Snowflakes On Your Tongue
Ever tried to catch a snowflake on your tongue? For those of you in a warmer climate, I'll bet you've at least thought about it. Time for some PCT's-Positive CJ Thoughts. A little more whimsical maybe, but certainly positive.
I'll bet at least once, you've put your hand out the open car window and played airplane by moving it up and down against the resistance? Have you ever looked up into a gorgeous blue sky and looked for animals and shapes in fluffy white clouds?
How many of us can say we've sprawled out on our our backs in the grass and looked up into a midnight sky to watch the stars twinkle or the blinking red lights of a plane as it makes its way to its destination?
The phrase 'childlike wonder' has been running through my head. My wife and I spend a great deal of time with my eight year old nephew who is ALWAYS asking questions. If you read my book, 'frame by frame' you will remember my character 'Wunder'. His questions were based on the never-ending inquisition my nephew puts us through. One in particular, had to do with whether I thought there really were Ninja Turtles in the sewers.
To this day he brings me such joy and I can't help but smile with love as he listens to one of us explain the solar eclipse, or the differences in the three states of matter. Endless questions like- Since we live in the mountains and "closer to the sun" as he put it, why are we colder? He constantly wants to know….why?
Now, I know he's not unique in this, most kids his age are exactly this way. If only you could be a fly on the wall with some of our conversations. A few years ago, we were delivering produce from the farm and as we drove, a Corvette went by. He said to me, "That's my favorite car and I'll take it everywhere with me, even when I go to heaven." As I chuckled, I tried to explain to a seven year old little boy, that you couldn't take a car to heaven because only things with a soul could enter. (No offense to any car lovers out there that believe every classic car has a soul.)
We'd been having a lot of discussion about heaven and where people we love go when they die, and what heaven was, not too long before his Corvette comment. Now I know, not everyone is a believer in such things and I won't tell you that I'm always happy with organized religion, but I was trying to work out how we explain to an innocent, the concepts of God and heaven. Trying to be as visual as I could, I explained that we all have a soul, kind of like, a shadow that travels with us. When we die, that shadow travels to another place in the sunlight that we can't see.
In this case, we were talking about his great grandfather, aka my father in law, who had passed. Regardless of the 'heaven and souls' discussion- he asked me IF a car had a soul where would it go to if it didn't get into heaven. I told him the junk yard. Then the follow up came, 'but what if it was good car'? I'm telling you, he keeps digging, layer by layer, this kid. "I told him probably in a museum." He was satisfied with that answer, until his next layer of questions that came back around to humans going to heaven. At that point, I told him ask Pastor R on Sunday, since she knows way more stuff than I do. A few seconds later, we went back to talking about tractors and firefighting. He's got a pretty wide set of interests.
When all was said and done, we'd gone around the world. Talked about science, animals, countries and oceans, movies and cartoons. My point is, he was thirsting for the knowledge of things he didn't understand or had never seen. He was looking at each discussion with an open mind and child-like wonder. He's always taking everything in, deciding what he can believe in and what he can't, what's good and bad, light and dark.
When he sees his friends, at this point, it doesn't appear that he sees skin color- because WE haven't taught him to. He doesn't question it, he just believes it.
He doesn't see gay or straight as good or bad, because we've taught him to respect all people. We do have to work with him on the "boy's don't wear pink"- That comes from a parental influence we can't change. He doesn't hate anything- well except maybe making his bed and spelling words.
He is fascinated with all things space and science. He is still a blank slate and we are all trying very hard to fill that slate with positive information while protecting him from the evil that exists. He still believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and magic.
I enjoy pushing aside my adult perceptions and skepticism, while I try to look at things through his wide eyes. As adults we are already jaded by our environment and our influences, the life lessons we've learned- sometimes at great pains.
As a fiction writer, I need you to suspend belief in certain things and do so because I ask.
I ask you to set aside the incredulity of someone falling in love at first sight, or at least at an accelerated pace. (Sorry folks, it happens. Fifteen years later and I'm still in love). I ask that you accept that seven days will go by in the blink of an eye, or in the case of a paranormal or sci-fi book, to imagine things or circumstances we've never experienced personally. THAT's the beauty of fiction. It still must be plausible and it's my mission and honor, to paint a vivid story with characters you can see and hear in your head.
I need to set the scene so you can smell the ocean and feel the sand beneath your feet, hear the wind through the autumn leaves and smell the damp earth, see the millions of stars twinkling on the velvet blanket in a midnight sky.
That's what I love about writing. I can paint you a picture with a few choice words and have you feel the tension and the drama- or passion for that matter. Come on… admit it, a well written love scene will make you sweat and your pulse pound..I'll leave it at that.
There is an indescribable joy in taking a small thought or experience and fleshing it out into two hundred pages of a story. It is the most exciting and frustrating thing I've ever done as a solitary pursuit. I'm always so happy when I get to the point of letting someone else read it. Then of course, I sit on pins and needles waiting for their reaction. "Is it crap? Is it believable? Is it funny, sad, romantic enough?" Then there's always the fear..'Okay my first book did well, but will my second?'
I always feel better when someone tells me to write faster or asks when is the next book coming because it means they liked the first and are anticipating the next. I know I do that with my favorite authors and I am blessed to read some incredible stories they create.
My current work in progress will ask you to suspend belief in more than one way and more than just once. Can we believe that our loved ones would want us to keep living well after they're gone? Can we expand our understanding of the hereafter enough to question whether it's possible for them to nudge people, to cause enough coincidences to change a course of action, or to even speak to us from the great hereafter? I hope I can as I lead my two main characters through a journey to each other.
What about in the real world? Can we suspend our disbelief in what we read, enough to believe in something different?
Think about magic for a minute. Merriam-Webster has a few definitions I like- "an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source or : the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand". Illusionists/Magicians like Penn and Teller,
and Criss Angel,
have made millions by convincing us to suspend our belief and be amazed by what we think we see. AND we WANT TO!
Some entertainment mediums do a much better job with the illusion and I believe literature still does it best. I can honestly tell you I'd rather read a book than watch a movie or a television show. I've worked in emergency response for thirty years so it's INCREDIBLY difficult for me to watch a show about firefighting because I CANNOT suspend my belief in what I know happens in real life and what is impossible or irresponsible. It might make for great drama, but all I can think while I'm watching it is HOW STUPID. To which my wife will normally look over at me and remind me it's television. Usually she'll say, "It's not real, it's for entertainment." Well trust me, it doesn't entertain me, it IRRITATES ME!
Damn house is burning down with people hanging out the windows and the jacklegs who are supposed to make it better…well they're down on the street looking at it with hands on our hips trying to deal with the latest tiff with our significant other or how hot someone looks (insert eye roll)…uh uh. Time to go to work folks, leave that shit in the station and put some FREAKING WATER ON IT. WET STUFF ON THE RED STUFF. But I digress. (PCT's, PCT's, PCT's- POSITIVE CJ THOUGHTS DAMMIT)
See this is why I'm not allowed to watch firefighter shows. I really want to watch the new one that's a spin on Grey's Anatomy but even the previews I've seen piss me off, so I'll likely bury my head in a book, or better yet write one! I know a ton of police officers that feel the same about solving a complicated murder in sixty minutes or less, often with a tear- filled confession on one of the CSI programs. Ugh. Picture this, juries are now having issues with what's called the CSI syndrom...ART affecting Life, but not in such a good way.
The point is entertainment can help us suspend our disbelief if done WELL. We can believe in Vampires, Werewolves, Fairies, Witches and Aliens. We can believe in life after death, love at first sight, fortune and fate, and yes, even in worlds that don't exist- IF SOMEONE DOES A GOOD JOB OF CREATING IT!
We can open the pages of a book and watch magic come to life. As a reader, I love to trust an author that much.
In return, we as authors have a great responsibility to help them open their eyes with that same child like wonder my eight year old nephew shows every day. We must continue to ask why, as a reader. In turn, as a writer, we need to use incredible descriptions to paint that vivid picture so that our readers can create the "movie in their head."
For now, use your childlike wonder EVERY TIME you can. Read an awesome book and suspend your belief in reality for just a little bit. Take time to turn your face to the sky and catch a gently falling snowflake on your tongue. Maybe this time, just this once, it will taste like vanilla ice cream.
As always, I am a work in progress and I promise, I'm working on a new release. Until then, my current debut novel, 'frame by frame' ,is available at all your favorite online retail sites.