Can you think of a moment when something felt so right, it seemed as if idea or information was whispered directly into your ear by a little fairy at exactly the right moment? Or there was that time you picked up a book that called to you for some reason. Perhaps it was on your shelf for months—years—but at that moment, you knew it was time to read it. Boy, are you glad you did, because as you’re reading, you notice, oddly, that this book holds a lesson for you that came at the precise moment you needed it.
I was recently reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and had a major A-HA! moment. Though the novel or genre is nothing like my work-in-progress, it got me thinking about my manuscript from a different angle at EXACTLY the right moment. In fact, that little piece of inspirational gold has up-ended the entire structure of my work-in-progress. (This is why I don’t buy the excuse that reading novels by other authors while working on your own is a bad idea. I’m inspired constantly by reading, either through a research gem, or a craft gem. Reading is a hugely important part of the writing process. But I digress…) Needless to say, it amazed and delighted me. There have been many more of these magical moments along the way….which made me think:
Where do these little gems come from, and how do know exactly when to pick that book or listen to that song? Is there something ordered about these A-HA moments that we don’t understand? Where do they come from and what do they mean?
We’re under so many influences, from social media to pop culture trends to political trends. Writers (and other artists) are particularly sensitive to these influences. I would go on to say we have a certain vision of the world others don’t; we tend to be more aware of nuance and behaviors and details that are pregnant with meaning. Does this, therefore, mean our portals are more open to serendipitous occasions in which we find PRECISELY what we’re looking for–or need?
Some would call this serendipity. I call it being tapped in to something greater than ourselves. Some sort of zeitgeist or energy field or God, if you will.
So zeitgeist. I would love to learn German. The language manages to capture psychological concepts that are often difficult to pin down in our thoughts, never mind in our expression (and certainly never in English). Schadenfreude, taking pleasure in someone else’s pain; weltschmerz, feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders; fremdscham, feeling the shame and embarrassment someone else is experiencing; and then there’s one that is relative to today’s lesson, which also happens to be one of my favorites as a cultural geographer and historical novelist: zeitgeist. Zeitgeist is defined as capturing the spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
This is what writers do. We tap into that zeitgeist unwittingly and funnel an idea through us like a straw. Well, some of us do this better than others, but ultimately, this “tapping in” is all about energy.
The Interconnectedness of All Things
What if zeitgeist goes beyond our cultural influences and is really rooted in science? The science of energy. Since matter is neither created nor destroyed, each one of us harnesses a form of energy as we flow from one version of matter to the next, and our thoughts, therefore, are part of a larger consciousness. This is how trends begin separately and ultimately converge. If you study history, this interconnectedness becomes very apparent in the way inventions or scientific discoveries have emerged almost simultaneously in different geographical regions—and cultures—that were isolated from one another. So…these ideas and thoughts and sparks of creation are all just there, floating around in this giant cloud. And somehow, we are all connected to it through our energy waves and particles and stuff. I know. What’s the point?
We must use this connectedness to capture ideas.
Think of these idea gems as butterflies that flutter around your metaphysical space. The more open we are—and the better we manage life’s interruptions—the more aware we become of these cosmic opportunities. The thing is, there are SO MANY ideas out there, so it’s hard to know where to start for some of us, or to decide which will come first. Discerning which idea you will explore comes with practice, but it’s also about pushing past our filters and judgments and fears, and really exploring. And there’s one more important piece to this connectedness (well, there’s tons more, but stay with me). Connectedness is often not about looking for something. It’s about being in a state of reception. Be ready to receive , even if what comes your way scares you or challenges you.
I find tapping into these ideas and knowing which way to go in my fiction is a lot like listening to your intuition while you’re editing. You begin to recognize the necessary revisions that resonate with you through practice, and by clearing your brain of doubt and distraction. In time, you can “feel” what is right and recognize the best course of action to take. In time, you can not only recognize this connectedness, but you can feel it. Let it guide you.
And if you don’t let it guide you? This flow of energy around you never stops moving, so if you choose to ignore it, the idea will be captured by someone else. They’ll tap into the zeitgeist in their own way.
And finally, we must use this energy and call to ourselves what we wish to manifest.
This applies to our lives at large, but it also applies to our fiction. We are co-creaters alongside this energy. If we are open—if we listen and receive—rather than laugh off notions we can’t explain, we can develop these pieces of inspirational gold in our own authentic way. Maybe we’ll even make a piece of art we are very proud of.
This is some heavy duty stuff and I found it very difficult to discuss in such a short post. It makes for good conversation, however, and I thought I’d give it a whirl. Can you think of instance in which you read, saw, or heard the most perfect little gem that revealed an important truth in your work in progress? Did you feel as if it came from something greater than little ol’ you?
Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can!