I don’t know exactly how many people this has happened to, but for me it’s a strange phenomena that goes with writing sometimes. A curious part of being an author is going through a sort of Twilight Zone. I can hear Rod Serling giving some prophetic prose about how things are meant to happen. I had a chat with another writer, Jonnie. She told me, “There are no such thing as coincidences.” I wished I could have been a little more vocal about the subject, but I began to think, maybe she was right. Maybe it’s simply fate which leads to things that run parallel to our own thoughts. Then, it happened again only a week later. That old feeling of my thoughts getting tangled with the mysterious fate of having art imitate life. I write fiction, and I’m willing to resign myself to the idea that some things simply happen where I’ve touched on a part of my story that will run right into somebody’s real life experiences. I can understand it happening once. OK. Maybe twice, but to keep on happening? It kept and keeps (present tense) happening with my first novel Marlboro Blues. Maybe it’s a first book occurrence? A reminder from a higher power saying, “Yes. You ARE a writer! You will NOT be meant to forget it!” Sometimes though, it feels like a curse as opposed to a blessing.
Take for instance, when I was first writing this story. I was trying to figure out the name of my lead female character. I thought “Evelyn” was a really nice name. Then, I was reading about the inspiration of who I based her off of. I had no idea in reality it was her middle name! How did that happen? I could have had it way deep in my subconscious files from several years prior, underneath all those other ones. Stranger things have happened. I could live with the parallel though process. Oh, but wait. There was that search for who would be another lead character, a protagonist. I had a large bunch of magazines. I didn’t even read the articles on who I was going to base this guy off of. I knew exactly the personality I was looking for and his treatment of Evelyn. I thought he looked the part. When I finally decided to read an interview about him, I was in for the shock of my life. Not only did he look the part, he acted like it too! He had a nearly parallel neanderthal way of viewing women as my character. Whoa! What do I do with that twist of fate? That’s two things which happened. I would listen to the radio (preferably iTunes, because the artists I like, they don’t play on regular radio). Because many of my characters for this particular story were very much influenced by musicians, what do I hear on these odd stations? Yep. You guessed it. It happens to be that one musician I based a character off of. Oh great. With anguish, I stop writing and question, “Why me? Why do these things keep happening to me?” I mull it over in my mind. There is a slight possibility they’ll play something different on internet radio, but when does anybody ever play them? So, I’m left playing psychologist, picking apart why fate has been bestowed upon me and my little story. By the time I finished writing the story nine months later, I figured that was it. No more coincidences, twists of fate, parallel though, whatever you want to label it as.
Nine years later, I reread my story figuring I could make it better. This is after I had already released the first edition which I grew to despise. I began to feel something for the story again and thought, there was certainly a story in all of it underneath the fluffy writing I subjected myself to. Actually, a very good story. A little cleaning up and I could be happy with it finally. I had some inspiration from a few people and got the opinions of others who thought the story was good in the first place. I began reworking on things. Tossing out some, cringing at other written parts, fusing together new parts meticulously. All those things a writer goes through. What I didn’t know, dummy me was the curse would follow me still. I turned on iTunes. I’ll be damned. They were on. One of their songs. Here we go again! Checking out an interview with one of my muses/inspirations, I discovered that he was the only person who referred to something a very specific way. I had put the specified referral in my story, not knowing this. I simply thought it was interesting. A little back alley knowledge. A song I had referenced turned out to be one of my favorite inspirations. I thought, “Oh great. I’m going to be labeled as something after all this. Somebody’s going to recognize this, and I’ll be dead meat.” Further along in my rewrite I’d find more of the parallel though process in a sentence. A paragraph. An emotion. An action. All over again. This time though, I was going to jump through it, thumb my nose and dare any more twists of fate. Bring it on!
Fast-forward to a year later, I’m very happy with the revised second edition of Marlboro Blues. I can safely shut the door on this project and move on. Until…just yesterday. All of my pride and Twilight Zone vortex which I thought was closed off for good, decides to come back and bite me. Bite me hard. I’m reading on the internet about someone. Amusing picture that makes me smile. Then I look down at the caption. Right then, it’s “Holy sh**.” I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. It’s a nearly perfect parallel thought process collision of fact meets fiction. One of the inspiration for my characters had this actually happen to him. Although, he is not the recipient of the action, he’s in the scene. The fact hits me even harder. The caption reads 1975. The year I was born. At this point my jaw is on the last setting of its hinge, it can’t drop any further down. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m in shock and wonder how should I handle a cease and desist order which will surely come my way. How was I to know ten years after writing the first edition, that something like this would be revealed? I only thought of the part while I was cleaning the bathroom of an office. You know how your mind kind of wanders. You don’t have a piece of paper, but you think, “Hey, I’m gonna add that to my story. It adds humor, cuteness, an exploitation of awkwardness to one character while introducing another, and it makes sense!” I wasn’t thinking, “I wonder how close to reality I can truly get.”
Luckily, my second novel, The Freedom To Rock has slipped through the strange hands of fate or collision of parallel thought process. One thing is for certain, I’ve learned that perhaps Jonnie was right about there being no such thing as coincidences. Perhaps it’s more about direction than fate. These signs I’ve gone through. Maybe it’s like road signs when you think you’re lost. A way to say, you’re on the right path. Those collisions are actually crossroads, the four-way stop to go north, south, east, or west. Twists of fate that lead to the next intersection of uncertainty. I can pass by that lit up construction sign that gives directions. I’ll turn and look at it. What’s written on it says, “YOU’VE GOT IT NOW.”