This will never become a book.

2012 September 25 Tuesday

Fishy Signs

Filed under: synchronicity — kdefg @ 23:17

Synchronicity is a personal thing, as I understand the definition. Two people might see the same objects or events occur in juxtaposition, and they may or may not both call it a coincidence.  It only becomes synchronicity in the mind of the one who sees an added layer of meaning or significance revealed in the moment.  For me, sometimes, synchronicity can simply be the Universe winking at me.

Sunday morning, early, more early than usual, I was up and about after getting very little sleep the night before.  I was already out in the driveway, pulling the car out, getting ready to make a long drive into the city.  As I closed the garage door, I noticed bits of trash on the pavement.  Our neighbors do not seem to respect the imaginary line which divides our properties, and I frequently find evidence of their litter on my side.

I picked up one bit, a dirty popsicle stick, planning to pitch it back into their yard, but my eyes caught a glimpse of text printed on the wood.  It was a riddle, the kind meant for grade school children to exchange and giggle over its cleverness.  I had heard this one before, and never thought it to be particularly funny.  For no particular reason, I decided to drop the stick back where I had found it, in my own driveway.

I got in my car, still operating on mental auto-pilot, and drove off in the direction of coffee.  I had to force myself to think about my eventual destination and which route into the city I should choose.  It was only in that moment of clarity that I made the connection — the riddle was a commentary on the event I was driving to!

What did the fish name its offspring?   GILL

Can you guess where I was headed?  It was the PKD Festival, organized by one David Gill.  Realizing that I had just seen the name GILL on a popsicle stick made me laugh.  Then the connection between Philip K. Dick and the symbol of a fish came to mind, and I was suddenly in awe at the Universe and its sense of humor. (If you don’t know about the significance of PKD and the fish symbol, click there for a quick description.)

I saw David many times over the course of that two-day festival, but I never got the chance to tell him about my revelation.  Fortunately, when I got home late on Sunday night, the popsicle stick was still there, waiting for me to pick it up again.  I’m saving it now, as a souvenir.

Christian Fish Symbol

Christian Fish Symbol

2012 September 13 Thursday

Soul Search

Filed under: reality — kdefg @ 11:15

I allow myself cycles of madness, days in which I obsess about the meaning of consciousness.  I feel like I am just on the verge of figuring it all out, like a great epiphany is hovering in space just above my head, tauntingly out of reach.  I read articles by scientists and pick up snippets of dialog from fiction writers, and in my head I try to blend them into a grand unified theory of life, the universe, and, you know, everything.  And then it dissolves, fades, leaving me back in the mundane world, and my madness goes away until the next cycle.

One snippet which has haunted me this week came from Babylon 5:

… the soul is a non-localized phenomenon … the universe itself is conscious in a way that we can never truly understand … We are the universe trying to understand itself.

That last sentence is also a quote by Carl Sagan.  I didn’t bother to research which source said it first. The concept is sprinkled across many other sites that I read.  Compare that to this bit from a neuroscience article:

… self-awareness corresponds to a brain process that cannot be localized to a single region of the brain …  self-awareness emerges from much more distributed interactions among networks of brain regions.

Non-localized activity in the brain gives rise to the illusion that we exist in a single point of awareness.  Our thoughts do not take up space, yet we feel like we exist inside a bubble looking outward from within the brain.  Could we really come from a higher dimension, and are limited by the way we “poke through” this physical plane to emerge as individuals?

During the month of August, I wrote a story based in a universe in which humans could actually “see” the field of energy which supports consciousness. I struggled with terminology, but tried to make it clear that my characters did not believe in the existence of souls.  The spirits they see are the presence of self-aware thought caused by human life itself.  After death, there is nothing to generate that self-awareness. What remains is an echo in the ether, like ripples on pond.

For narrative purposes, I deliberately excluded animals from this spiritual energy field.  One reason was that animals make for poor dialog, but mostly it was because I just needed my main character to question what it means to be human.  Whether or not animals are intelligent, emotional, conscious, sentient, or self-aware is often debated in contrast with the notion of a human soul.  It was easier for me to bypass that issue by inventing another quality which is unique to humans.  Such is the privilege of writing fiction.

Scientists can test almost every aspect of consciousness, but we may never know whether or not animals have meta thoughts.  Are animals aware that they are aware? Do they think about thinking?  Is the soul more than just the entity having these kinds of thoughts, or the essence of something higher which is watching itself have these thoughts?

The madness returns.

 

2012 September 2 Sunday

Winner!

Filed under: writing — kdefg @ 22:00

Camp NaNoWriMo lasted for 31 days, and I wrote something on every day.  I started with an idea, not even a plot, just a scenario and a character, and from that I built a world.  It eventually became a story, and I now have a draft of 50,256 words (more or less) which could very well become a real novel one day.  For now, I bask in the winner’s circle.

It’s funny how important this milestone is to me now.  When I first heard about NaNoWriMo many years ago, I didn’t understand how there could be so many winners.  What kind of contest was this?  What could all those people win?  When I signed up for my first year, but cranked out less than 22k words by the end of the month, I didn’t feel like I had lost.  I wasn’t in a competition with anyone else, and I didn’t go into it with any expectations.  The community did such a good job of making me feel special just for giving it a try, that I never felt like I had let myself down.  I had accomplished all that I wanted to, which was just to see what would happen if I tried to be creative, and to have fun doing so.  Back then, winning had no real meaning for me.

Now my desktop wallpaper is a winner’s certificate.  My browser’s home page is a winner’s badge.  After years of trying and failing — and saying it didn’t really matter anyway — reaching that 50k finish line has taken on a new meaning.  You would think that I could put the feeling into better words, now that I’m a real writer.  *wink*

I hope my novel has a future.  For one thing, I need to think of an actual ending!  To be honest, when I was typing on that last day, and checking my word count every 15 minutes, I was not trying to end the entire story arc.  I just wanted to hit my deadline.  I stopped in the middle of a scene, with the tension building.  I reached a climax with a great reveal, but didn’t give the characters time to react to it.  The forces of good and evil were poised to confront one another, but I stopped writing.  I have no idea what should happen next!

With my official status as a winner, I am entitled to a discount off Scrivener software.  I hear great things about it, and the price seems worth it to me.  For all four NaNoWriMo attempts, I’ve gone in without an outline, and I finally have come out with an appreciation for structure.  My novel* is a rambling stream of nuggets in need of better organization.

*(wow, it sure feels strange to use that phrase.  “My novel” sounds so pretentious, and premature, but “my draft” lacks a sense of pride.  A draft is something I could easily put in a drawer and forget about, but a novel begs to be completed.  I even bought a USB memory stick on a strap which says MY*NOVEL with the NaNoWriMo logo on it.  I’ll bet I would look really pretentious wearing it as a bracelet.)

So now I need to reassess my goals for this blog.  Writing something every day is still a good idea, as I need a bit of discipline in my life.  I could continue with random essays, unscheduled bits of fiction, and the themes about reality I’ve used in the past.  My head is still swimming with the subjects I spent the past month writing about, but all the advice I read says I should walk away from the novel and take a break before thinking about rewrites.

I don’t know what comes next, but for now: WINNER!

 

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