Archive for November, 2011

I do have an uncanny ability to predict. I seem to possess an internal relationship-barometer, a gauge that sends a twinge to my gut when I encounter that special person. Take heed, it says, this is the real thing. Not that I shun meaningful relationships — I desire and need them like everyone else. But since I hold the kind of imagination that zooms anxiously into a future apt for catastrophe, I am wary, and I approach such things with caution.

These feelings of unease are not a reflection of the kind of company I keep. For the most part I have been fortunate. And besides, experiencing the full spectrum of emotion, from joy to heartbreak, is a necessary symptom of being alive, for which I am grateful.

But still, I have an inclination to anticipate disaster in the most innocuous of events. With a mind like this, no wonder I’ve begun to spin post-apocalyptic fiction. What else could fuel such writing?

What I am struggling with right now is not this negative aspect of the way I think, but the creepy realization that I can spot a major relationship coming — bang on. I’m referring to the uncommon connections that transpire only a few times in a lifespan; the profoundly altering ones whose impact is rarely forgotten.

But how do my instincts distinguish between the strangers I meet, between those who will touch my life deeply and those I will soon forget? How do I know?

One fateful morning early in the commencement of grade seven, I found myself bristling at such a stranger. She was a chubby eleven-year-old, taller than me, pitifully uniformed in unattractive navy bloomers with elasticized legs. I perched similarly clad, similarly round, with my butt on her running-shoes as instructed, pinning her feet to the floor while she performed sit-ups. For a moment my stomach churned. Amber lights flashed in my mind — warning!

She was the first of my predictions. The beginning of a handful of strangers who have altered my path significantly. I didn’t know at the time what my relationship-barometer was trying to tell me, of course. Together, we blossomed into adventuresome young women, sharing the secrets and life-changing escapades of our youth. Only years later did I recall that first foreshadowing moment — I had learned from experience to make the association.

By the time I met the man who would become my husband I understood my inner gauge well. He appeared at the front of the bus on a ski trip. Tall and broad-shouldered with jet-black hair, he stood confident in his ski-apparel. My innards tossed. I knew he was my destiny before we spoke.

It happened once online. Oh how time flies. Was it really that long ago I was reading the colourful opinion of an aspiring author when my gut wrenched? Flash forward to now. She’s a major success and I’m proud to say a friend. Her remarkable achievements gave me the inspiration I needed to finish my first novel. What could be more life-changing than that? My instincts had been right again.

I know I’m not telepathic but I wish I were. What I do believe is that we all possess the ability to go deeper into ourselves and dig up truths that we can only know by pure instinct. And what is instinct anyway? It is feeling — a complex and miraculous thing that happens in our brain. Animals achieve amazing feats by using their instincts. If we could ask them what it is, I bet they would say it is feeling. Instinct is natural even in humans. A talented musician taps into the feeling of the music and that’s when the magic transpires. We have to feel it, not think it.

 My instincts were right back in grade school when writing assignments caused me to feel excited. When I first put pen to paper I wrote mostly poems, drawing out my feelings as a way to understand myself. Later when I decided to write a novel I did not know what genre suited me. But having spent my life daydreaming about worst-case scenarios it wasn’t long before I knew. What if I woke up one day alone? What if everyone in the world died except me? What would it feel like?

 It was my mysterious ability to predict relationships that made me think about telepathy… to wonder how far we could push our instincts if our survival depended upon it. That combined with my obsession with disaster is how the idea of Ping was born.

 A few times I paid good money to have my fortune read. I was young then. But my gullible side still wants to believe it could be possible. After all, some of those predictions came true. A total stranger couldn’t possibly have guessed and yet they did.

 My new favourite show is The Mentalist. Mr. Jane is a consultant who uses his astute mental powers to get to the truth and solve crimes. He is a genius at picking up on subtle clues which makes him appear psychic. Perhaps that’s how that palm reader did it.

 There will always be an audience for the supernatural and the catastrophic. We can dive head-on into the delicious darkness. We can dwell on the edge of a shadow, stepping curiously towards shiny light-reflecting puddles, peeking into truths while we reside there. If we are completely immersed we will barely remember that we are safe in our ho-hum lives. As I continue spinning the sequel to Ping I strive to do this, to plunge inside my words with abandonment and feeling, keeping this need for escape at the forefront of my mind. It is my greatest pleasure to know that something I write has the power to take the reader away.



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