STRANGE ENCOUNTERS OF THE WRITING KIND
This post is devoted to our mysterious universe. Does it conspire to help us fulfill our dreams? I know that most of the time I feel it might be working against me, but then these thoroughly mystifying events occur and I'm no longer so sure.
I remember working on one of my early stories. While I loved the plot, it needed something … a bit of zing. It was a book about The Devil and I thought a bit of folklore would be just perfect for all the elements to gel. The next afternoon, I took a break from writing and went to Barnes and Noble. I was browsing through some books, and as I leafed through a five-hundred page tome, I found the buried little secret that grew up to be The Man with the Blue Hat. I almost felt as if my hand was guided to find that page.
Most of the incidents have been restricted to this kind of finding “things.” Thus the paranormal help was reserved for an article, a class or information needed to put the polishing touch on a tale. Once or twice, there was a “people” aspect—like the running into someone that was to have a positive effect on a goal I was trying to achieve, but that type of occurrence was rare. However, never say never because yesterday something astounding happened that I just had to blog about. To say it was downright weird is an understatement; I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this one.
Last Wednesday, January 7th, I was walking to Uncle Buck’s, my favorite coffee shop. It was after dark, and as I traversed the gritty streets of New York, this really creepy idea for a story came to me in the form of the opening scene of a book. I had plenty on my writing plate and wasn’t even planning on starting anything new. Nonetheless, when I got to Uncle Buck’s and settled in at a table, the scene was the first thing I wrote. Without giving the entire story away, it concerns a fictional movement starting in NY. The underground tunnels and hidden places around the city play a huge part in the storyline, as does the notion of the leader of this group using “recruiters” to enlist new converts into their fight. The scene I wrote down concerns one of these recruiters.
Skip to Saturday, January 10th. I went to Uncle Buck’s around 3PM. I took another stab at rewriting the first chapter of one of my WIP’s and wrote a chapter in a second work that’s close to being finished. While I was working on the chapter, a gentleman came into the cafe. He was looking under the chairs and benches, and I figured he was looking for an outlet so he could recharge either his phone or laptop. Sure enough, he was. I showed him where the plug was and he squeezed into a spot two seats away from me and began working on his computer.
I didn’t think anything more about the encounter, and continued on with my writing. I was so engrossed that I didn’t even notice dark having descended. When I finally came up for air, the young man sitting next to me left the cafe. The gentleman who needed the outlet, moved over and took that more spacious table that was directly next to me. After another hour or so, he suddenly asked me if I were a writer. I said I was trying to be and we got into a conversation as to when one can rightfully claim that title for themselves.
After we hashed that subject out, he explained why he’d asked the question. He said it was because he'd happened to notice the word “camera” in the chapter I was working on. I laughed and explained that, yes, the protagonist is an amateur photographer and that her taking photos has something to do with the storyline. He said he was a photographer and then asked me what sort of stories I wrote. He didn’t seem the type to be into horror, but that’s what I do so I said, “I write horror and mysteries.” He looked at me strangely and I figured the stare was his opinion on my choice of genres.
He was quiet for another moment or two—as if thinking about whether to say something or not. I gave him his space and sipped some coffee. After a few more seconds, he said that about a month ago, he was on the subway, and that while he was sitting on the train, he’d noticed someone that made him think, “Oh, no!” and do a double take. He said that it wasn’t uncommon for him to notice people who he thought were up to something because he was in law enforcement. But even with that background, this guy weirded him out to the point he wrote a paragraph describing him and what his impressions were on what he was up to.
He said he’d shown his daughter his thoughts, and that a couple of weeks later, while with this daughter, he'd again crossed paths with this same man. It was on 34th Street, one of the busier areas in the city. He was curious about whether his daughter could pick him out of the crowd by relying on the description she’d read. He told her, “He’s here. I want you to look around and tell me who you think it is.” She looked around and picked someone out … and—it was the man he’d seen on the train.
I was fully vested in the conversation, but here’s where the story veers into strange. He said he wanted me to have the paragraph he’d written as he was curious as to what I could do with it. He said, and I quote, “Maybe you could turn him into a character in one of your stories.” The minute he said that, the new story I'd started on Wednesday popped into my head. I said that it might work since this new novel I’d begun was set in NY, and that since it was about a group, I’d have a lot of characters.
“Group?” he asked. He said that’s funny because his impression was that the man on the train was part of a group. In fact, he'd written down in the paragraph that this man was not only a member of a group, but that he was some sort of “recruiter.” Inside I went “Whoa!” My eyes widened as he went on. He said that he also intuitively picked up that this group held meetings underground. He said he didn’t know if I knew, but that NYC was filled with these tunnels and hiding places where people could gather and live. He also went on to describe an anomaly in Central Park that I will use in this upcoming story.
I nearly fell off my chair. He was describing the story I was writing to a T. I’d never mentioned anything about recruiters or underground tunnels and yet through symbiosis we'd managed to sit next to each other at the same time in the same place. Further, I'd written a word that was key in triggering this conversation. How unlikely is that? I'd say impossible. I took his card and said I’d email him and read what he’d written since the character would most likely be perfect.
So there it stands. I’m going to find out what this man saw—and wrote. I’m wondering if the character aligns with the one I started writing in that first scene, or whether this is a different one. If it aligns, it’ll give me validation that someone like that actually exists. If different, it’ll infuse the story with a firm foothold in reality since there is someone like that out there. Of course, there's another way of looking at things, and that is whether this "story" I think I'm writing is actually happening. Did I psychically pick up on something that is going on?
I should also mention that the fact this man is in law enforcement is something else I’d called to me. I want this story to be wedded in the language that officers use as they hunt down and try to infiltrate this group. I’m hoping that he’ll be intrigued enough to continue on this journey of two minds connecting in a very unique way.
This is the whole of my strange experience—so far. I’d love to hear about yours. If you’re a writer, please comment and tell me if you’ve ever had things “fill in” this way—or perhaps a different way. And if you’re not an author, have you ever called something to you? Perhaps to aid you in a project you were taking on? Do you believe that this means you're onto something important? Or that there's some significance to it beyond what you feel and think?
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts and hear your experiences.