“[The writer] has to be the kind of man who turns the world upside down and says, lookit, it looks different, doesn’t it?”
I like to look for signs. In fact, I ask for signs. As an intrinsic writer, I believe the world overlaps with itself. I believe that cues are sent to me constantly, as if to remind me of my purpose. Writers do this sort of thing–make sense of hints, harbingers, and omens–because often, our work and our stories are filled with these kinds of notions. Good stories foreshadow, symbolize, represent, etc. Well, I think in life, it’s the same thing. As a writer, I’m just programmed to notice it.
One afternoon I drove to the mall and parked next to a minivan that was sporting a bumper sticker with the title of my novel splashed across it. It isn’t a common phrase, really. And I’d never seen it on a bumper sticker. Haven’t since either. Another time, my brother was watching a recap of a football game on television, and in a screen shot of the facts and stats of two players, I noticed that they shared the names of two of my male characters.
Last week, when meeting with my thesis adviser, she asked me if my novel is written in the first person. I said that yes, it is. Then later on while driving home, I wound up behind a car with a vanity license plate that said (I kid you not) “1 POV.” Very strange. I followed this car almost all the way to my house. I’d never seen it before that night. I haven’t seen it since.
One of the best essays I wrote as an undergrad was titled “Empathy and Intuition Among the Characters of Mrs. Dalloway.” I picked out scenes in the novel where the characters seemed to have unspoken communication. Where they read the minds of one another, and seemed to understand what each was going through. My husband-to-be and I often text each other throughout the day, just to say hi. Last week at precisely 12:30 p.m. I thought to myself: haven’t checked my phone in a while. I bet he sent me a message. Sure enough, a text came through at almost the exact same time. I found out last Sunday that an old neighbor had passed away. This morning I woke up thinking about the last time I had spoken to her. She had told me that she liked to practice Reiki healing. An hour or so later, while visiting a the blog of a fellow blogger, I saw that she too, mentioned using Reiki on sick animals.
There are many more where this came from. In writing, our characters pick up on these kind of cues both as a means of plot structure, and significance for the overall story. But I’m convinced, that if one pays attention, this kind of stuff happens in real life…all the time.