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Power of Belief

June 13, 2013

So I’m back. I’ve been on the bottom of the south island of New Zealand, which feels like the end of the earth because, well, it is the end of the earth. And I have some news and some inspiration in the form of a writing prompt to share.

Last week I did an interview for an NPR affiliate on memoir writing. Here’s the link: . I also have a new short story (“Time Capsule”) out in The SUN magazine which you might enjoy, and my best news is that my book, The Story Within, New Insights and Inspiration for Writers (Penguin/Random House) has gone into second printing. (Yeah. Show me the money, that’s what I say…) But we don’t do this to get rich but to enrich our lives– which brings me to some writing inspiration.

It is a right brain thing, pattern seeking.  Brain science says we are remarkably unobservant. We see only in a narrow band width of available light, our peripheral vision is quite sightless, and in fact, we each have an enormous blind spot which is there all the time.

And yet…I was running along the sound in Dunedin, New Zealand last week and I stopped to stretch near the train tracks that parallel the water for at least two miles. It was early winter there, and early summer in the US, so the air was crisp. It was also high noon except that noon isn’t really “high” on the south island as the sun only gets to about 70 percent of its zenith at this time of year. Clover grows along the tracks and as I stood there listening to Maroon Five sing about covering some girl’s body like a tattoo, I thought, What are the chances that I’ll ever meet Adam Levine? What are the chances that Adam Levine is here in New Zealand too! Going for a run along the sound?

And to bolster that possibility I thought, what are the chances that I can just look down and spot a 4- leaf clover? Only one in 10,000 three-leaf clovers has 4 leaves so—not likely. But it doesn’t matter how improbable something is…it only matters that you believe it’s possible. Actually…it only matters that you look.

So I glanced down and thought just maybe I had spotted a 4- leaf clover near my left shoe. I touched it, untangling it from the leaves nearby and it was an ordinary clover. But because I was looking, I saw that the one right next to it had 4 perfect leaves.

Attention is the key to transformation.  (That clover is sitting on my desk as I write this.)

Write about someone searching for something unlikely—that’s your tension, that’s your plot. What do they need to find: A key? A rare fossil? A lost diploma? A check? A proof of purchase?  An apartment in NYC? To a record the death of a star just as it implodes? A cat that looks exactly like the one they lost while pet-sitting? A rare medicinal herb? A pharmacy open on Christmas Eve?

 The love of someone who doesn’t know they exist?

Show what happens—was the object right there in his or her blind spot? Was it a matter of intuition? Tenacity? Think you can’t write about this? Suppose you try believing you can?


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