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Not Your Usual Writing Advice


Writing our


“I find that I have painted my life—things happening in my life—without knowing.”

— Georgia O’Keefe

Almost everyone has heard of The Secret. It promotes the idea that we create our futures with our thoughts. I do believe our intentions and positive thinking impact our careers, but I’m curious concerning another possible aspect of creating our futures: that of writing them.

Dorothy Gilman, author of the popular Mrs. Polifax novels, wrote a short story in the 1950s, while she was part of what she then considered a perfect marriage. The main character, a woman, was involved in a marriage that ended when the heroine was 40. The story takes place at the end of the heroine’s life. As described by Gilman in her 1987 non-fiction book A New Kind of Country, “In four sentences [the heroine] dissects that marriage, with an insight and knowledge unknown to me at that time, using words that I would hear repeated almost verbatim to me by a psychiatrist some 10 years later, when I was 40. The encounter that is the heart of the story happened to me as well. It is as if, in writing the story, I was looking back on my own life from a point of time that had not occurred yet…as if something in me already knew.”

NINC member Claudia Dain (debuting this month in Women’s Fiction as Claudia Welch) wrote a book called To Burn, in which the heroine’s home was destroyed by fire. While Claudia was writing the book, her family’s house burned to the ground. A coincidence?

Facts surrounding NINC member Edie Claire’s first mystery are intriguing. “Never Buried was set in a very small borough of Pittsburgh and revolved around the discovery of an embalmed body that was stolen from a funeral home before the burial only to reappear in my heroine’s backyard a decade later. You figure that’s something that doesn’t happen every day, right? I was so clueless as to the legalities of the situation that I called the police chief and I told him the whole plot and let him advise me on what the criminal charges might be (e.g., abuse of a corpse) etc. A year or so after I finished the manuscript and a couple months before the book came out, a mummified body, wrapped in trash bags, dead for an indeterminate amount of time before being dumped, was discovered on a hillside in this very borough. Not only that, but the location where the body was found was less than 500 yards from the location of the corpse described in my book. I was sweating bullets for weeks, waiting for that police chief to show up on my doorstep with handcuffs!” (To read more on Edie’s story, check out her NINC blog, “I swear, Officer—that’s not my corpse!”)

Morgan Robertson wrote Futility: The Wreck of the Titan, a novel about a luxury cruise ship that was considered unsinkable until it hit an iceberg, sank, and lost many passengers due to a shortage of life boats. The similarity between the names and events involving the Titan and the Titanic are obvious. The coincidences become more interesting when one discovers the ships sank on the same date, and that Robertson wrote his novel in 1898, fifteen years before the Titanic sank during its first voyage.

NINC member Marianna Jameson experienced a similar unexplainable event with her novel Frozen Fire, as she described in her NINC blogs “I Know God Reads My Books” and “When Research Becomes Reality, or The Other Crystal Meth.” The anti-hero in Frozen Fire “has devised a way to bring methane hydrate (the   

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