The Writing on the Wall

Since our kids had an extra-long winter break, my family snuck off for a post-holiday retreat in Santa Cruz. It was early January and my book had just gone out on submissions, which for most of us, means a long wait ahead. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with my writing time once my sons were back in school, but I knew I didn’t want to waste it. I had a bit of editing to do for my agent and some clean-up on the series she’s shopping (i.e., notes, reminders and a little researching) but after that, it would be time to move on.

To what, I wasn’t sure. I’m not one of those writers with a million cards up her sleeve, but I had two solid prospects – the reboot of my young adult urban fantasy series, and a Shiny New Idea which wasn’t so new any more as I’d been sitting on it for a year.

Choices, options. They’re good things, as is uncertainty, because it is one of the best pathways to creative flow. (At least for me.) So I tried not to worry about it. I figured I’d know when I needed to know. Still it was there, that question lurking at the back of my head. What next?

Then one morning, I wandered a sunny winter’s beach alone, and found myself pondering. I weighed and considered, toying with both ideas, sipping at them like connoisseur at a wine tasting. Eventually, my morning coffee caught up with me, so I braved the beach bathroom. It was chilly, empty, and far more clean than one might expect of such a place. And, as I stepped into the stall, I found a cosmic message waiting for me.

You see, the YA/UF is set in Santa Cruz, and it’s based in Norse mythology. Not all the Gods are featured, but these three – Freya, Thor and Wodin (his name is scrawled in small font in the grout) – all play major roles or have significant connections to some of the characters. Maybe it was the cold or the overload of caffeine, but something clicked in my head. It sounded like an envelope dropping into a metal mailbox. (Okay, maybe it was my wedding band clinking against the metal of the stall door, but indulge me here. I write fiction, remember?)

Just like that, my decision was made.

I bumped the UF to the front of the queue, pending the approval of my agent, then snapped a picture of this unusual graffiti and texted it to Katy, with the message, A sign? (She said yes, but she’s a fan of this particular story, so I wasn’t too surprised by her answer.) So, here I am, a quarter of the way through the writing and loving every minute of it. For me, that love is what counts most, what gets me to the desk every day and makes this crazy job worth it.

Sign from the universe, message from the Gods, weird serendipity or some very oddball graffiti…in the end it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes the writing’s on the wall, just waiting for you to read it.


13 responses to “The Writing on the Wall

  1. Message from Wodin, no doubt. It’s amazing where stories come from. I was told the inspiration for The Sound and the Fury was Faulkner seeing a pair of children’s underwear dangling from the branches of a tree. 🙂

  2. HAHAHA…Having children of my own, I can totally see how he made that leap.


  3. Norse mythology, a chilly beach, a cryptic message, scrawled on a bathroom wall… sounds like the start of a great screenplay… or one of my favorite bars. 😉


  4. Gee, Wally…I need to go bar hopping with you!


  5. I agree with Wally and Lisa!

  6. Stories for me almost always start with something like that – a piece of graffiti, two or three herons in the shallows, a newspaper headline – it’s always a phrase of some kind – and then voila! an entire novel.


  7. deborahblake1

    Of course it was a sign!!! I would have told you that right away 🙂

  8. Sign? That wasn’t a sign, that was what we call a clue-by-four. 😉


    Yes, the Universe often speaks to me with a frypan. 🙂

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