Well, here’s the thing.
My experience of the storyworlds that I share with you is that they are places that exist, and more to the point, people that exist. As in real flesh-and-blood people. I don’t feel that I am inventing them. They are just not in the same physical place as we are.
That’s not to say that I’m not capable of inventing the fictional when I need or want to. But to tell you the truth, that feels qualitatively different than what comes through when I’m in touch with this, for lack of a better word, “other existence” that I channel.
When I invent things, sometimes they work and are clever and I weave them in seamlessly; other times they lie flat and lifeless on the page and in my mind’s eye. But when I am recording this other reality, I perceive differently, and it comes through differently in my work. Or at least, it feels different to me. Hopefully that translates into something more vivid for you the reader, as well.
A large part of what compels me to write has to do with this visceral sense of direct contact with other places, people, and events. I see this in my mind’s eye like I am watching a movie; I dream it; I talk to these people; sometimes I smell the scents of the place or have other tactile sensations as well. At this point many will say, “well, you just have an active imagination.” No doubt that is true. But I think there is something more metaphysical and for that matter even spiritual going on in this process.
If I had to give it to you in a left-brainish nutshell, I’d say I think I am hopping across some quantum dimension and experiencing or perceiving co-existent events in some ‘otherwhere.’
If I had to give it to you in a right-brainish, spirit-attuned way, I will simply quote the inestimable Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, to you:
“I’m not making it up. I’m getting it down.”
Sorta like taking dictation from the Universe, you know? I am the amanuensis of others, from other places and times and bodies, who I tune in to like a radio receiver picking up ghost signals from beyond. That is not the totality of what I put down on the page, but that is at the heart of it.
So when someone asks me why I write these stories, I must answer quite honestly that it is because I have tuned into someone in some Otherwhere, someone with whom I have sympathetic energy, whom I can hear constantly on the cosmophone. Sometimes they are aware of me as well, and then our connection becomes doubly intense. I am with them, bound to them, for a time, as they live (or re-live) an experience that on some level has meaning for me. That is probably why I’m tuning in to them in the first place: like harmonic frequencies of a tuning fork, something in myself and my life is plucked by their resonant energy, and I cannot be at rest until I have played that tune through to its end.
It can take a long while – years, obviously, in some cases – but I come back to it again and again, like rubbing an aching joint you can’t leave alone, or hearing a tune you can’t get out of your head. The channel is not always clear; I work to grasp this Otherwhere, while my left brain must also work to make a certain kind of narrative sense out of what comes through. When I am clear about what is coming through, and what I must do with it, then I feel like a bard carrying a story-song down the road, only in this case it is across dimensions, and into this world.
I know I’m not the only author who experiences the influx of story not as an act of pure invention but as a tapping into something other, that lies beyond our normal bounds of experience. It has taken me a long while to figure out how to get out of my own way in this process and just let it happen. I’m still working on that, and when I let left-brain interfere too much, this other channel shuts down entirely. Or, my left brain warps the story that must come through: editing, critiquing, inventing plot complications, and doing other things that skew and warp it away from what it wants to be. (This has been one of my difficulties with the long-delayed Splintegrate.) Ultimately, translating the natural blurt into the polished story remains as much an act and art of craft as it ever has been for any storyteller.
The heart of the story and where it comes from, though, is (as you can see by my confessions above) something other than most people expect. If these vibrant other-realities fail to come alive and build a coherent story in my books, then that is my technical failing as a writer still honing her craft, and not a reflection on the essence of the stories (read: “other people’s experiences”) themselves.
And now that you know where, metaphysically/quantum-scientifically speaking, I get my stories from, and why I feel compelled to write them, I will share with you some (I hope) interesting specifics about the books I’ve written or am working on. I’ll be doing this in some occasional blog posts here. As I write them, I’ll tag them and give them links here and on their respective book pages so you can read about what went into the writing of Mainline, Kar Kalim, Truthsayer’s Apprentice, Splintegrate, and other works, at your convenience.