The rare times the universe talks to me, I listen

I’m not a big believer in capital-s Signs.

By which I’m not speaking of Shyamalan’s okay 2002 offering, but rather signs from, if you will, the… well… universe.

We all know those people. The ones who feel as though one thing or another was clearly trying to tell them something. “The baby threw up on my blue blouse this morning so I changed to the lilac one and then as I turned from grabbing my Starbucks order in the food court, this guy backed right into me and, well, there goes my double ristretto venti soy nonfat iced vanilla frappuccino with foam all over me. Obviously the universe is trying to tell me I was not supposed to wear a blouse for that meeting today.”

That kind of thing, I don’t go for. At least not in a serious way.

But there are times when I can’t really chalk it up to anything else other than something bigger than me trying to direct me one way or the other.


After I’d finished a sizable part of my work in progress, it occurred to me that perhaps that specific part could be done a better way. Not just improved upon–like any art, writing can always be improved upon; the key is knowing when it’s as good as you can make it for now and move on to the next thing–but rather, changed wholesale for a better, cooler approach to telling that part of the story.

I made a note about it inline so I wouldn’t forget it (because oh, I’ll forget it) and kept that idea in the back of my mind as much as possible over this last week or two. And then a couple of nights ago I realized that I’m thinking more and more that it would be better done with that newer approach. I wasn’t totally sold on it, but I was leaning that way.

And as I was working out some specific details about how that fundamental change may operate, I realized that it would require some technology in this otherwise “realistic” story (albeit entirely fictional) that, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t exist yet. So I’d need to create a plausible technology that could make this thing happen.

No problem. I like such a challenge. Bring it.

But I hit a speed bump with it right away: I was thinking of a new material that I’ve heard about recently, that I’ve skimmed over articles about, and which may be central to making this technology sound like it could maybe even be real.

That material, though? Yeah, I had zero recollection of what it’s called. Did I mention I forget things?

And that’s no real problem. I figured, hey, a little research, a little googling of related aspects of it I can think of, and surely the name of this substance would reveal itself. Research can be a big part of story writing, and already has been for this one. Par for the course.

Cut to this afternoon, and I’m going through some emails that happen to include a weekly newsletter I subscribe to. And in that newsletter, which talks about good news items from around the world, is the name of that very material I couldn’t remember.

The universe (or the muse, or the Story Gods, or whatever you’d care to attribute it to) handed me the name of this newly invented substance just as I’m unsure whether or not to change an approach to a key part of the story that would, at least at the moment, use that same substance.

That’s more than what I’d call a coincidence.

That, dear reader, is a whisper on the wind… a nudge… a Sign.

So suffice to say, today’s portion of writing will be starting a separate file of a chunk of the story that will include said material, and will soon be ready to potentially replace the existing section with something bigger, better, and unquestionably cooler.

And when it comes to a story you’re hoping will get no small amount of attention, that’s never a bad thing.