Gifts from the Spirit

A fellow named John, perhaps John the disciple, gets a revelation, a series of visions. As he believes the revelation has come by way of an angel, he writes down his visions.

I’m writing about Mount Shasta, California forty years before I first saw it, and the layout of the town comes to me. Later, a woman who has read the book writes and tells me she lived in Mount Shasta during that time, and she wonders how I got it exactly right.

A novel I’ve labored over most of my adult life, and as yet haven’t mastered, still calls me to go back and fix it, though I’ve been willing to let other manuscripts stay on the shelves for eternity.

Richard Shelton is sitting atop his roof when the phone rings. He’s expecting an important call, so he starts to climb down but slips and falls into a tree, which breaks his fall. He scurries out of the tree and runs into the house but misses the phone call, and in a flash, a whole poem comes to him. He writes it down and submits it to The New Yorker. They publish it. Years later, he can still say it was the only poem he has written that he didn’t revise.

When I tell stories about my relatives and other people I know, I get comments like “How come you get to meet all the interesting people?” One reason I like to use people I have known as the beginnings of characters I fictionalize, is that so many people I have known intrigue me. People we meet can be gifts from the spirit.

Gifts from the spirit may include such occurrences as confidence that although we haven’t a clue where the story is headed, it will find its way and lead us to some event that brings the previous stuff together. Even words, images or lines that spring to mind most unexpectedly may be gifts from the spirit.

For a whole book about writing and the spirit, click here.