In my recent interview with author/artist Uvi Poznansky (see below), we talked about my writing habits. I mentioned how, when writing fiction, I receive what I call “downloads” from the universe. These moments of inspiration often arrive whole, and I’m given an entire scene in my mind, complete with plot, setting and dialogue, all at once as I’m working at the keyboard. I received several of them as I wrote my latest novel, The 26th Game.
The compelling facet of these downloads, other than their arriving in totality, is that they are most often scenes of which I had no prior thoughts. Not even an inkling. As I work my way through a piece of fiction, many of the scenes have been planned ahead of time. I’ve made notes on setting, scribbled snippets of dialogue, developed plot points, usually in longhand in a small notebook or on a legal pad. But as I stir these into a readable stew, invariably, ideas that had never crossed my mind appear in the work. This occurs in real time, as if I am merely recording them from wherever they’d already been written, out there in the ether. I have composed numerous sentences, paragraphs and scenes, word for word, out of thin air, without ever having previously contemplated the particular idea.
How is this possible? Some metaphysicians have said that all books are already written, and the author becomes connected to the place where these works are “stored,” at some kind of “celestial archive.” The author merely transcribes the text, acting as a conduit from the archive to the paper or Word document. Since I know this process happens, having experienced it countless times, for me this explanation is as good as any. Because I truly don’t know how it works. I only know that it is real.
The late Robert James Waller told me he wrote The Bridges of Madison County in ten days. He was quoted as saying, “The universe just gave it to me.” While Bob might have used different words to explain the source of his fiction, I am certain he was describing the same download process as I have. No doubt, many other authors can attest to having experienced this spontaneous creativity. It is part of the beautiful mystery of creation, and every author owes a debt of gratitude to the Muse, Celestial Archive, Source, Universe, or whatever name he or she chooses to call it.