter Daniels said...

Great post. I often have stories tumbling around in my head, waiting for the missing element to bring the idea to fruition. When that missing link falls into place, the story follows.

Marcelle Dubé said...

I know exactly what you mean. The inspiration for my next Carina novel was a kid's red high top abandoned on a highway. I kept circling back to that image and the result is The Shoeless Kid.

I'm in the middle of reading In Plain View, by the way. I'm enjoying it very much. I can "see" the fields and the hanging tree... good job.

J Wachowski said...

Thanks, Marcelle. (Although I admit, I always feel a rush of nerves when someone says they're reading my book. My Imposter Syndrome flaring up, I suppose. )

I love the image of the red shoe/shoeless kid. I grew up in the big city. For a while there was a fad, when a boy was recruited into a gang, the gang bought him new (expensive) shoes.
They tied the laces of the old ones together and flung them over a power line, where everyone on the block could see. The sight of a new pair of dangling shoes used to make me sick to my stomach.

Wynter--I know what you mean. Sometimes the synchonicity happens when the bits you already have meet their 'missing piece.'

Like a little lost shoe...

Elise Warner said...

Places and people and overheard conversations. How they stay in a writer's mind. Your description intrigued me, Julie.

Marcelle Dubé said...

No need to be nervous -- it's a great story!

Julie Moffett said...

Great post and very true. My writing flows better when I can visualize the scene down the to tiniest detail.

J Wachowski said...

Smooch.
Thanks Marcelle.

J Wachowski said...

I totally agree, Julie M.

I think it's because when there is lots of detail we can pick and choose-- more "angles" for the camera in a way.

Shirley Wells said...

I love that poster - so evocative! And I loved In Plain View with all it's imagery.

Great post!