Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Predict your Future: Write a Story?



I love serendipity and co-incidence. Who doesn't? People fall in love serendipitously. Adoptees and birth parents reunite. Long lost siblings find one another. Old photos and prized possessions of the long dead get returned to loved ones. I'm brought to tears by stories that are powered by coincidence or serendipity when I come across them in newspapers and magazines.

I've written about some lesser serendipitous events of mine on this blog--like THIS. Recently, a   STORY of mine that was published has caused me to consider co-incidence in a more internal context. The story was first drafted in the spring of 2011 while at a writer's residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. It was more than a year later that I brought my mother to California to live with me, so I did not write the story with any daily close observation of my mother or any woman in her 80s. The medical-alert button that Addie (the woman in the story) wears/refuses to wear  was not an item I had any first-hand knowledge of while writing the story--or when the story was first send out to literary magazines a few months ago (I am a very slow worker)--or even by the time it was accepted for publication. But when the story appeared in Fiction Fix, my mom was wearing a Phillips Lifeline button, and having a particularly rough week that required some quick study on my part on the differences between hospice and in-home nursing care.

My mom, this evening, seems to be rallying. A martini was involved.

I find it rather un-nerving, though, that the week I had a story published wherein the 80-something protagonist dies is also the week that my mother was at her most frail. Coincidence.

I write things down that move me. A visual impression. A quote. A scene. Anything and everything. I have hundreds of not-very-well organized notecards. How they get combined to make a story is its own weird kind of serendipity. 

3 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Serendipity and synchronicity are the two most exciting and weird phenomenona that I can think of -- I somehow knew that that story was written BEFORE your mother, and that made it all the more amazing and haunting.

lily cedar said...

I loved the story. It reminded me of my mum. My dad visited her before she died. Two weeks after she died, my dad arrived in my dream to pick up my mother and take her with him.

Ms. Moon said...

Sometimes this phenomenon scares the crap out of me. It's happened to me too.