Birthing Stars

One of my favourite writing friends, Julie Christine Johnson, just published an evocative post “Atmospheric River” on her blog. (Aside* Do yourself a favour and visit Julie’s blog. It will lift your spirits and inspire you.) I had never heard of the term “Atmospheric River” before but it just zings with me now. Julie speaks of awakening from a winter of the soul, one which I know well and so much of what she shares in this post echoes what I am feeling right now.

A couple of days ago I celebrated a birthday. In many ways it was a difficult Birthday because it was my first without one of my oldest friends, someone who is a part of my soul. But also because of A and how much she treasured life, even as it slipped out of her fingers like the broken silken threads of spiderwebs, I also was determined to truly appreciate the day. It ended up being both a terrible and beautiful day, much like life itself. Terrible in that someone, in a six degrees of separation way, was buried on my birthday morning. Beautiful in that a precious new human, the first longed-for son of one of my soul-friends, was born on the evening of my birthday.  A burial in the morning and a birth in the evening on my birthday. An ending in the morning and a beginning in the evening of my birthday. This paradox of tragedy/beauty and death/birth made me think of the life of a star.

The past and all its little deaths of finished moments births our present…

There is nothing more magnificent than looking up at a night sky and trying to count all the stars one sees. But the stunning paradox is that many of those bright stars that we see in our galaxy are reflections of their past. Many of those stars that look so bright with life are stars that have died but because of their immense distance from us, we are actually seeing their past in our present. Isn’t that how it is with our memories and our own lives? We see the past in our present, hope for the unknown future but all we do know is the past. The past and all its little deaths of finished moments births our present. The past beauty of stars gives us our present vision of the night sky.

Black holes birth stars

The above article was published a couple of days ago. Ironically it was published on my birthday. 

“A team of astrophysicists has discovered that supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies aren’t just destroyers of stars, but can also be their creators…”

This artist’s impression depicts a galaxy forming stars within powerful outflows of material blasted out from supermassive black holes at its core. (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

This article filled me with thrills of excitement and it zinged with the epiphany I’ve had this week. I’ve been in my own black hole both creatively and emotionally. For the longest time I haven’t only not been inspired but I didn’t care that I didn’t want to create when life felt so destructive and chaotic. This black hole kept sucking me further and deeper into its vacuous depths. But very slowly a tiny, minuscule creative spark was being birthed in all this destruction.

This personal supermassive black hole had destroyed the stars of my creativity and ripped asunder the fabric of my night skies, forever changing the galaxy of my life, pulling it all into this consuming black nothingness that is grief. But where there is death there has to be life. This black hole I have found myself in has birthed beautiful, vibrant, sparking creative energy. The immense blackness has birthed exquisite light. 

This black hole has birthed stars. Out of chaos, beauty. 

I am birthing stars again. The synapses of my imagination are sparking with a fiery energy as they are born out of the very thing that was their destroyer. For the first time in the longest time, ideas are flying through me and streaming out my fingers into the ink on a page. Old words are reawakening. New words are taking their first breath. Finally I am creating again. This act of creativity/creation is awakening my very soul and stitching the broken pieces of my grieving heart  together again into something stronger and beautiful. The ideas are flying so fast and so abundantly that it is all I can do to capture them in the net of my page.

How do you net stars? 

I can’t net all the stars and some of these words, some of these ideas, like the stars in the night sky will die even as their trailing light births new words, new ideas and new stars of creativity. But I don’t need to net all the stars flying past me at light-year speed. It is enough that there are stars being birthed and that even as some will die, more will be born. My galaxy looks different now, forever changed. Life is chaotic and messy, tragic and broken. But life is also beautiful and precious, hopeful and whole. The seasons of a life are many and constantly in flux, changing even as they change us. The seasons of Creativity are also constantly in flux, ebbing and flowing, dimming and brightening. Life and creativity is a paradox of opposites, of winters and summers, of rusting leaves and fragile blossoms, and that is a beautiful reality.

I will net enough stars out of this black hole, enough stars to remind myself that I am breathing, that I have this time, this present moment. This present moment is all that we have but what lies in our control is what we choose to do with it. For me, right now, I am birthing stars.

Out of destruction, creation. 

Out of death, birth.

Out of darkness, light.

Out of grief, hope.

Out of chaos, stars.

Summer-Spiration & Showing Up

The Winter of discontent is over and Summer-Spiration has officially begun…at least in my corner of the world.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a Winter person. Winter constipates and depresses me mentally, emotionally and creatively. I need the warmth and vibrancy that summer brings to feel truly in tune. This winter has definitely been a winter of discontent and hibernation. On Sunday morning our clocks changed to Daylights Savings and my Creativity Savings kicked into high gear.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

A few weeks ago I shared a post about this discontent and my creative constipation. I am usually not one to whine, complain or moan. Quite the opposite I tend to always forge through and look for the sunshine behind the cloud. But this winter things fell in on top of me and I swallowed my pride and told you all about it. You see it wasn’t that my well had run dry or the ideas had abandoned me. Rather I curled up in a fetal ball and hid from the dreck, muck & mire of my real life. As soon as I posted this messy confession, I was twisted into a contradiction cook-sister. *another analogy would be pretzel* One part of me felt “damn Kim you scraped off your protective tough outer layer and let them see the fragile messy parts.”… But once the comments and the emails started rolling in from all who read the post, there was a cathartic healing; that feeling that I was not alone in my discontent. These were some of the comments/responses that helped me uncurl myself from that fetal position to a sitting position…

I read this post and felt a deep recognition: I could have written this…I’ve been so stuck this year, and every time I un-stick… bam: another storm to weather, another day to survive. It is making me realize I need other sources of stability beyond just my writing. Putting so much pressure on my writing to be The One Thing that Makes Sense and Always Helps is putting too much strain on my creativity. As much as this year has been difficult, it is one that is teaching me how to Be. It will be worth it – for both of us…

I feel like not writing is a form of self abuse…

Well said, darlin’. It’s been that kind of year for me, too, and I’m only just starting to get out from under it. Write on…

I have been here, Kim. I have been shut up behind the dam. The put it bluntly, it f-ing sucks. You pound and pound and pound and yet nothing will come out. Nothing did for me, anyway, until I took the advice of a friend and started writing a journal about writing. It helped a lot. Perhaps give it a try. It is where I found my honesty with myself when it came to dealing with the stuff that was preventing me from actually getting my work done. Sometimes I still do it, though I am no longer dammed. I hope you find the fissure through which to burst…

Write whatever you need to. They don’t have to see the light of day but may help you, both in getting through the difficult time and getting back in touch with the writer in you

Honey, I’m with you. I make you look perfectly normal. If writers struggle to get past the “why isn’t this sounding like I’d envisioned it” stage, it’s because they’re still amateur. When a writer hits this point, however–like you and me–it’s a show that we’ve hit another level of knowledge between life and writing. Because dealing with difficult emotional memories in life is the coloured picture, and writing it into a fictional story is the black sheet with little peepholes the writer carves out so the reader can glimpse into what’s being told…

When your dam breaks, I’m sure beauty will spring forth. If a little on the dark side…

The fact is, writer’s block is not funny.

When the words elude me, I start to feel desperate. I have a harder time dealing with the crap in my real life because there is no escape. The absent words haunt me, and wound me. I feel this vague sense of constant irritation, an emptiness where words used to be.

Right now, I’m making myself write. Every day. Even if it’s only one word. It seems to be helping, though I may be 90 by the time this ms gets finished…

Just get up everyday and keep going. You will prevail over this. Go for a long walk and just keep being you. We all sadly have something that tries to beat us down. Keep going please…

You are fighting your demons, but you are also dancing with them. This takes the greatest courage of all…

I loved your quote : “Life should not be about surviving. It should be about LIVING.” I’ve been avoiding an essay I started about a childhood trauma and you have inspired me to get back to it.

Thank you so much for sharing your struggle…

Wow! Talk about “Knowing it, Feeling it, Living it.” These comments were my inspiration that uncurled me into a sitting position again. That post was written a month ago. That was the first step into a sitting position. September was all about uncurling myself from a sitting position into a standing position. Now I stand here in the “standing position” and I am ready to put one foot in front of the other into a walking position. Because life is now about “not, not getting knocked down or not, not getting knocked back, but it is about getting knocked down or knocked back and standing up again. Once you start moving, walking forward you start taking a step to dancing with your dreams, your goals, your aims, your aspirations, your joys.

So to each and every person who inspired me to uncurl myself into that sitting position…

So this Summer is all about getting from that “Standing” position to the “Walking Forward” position. I am really excited about what I have in store writing-wise.

  • I am in the middle of writing “The Tattooist – Liquid Ink” *more about this WIP here*
  • I am working on a short story that will be included in an exciting anthology *watch this space for more* with some awesome authors later this year.
  • I am also working on a six-book *so far* series of stand-alone novellas that will be published next year. Series working name: The Red Gates Secrets *The series is paranormal horror and one I have been itching to write for a while now-Based on fact*
Life should not be about surviving. It should be about LIVING and that means the dark shades are as important to colour in as the light shades are. Perhaps the darkest shades are the ones we need the most because if there is no dark there need be no light. I am ready to un-dam those waters and let the dark words out so the spark of a match will lead me back to my creativity and back to my place of sanity: writing. I have to remind myself  that even the rubbish words are still words. As scary as it is, it is time to un-dam the words. Otherwise I may as well just give up now. I am too stubborn to give up yet. 

I’ll leave you with my new favourite motivation song…

Pink says it best > “Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die

You’ve gotta get up and try try try!

What gets You up to Try-Try-Try? 
What do you desire enough to take a Risk of getting burned?

 

Writing Epiphanies in the Brushstrokes of Picasso

This last weekend I had the rare pleasure of attending an art exhibition of the Modern Masters “Degas to Dali” that called my city a temporary home on loan from The National Galleries of Scotland. With 79 works by over 60 Modern Masters from Renoir to Monet, Degas to Dali, Picasso to Warhol and Van Gogh to Matisse it was a feast for the creative senses.

You are probably wondering what an art exhibition of The Modern Masters has to do with writing and Wrestling the Muse. Everything. Writing is just another form of art. Where the great Masters of the art world used exquisite brushstrokes to create pictures and stir the senses, writers use ink blotches and words to create worlds that a reader can step into. Writing, Painting, Sculpture, Music are all forms of Art. If you are a writer, you are a creator of worlds and an artist of words.

What struck me during my tour of the exhibition was how alike a painter wrestling with his creation is to a writer wrestling with his. We both have a very specific vision of the completed work but at times the journey to get to that point of writing The End or framing that completed canvas is fraught with struggle. There was a room where the quotes of these great Modern Masters had been displayed on a wall. These are some of the quotes that stood out to me. These same quotes could directly be used for us writers.

  • I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. – Pablo Picasso
  • I have a horror of people who speak about the beautiful. What is the beautiful? One must speak of problems in painting  a story! – Pablo Picasso
  • If there were only one truth, you couldn’t paint write a hundred canvases stories on the same theme. – Pablo Picasso
  • Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. – Pablo Picasso
  • It took me four years to paint write like Raphael (insert a Master of Literature here), but a lifetime to paint write like a child. – Pablo Picasso
  • Action is the foundational key to all success. – Pablo Picasso
  • An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought. – Pablo Picasso
  • Are we to paint write what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it? – Pablo Picasso
  • Art is the elimination of the unnecessary. – Pablo Picasso
  • Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picaso
  • Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. – Pablo Picasso
  • Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.– Pablo Picasso
  • Painting Writing is a blind man’s profession. He paints writes not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.- Pablo Picasso
  • The hidden harmony is better than the obvious. – Pablo Picasso
  • The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is,the less there is. – Pablo Picasso

Just like the great artists, us writers have to get messy with our creations. We have to be willing to be ink-splattered. We have to be bold and unafraid. We have to let the story take control over the technique. We have to disappear so our characters can talk to the reader. We need to remember to tell stories like a child does. We need to let loose our passions into the story. We need to remember that up close we the artists may see only brushstrokes and mess but from a distance our audience the reader needs to see the full picture. We need to step back and look at our work with the eye of a reader to truly see if we are consistent in the path our story has taken. Remember to not only read but to look at beautiful art, listen to beautiful music, touch a beautiful sculpture. Seek out inspiration and it will show itself to you.


My muse is a tease

My muse has been distracting me this week. I have been teased with images of exotic locales that want to be settings in new stories. This happens to me every time I open my mind up to creating, which is what I have been doing this week. Suddenly I am teased by random pieces of inspiration whether they be, images, words, articles, media – you name it but the doors to inspiration are wide open.

I read an article today that says the average brain has 12 000 thoughts every day and it can run to having up to 60 000 thoughts a day. This does not come as a surprise. Our brains are always off on tangents even when and especially when we are supposed to be concentrating and working. I know mine is.

People always want to know where story ideas come from. It is the no. 1 question that readers like to ask writers and even writers like to ask other writers. My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, the ordinary, the mundane, the strange and the extraordinary. I have had ideas come to me in vivid dreams. I have heard something on the radio, watched something on television or read something and it has sparked an idea. But the main thing that always starts me on the scent of a new story is: What if? I love teasing out the answers to that mysterious question.

I am lucky enough that I am never short of story ideas. I have two huge lever arch files of story ideas and story inspirations. But the annoying part is that my story ideas come to me while I am working on another current story idea. They never wait their turn politely. Unfortunately too I have a low patience meter so the minute a new idea comes to me I really, really want to drop everything and play with the new idea.

Is this wrong? Should I rather ignore it?

No, ignoring it does not make it go away instead just the opposite. If I actively try to ignore the new story idea, I can think of nothing else. Believe me I know this from experience. Even if I fill my waking hours with work and distraction, the idea will enter my sleep. It tugs at me constantly.

So I have now learnt that the most effective way to deal with new story ideas, to quieten their cries of need just long enough to hear myself think is to write them down and then file them. This way they feel acknowledged and don’t take their creative anger out on me or my sleep. Instead after writing the idea down, I can get to work on the story I am meant to be working on and that new idea has a chance to percolate in the to-be-done file of my imagination.

  • Pinterest is a fantastic tool to accomplish this. I can pin an image from the post that caught my attention and that way I can go back to that article when I am ready to play with it. Pinterest is also fantastic if you are more a visual thinker than a verbal thinker.
  • Evernote is fantastic for quick note taking/idea filing. I have the application downloaded onto both my laptop and my iPod so that even if I get an idea from a dram I can roll over, pick up my iPod and without turning on the light type in the note.
  • Then I also have my trusty Moleskine notebooks: I have a bright green version for my new story ideas and a deep blue one for my current WIPs. (Any excuse to buy more stationery 😉 )

I am truly thankful for an abundance of story ideas but I need to teach my muse to be more disciplined and to wait his turn in bringing me the ideas. But it is a catch-22 because I would hate to get to the spot that I don’t get ideas any more. So for this week, I have shelved the new story idea (it is a very tantalizing one) to percolate and see what comes of it.

Now it is back to work on the stories that need to be written and worked on.

Do you find you have too many ideas clamoring for attention?

How do you handle the new ideas that you just don’t have the time for?

Where have your ideas come from?

Go wandering… Get lost a little…

Are you ready to lose the map?

I love road trips. Always have. It started when I was a babe in my mother’s arms and the minute the vehicle started I was in “happy-land”. I love road trips with no clear destination in mind. You know, those times when you get in the vehicle and just drive following the road as your only map. Travelling fuels my sense of adventure, exploration and discovering the great unknown. The best adventures don’t usually happen on the main highway. They usually happen when you take that pothole-ridden abandoned side-road. There’s a sense of risk maybe even danger. Your adrenaline is fizzing through your bloodstream. Anything can happen. It might not all be good but it will be an adventure.

So what’s road trips got to do with this post. Everything. To get very profound, life is a road trip: unpredictable, risky, mapless, pitstops unknown, destination murky and a complete adventure. But this is not a post on the profound meaning of life. That is for another day. This is a post about writing, story, creativity and inspiration.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost

Writing both as a vocation and the act of writing individual stories is a lot like a road trip. As a writer, words are my vehicle and inspiration is my driver and gritting-your-teeth-clenching-your-knuckles persistence is the fuel that makes this trip possible. With writing even if I start with a map, I usually tend to veer off the main road and take that tempting side-road. Sometimes these side-roads turn out to be dead ends or cliff tops but the beauty of a vehicle is that it reverses as well so I can always turn back. But more often than not these side-roads tend to give me nuggets of pure gold. They give me the little twist in the tail in my plot, they work out that ugly knot you may have written yourself into and sometimes they change your whole plot into something even better.

I am on just such an adventure right now with my two WIPs. One of them is in the final drafting stage and the other is new and shiny and keeps on catching my eye. I had a map with the first WIP, all neatly outlined. But something was not working, some magic was missing. So I figured the map was holding me back. I threw the map away, refueled with some gritty persistence and took the pitted side road. I am about 2/3 way through edits and the characters are driving it. I stopped thinking and directing so much and just let them take the wheel. It does mean that Book 2 is going to change a little from the original map but that is the beauty of a side-road: Change. When you edit a draft, you need to tear it apart, change it up, stretch it thin and then do it again. You have to get brutal with your plot and you have to get brutal with your ego. You have to buckle up and just keep going, hold on through the rocky patches and speed wobbles but stay in the driver’s seat.

As for my new and shiny WIP, this one is going to be a road-trip completely off the map and off the highway. My creative synapses are sparking off major electric sparks of excitement. The story is gritty, the characters are raw and I am ready for this road trip. I am also ready for a new adventure. I do love the final draft WIP but I know what happens on that road trip, I have seen the destination in the distance. This new WIP is a trip into the unknown but so far the landscape is stripped down to that raw and natural beauty you find in a vast desert where the horizon seems endless. It is just the beginning of this story’s road trip and I have already thrown the map away. I am ready for the adventures these characters are going to take me on. My adrenaline is buzzing.

So what about you?

Do you love road trips?

Are you one of those people who has to have a map and navigator?

Are you ready to lose the map and get lost?

Have you ever found you had to change up the whole plot of your story, you had to get muddled to get found?

Always extra room in my closet for some…Dress me Inspiration

“Fashion is as profound and critical a part of the social life of man as sex, and is made up of the same ambivalent mixture of irresistible urges and inevitable taboos.” – Rene Konig

I know that I have been lax in posting on the blogs but hopefully this post of inspiration will make up for it. Though I am a writer and should be more focused on words than anything else, I am also a very visual person. I have spoken before about how I create vision boards for each of my WIPs and even for future works. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but for me one picture can spark off a whole manuscript. One of my favourite forms of vision boards are when I find clothing for my characters. I never need an excuse to stroll through fashion magazines/sites but when I can mark it off as “work” in research, the satisfaction is doubled.

"Everything you own should have value, either because it's functional or beautiful or you just love it."-- Peter Walsh

A week ago I was invited to sign up to a new social network: Pinterest. I had heard about it for a while beforehand and had even had friends who signed up but I resisted the lure of another social network. The resistance proved futile and my curiosity finally won out. I wanted to know what all the cool “kids” were on about. I wanted to be in on the secret too. So a friend kindly invited me (like most deliciously secretive societies, Pinterest membership is by invite/request for the time being) to Pinterest and within a few moments I was in and had my own Pinterest boards.

 “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” – Yves Saint Laurent

Pinterest is fantastic for a person like me who is a vision board junkie. It is set up much like a regular cork board vision board you would set up at home. You create all these boards, title them, describe them and then you “pin” your interesting images, either your own from your computer’s drive or pinned/linked from other online sites. The great thing with Pinterest is that the original creator of the image is credited and you also have the original link from where you found the image in the first place. This cuts down on your web-browser bookmarks and keeps all your visual inspiration in one tidy place.

” ‘Style’ is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style.”           – John Fairchild

So here for example is my Pinterest board for my current WIP trilogy – The Curse`d. So on this board I have a few of the images that I have used for inspiration for my WIP, whether it be settings, culture types, clothing and characters.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” – Coco Chanel

Which brings me to CLOTHING and STYLE. Two of my favourite interests but also vital to a story. I don’t know about you, but if I can picture the characters the way they are dressed it really gives me a picture in my mind. The type of clothing worn by some characters can tell me much about who they are. It also tells me when and where the story is set. Clothing/Style of characters can tell me about whether the character is a businessman/woman, a lady/man of leisure, a woman/man of action and it can also tell me what the character wants me to know about them. Clothing can also be symbolic of a character’s emotions. Memorable outfits by literary characters/film characters come to mind at the drop of a hat and we can recall the stories behind these outfits. Think of the green dress in Atonement or the fire dress in The Hunger Games. Clothing can make a character stand out from all the others. In a sense the fashions in a novel are characters in and of themselves.

 “Fashion is born by small facts, trends, or even politics, never by trying to make little pleats and furbelows, by trinkets, by clothes easy to copy, or by the shortening or lengthening of a skirt.” – Elsa Schiaparelli

I love the societies that my current trilogy is set in: a mix of contemporary urban, early Victorian society and Romany Gypsies. The inspiration for the clothing is almost limitless. You have the exquisite formality of the Victorian era, the romanticism of the Romany Gypsy culture and the simplicity and understated sexiness of the urban-contemporary.

“What I really love about them… is the fact that they contain someone’s personal history…I find myself wondering about their lives. I can never look at a garment… without thinking about the woman who owned it. How old was she? Did she work? Was she married? Was she happy?… I look at these exquisite shoes, and I imagine the woman who owned them rising out of them or kissing someone…I look at a little hat like this, I lift up the veil, and I try to imagine the face beneath it… When you buy a piece of vintage clothing you’re not just buying the fabric and thread – you’re buying a piece of someone’s past.” – Isabel Wolff

So here for your pleasure are some style/clothing images that have been the inspiration behind my WIP.

This is the inspiration for one of my MCs.

This dress is the dress that my MC will mean in a key moment in her story.

This is another key piece worn by my MC later in her story.

The inspiration for the debonair man who catches my MC’s eye and heart.

This is inspiration for my second MC but later in the trilogy.

This is my inspiration for my hero.

This is inspiration for my second MC.

Writers: What do you use for fashion inspiration in your novels?

Readers: What are your favourite outfits from the pages of fiction?

 

What lies beneath the surface?

You are pulled from a deep sleep, your heart racing. What woke you? The night is dead with silence. Your eyes glance at the bedside clock: 3:oo am flashes at you in neon green. They call it the Witching Hour. I call it my hour of secret dread. Every tale ever heard about bogeymen, ghosts, poltergeists, knife wielding masked burglars rushes through my brain. What was that? Did I see a shadow or did my eyes just make that up? Why is the curtain moving when the windows are closed? That door is opening…

You are visiting a new friend. Something tugs at your thoughts as you knock on the front door. You wonder where this sense of memory stirs from. The door is answered. You know what she is going to say before she says it. You know what the entrance hallway is going to look like. You have been in this house. Before. The whole visit spins out before you echoing your memory. But this is the first time you have walked into this house. Isn’t it? De’ja`vu. Hindsight or foresight?

Footsteps in an empty house. Inexplicable sounds and smells. Shadows in doorways. Objects being moved. Someone watches you. You turn around, there is nobody there. Someone follows you. You feel a breath on the back of your neck that raises all the hairs on your neck. A terrible foreboding of danger.

What lies beneath the surface of your 5 senses?

Whether you are superstitious or cynical, we all have a 6th sense. This is the sense that warns you of dangers you cannot expect. This is the sense that makes sense of the impossible, the illogical, the supernatural. This is the sense on high alert at those eerie hours when the night is the most silent and it is the darkest and coldest hours before dawn. This is the sense that makes you turn around and look for the watcher, the stalker, the hunter when you know you are alone but someone or something is following you. This is the sense that you experience when “someone walks over your grave” and a shiver down the spine shakes the bones in your body. This is the sense that you tap into when something strange is suddenly inexplicably familiar. This is the sense you tap into when you walk into a house and know within your bones that though you are alone, you are not the only person in the house.

This is why I write the stories I write. I have always had a strong 6th sense. Those closest to me have been known to be freaked out by my 6th sense. I have seen ghosts. I have spoken to ghosts. I have warned ghosts away. I have dreams of future events that always spell danger or threats with an uncanny way of coming true. It has got to the point that loved ones do not want me to tell them if I dream of them. I have innumerable events of de’ja`vu. I can see through social masks of strangers and judge their characters accurately within minutes of meeting them. This strong 6th sense is something I have alternately loved and hated all my life. It saved a friend and I from the clutches of a serial paedophile/killer. It saved my father from being strangled by a vengeful ghost. When it comes now, I listen. It has never been wrong. But now I accept it as part of me. These are not stories. They are inexplicable events that have happened.

But this 6th sense, this sense of the eerie supernatural and inexplicable paranormal has always fascinated me. Whether one believes in ghosts or other supernatural/paranormal beings, there are many things in life that seem to lie “beneath the surface” of what we know or can explain. You may believe a house is just a house. But sometimes there are things left over, a sense of people and emotions that your rational brain just cannot explain. There are too many things/events that happen that overwhelm the rational brain but the evidence is too strong to be in complete denial.

I love exploring what “lies beneath the surface”. It is about digging beneath the layers of the inexplicable and allowing your 6th sense to guide your other 5 senses. These are the questions that fill my stories: What is the sense of de’ja`vu really? What is that 6th sense of danger, of knowing/feeling someone’s eyes on you even when you are alone? What is the meaning behind dreams? How can you tell whether a person has good or evil intentions with no known proof except a “feeling”?

As children this 6th sense is undisputed and accepted. But when people (usually adults we trust) start telling us we are just “imagining” it, we doubt ourselves. We start doubting the innate ability that we all have that taps into our survival skills. We start “growing up” and decide it was all just child’s play. But was it? Even the most cynical adults do get glimpses of this 6th sense throughout our lives and more often than not, this usually is re-activated by events/people/objects that put us in danger and we tap into our base survival skills. This is why I write the stories I do and even read the stories I do. Stories where someone’s life is put in danger through natural and/or supernatural means have a heightened sense of this 6th sense.

Adults have a lot to answer for. We tell a child they can do anything but they cannot think or feel what they think or feel if it does not fit into a rational acceptable explanation. Are we helping them grow up or are we stunting their innate abilities and gifts not to mention imagination?

What is imagination after all? What is so childish or illogical about imagination?

If a man had not imagined flying there would be no aeroplanes – something we now take for granted to get around this global community. If a man had not imagined there was land beyond the seas he could see in all direction, most of this planet would be undiscovered.

Talking to the cynic in those of us over the age of five…

  • Are you willing to suspend your rational beliefs when faced with something you can’t explain? 
  • Are you willing to admit that life is full of inexplicable matter “beneath the surface”? 
  • Does everything have to be tied up in a tight, neat box of explanation wrapped in a tidy bow of rationality? 
  • Are you willing to ask: What if? 
  • Are you willing to admit you cannot explain everything? 
  • Should you want to explain everything? 
  • Isn’t that the beauty of life: it’s mystery and unpredictability?

Trust that 6th sense. Explore the de’ja`vu. Trust yourself. Open your mind and open your eyes. Unleash the childlike belief you were born with. Life is full of inexplicable mystery.

The joy is not in having all the right answers but in discovering the right questions.