On prescience and posting

Sometimes the world seems to send personal messages. Events that are most likely coincidental are imbued with portent according to the current goings on in your mind.

Last weekend, my family doctor was suggesting a topic for me to write a novel about and, for a change, I was able to answer, “well, actually, that’s what I’m working on.” He put that down to prescience.

I don’t know about foreknowledge of events but I have written things in the past that proved eerily prophetic. There was an article written for a university under-graduate magazine which was laughed out of the editorial meeting and never published. Not so many years later, during my stint as a crime reporter, I covered a story that echoed my hypothesis in the uni article – and this time it didn’t happen in my imagination.

Those of you who have read Five Parts Dead will know it focuses on a terrible car accident. During the final drafts of the novel there was an horrific accident in Melbourne’s northern suburbs that felt uncomfortably close to what I’d dreamed up.

Most recently, I woke up with an opening line for a short story in my mind. I had dreamed of a particular character and context but, because I couldn’t brain-dump immediately, much of the power of the dream had evaporated before I had a chance to sit and write.

When I did finish a draft of that story the Little Dragon, now 11, asked to read it. He then opined that the opening line gave away the ending. When your Dad is an author and you regularly serve as a crash test dummy for ideas, you get to speak your mind as a literary critic.

I sat with that feedback for a few days then found myself at a cinema watching Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz. There were some brief scenes at the beginning of the movie that definitely pointed to the ending – at least that’s how I saw it. (The professors I attended with had a completely different spin on the film.)

The movie sent me scurrying back here to my short story. I’d been debating whether to post it on this site, mainly because I don’t think I’ve nailed it. It’s flash fiction so it lacks polish but hopefully it still captures a moment, albeit imaginary. It’s called Missing and will be my next post, with the original opening line still in place.

I should note that when I got home from work last night the Little Dragon told me my short story had come true. Sure enough the evening news featured a very similar yarn. Spooky.

If you read Missing and agree with the Little Dragon, feel free to say so!

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