Sometimes I scare myself with my writing, in a spooky spirit way. The only thing I can compare it to is how my parents once tried some experiments with “remote viewing,” which had to do with reading one another’s minds. Despite not feeling particularly in tune with one another at that forty-year point in their marriage, they were right 95% of the time, guessing random numbers or words. This was so unnerving that they immediately quit.
I seem to mind-read myself in some time-travel way. I’ve had two eerie experiences tied to my novel writing. The first happened in Seattle, my dear almost home city. I go there often to explore the streets, experiencing the places where my characters, dear Alzheimer’s Annie, her homeless friends, and her desperately searching family live and travel in their fictional adventures. Once, when I was buzzing around downtown, I tripped and sprained my ankle in an intersection, 2nd and Columbia, to be geographically precise. I hobbled onto a bus and back to my car in West Seattle. Later, in my editing process, I noticed a passage written years earlier, in which a character, in that exact same location, in a panic, warned himself “Be careful, don’t fall.” It’s not clear why he thought that; editorially, those words could be cut. For myself, for the spirit and integrity of this art that shapes me, I can’t bear to delete them.
This evening, working on the rewrite of my other novel, I discovered this: –one hard lump remained in the bottom of the Crown Royal bag. She dug into the linty crease and pulled out Duke’s ring, lost years ago. The surprise of it choked her; tears burned her eyes. She slipped the plain gold band onto her middle finger and lifted it to her mouth, tasting the memory of him. I wrote those forgotten words over a year ago.
My strange reality: I’d finally given up on finding the first wedding ring Will gave me. He gave me a new one every few years, all cheap, all heartfelt. I missed that sweet Australian opal, was sure it was lost deep under the console or the dash of our car. When I sold that car, I offered a cash reward should it show up in the detailing work, but it didn’t surface.
This spring, traveling, waiting for a ferry, a fingernail was bugging me. I dug in my bag for a clipper I keep on a key ring designed around a blue pill holder. How aggravating — I’d packed a key ring with a matching pill container, but no clipper. Instead there was a weird little thermometer. And my ring! The surprise of it! A cliché: “she could not believe her eyes.” I could not believe even my fingers! I put it on and off, laughed and cried, kissed my hand. Tonight, reading my work, I’m shocked again; thrilled but also scared by this strange magic. I guess I better be careful what I write!