Once upon a time, I thought that I should write about only big synchronicities, the ones that are, you know, life-changing, totally weird, defying all odds. And while I love those kinds of synchros, am awed and humbled by them, they aren’t that common unless you’re at a critical juncture in your life, facing major decisions and choices. The biggies do happen at other times – though not frequently – particularly when you need a quick answer to something that’s bugging you. I’ve had them, for example, when I’m stuck in my writing and am casting around for a direction in which to take my story.
Some years ago, when I was writing Black Water, the second book in a series featuring bookstore owner and psychic Mira Morales, I got stuck in the plot. Mira’s daughter had been abducted in her presence by a man with a cast on his arm (echoes of Ted Bundy) who came to shore on a deserted island where Mira and her young daughter, Annie, had gone for a picnic. He claimed his boat had run out of gas. He knocked Mira out and took Annie.
But took her where? How? Who was this guy? That was my dilemma.
I struggled with these questions for several days, then left for a writers’ conference where Nancy Pickard and I were slated to talk about writing. During a break, she and I sat outside in the sunlight, talking about our respective books, characters, plots. That night, I dreamed that my character, Mira, wrote me a letter:
Don’t worry. It’s going to work out. Take the story where you want it to go.
I’d never had a dream or any kind of experience like this, where my character spoke to me so directly. When I got home from the conference, I went back to work on the book and did what my instincts had told me all along to do. The abductor had taken Annie back through time, to the 1960s. He did this through an area in the water that had turned totally black – no fish, no seaweed, no sunlight, nothing lived there. This black water area actually had formed in the Florida keys in the 90s, a mystery to marine biologists, fishermen, and everyone else. At one point, it was nearly the size of Lake Okeechobee, the tenth largest fresh water lake in the U.S. A black hole in the Gulf of Mexico.
The idea worked. I realized it was my fear of the time travel elements that held me back.
But if I hadn’t been paying attention, this dream might have slipped right past me and the manuscript eventually might have ended up in a file called, Can’t finish. So although the synchro wasn’t life-altering for me, it was for Mira, who lived on for another three books.
On second thought, maybe this was life-altering in a creative sense. Black Water remains one of my personal favorites. So even the seemingly simple synchros may be more significant than we realize at the time.