I got a new bed a few weeks ago. It stands lower to the floor than my old bed, which was where I stored several bins and boxes—shoes, purses, winter scarves and a couple filled with notes and manuscripts of old but not-dead-yet novels. These bins and boxes now reside in my workspace and will until I can either clean them out, thin them down, or find another place to store them.
A few days ago, for some reason I don’t know, I opened one of the boxes—the one labeled “All That Isn’t Singing.” Inside were twenty-seven spiral-bound notebooks, the kind I use for writing practice and for notebook drafts of books. “All That Isn’t Singing,” is my second many-drafts-yet-still-not-right novel. (The first is in another box that was under the old bed.) I pulled out and opened Notebook #1 from the first box.
Instead of something from the novel, my scrawly, messy handwriting revealed pages of writing describing the trip my husband Tom and I took in our camper in the late fall and early winter of 1990, shortly before Tom died. We’d driven across the country, up the East Coast to Canada then back down through Appalachia to North Carolina where we left the camper for a week in the Caribbean then drove back across the US to San Diego again. It was our last trip together.
Here’s the thing: I had just been writing about this very trip last week in the notebook draft of my memoir. The original account, the one I found in that old novel draft notebook, written in 2004, contained details I’d forgotten in writing the current iteration of the journey. Details that would make the new version much richer.
Coincidence? Synchronicity? Some mysterious mojo at work in the Universe? One of those amazing events that occur during the act of creating? “Big Magic,” Elizabeth Gilbert calls it in her book of that name. Big Magic indeed!
Here’s a quote from that book: “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
This isn’t the first occurrence of such synchronicity during the drafting of this memoir, or either of those novels or so many of the other creative works I’ve been involved with. In fact, they’ve happened with such frequency I could almost write a book about them.
What about you? Ever experience any of that “Big Magic”?