Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Writing: Deja vu

Welcome to a peek inside my head. You've been told repeatedly not to ask a writer where the ideas come from, and you do it anyway. It's inevitable, so let's talk deja vu. As a writer I spend my days making up stuff with the intent of convincing people it's all real. This has the potential to get confusing, one might think, but as far as I can tell, I'm not crazy yet. True, I sometimes have to double check that I really did take out the trash instead of having just thought about doing it. I know how vivid my imagination is and I've learned to adapt. Most of the time I remember I'm supposed to take out the trash today and then promptly forget about it only to remember that I didn't do it the next day.

The human mind and memory is a funny thing. I experience deja vu from time to time and the first thing that runs through my mind when it happens is every story I've every written. After a lifetime of reading, writing, and movies a lot of things that never really happened are familiar to me, and I blame most of my perceived deja vu moments on one of those three sources, because there's a comfort to be found in believing your own head's not making stuff up just to mess with you.

The concept of deja vu is older than the proliferation of media in the lives of man. There are several schools of thought concerning the deja vu sensation, some more plausible than others. I write paranormal stories, so ESP and past lives come to my mind. Trying to pass off deja vu at the opening of a newly built restaurant as a past life experience is a bit of a stretch, unless it's a retro d├ęcor designed by a reincarnated star crossed lover.

Who doesn't remember him. He can't stop the burning of his heart and he kills her husband to possess her once again - only to commit suicide when he finds out she never really loved him. Arranged marriages of the eighteenth century weren't all they were cracked up to be.

No HEA's in my worlds. Maybe I should stick to reading romance and leave the writing of to someone who likes to explore their warm fuzzy side.  

We can consider the physiological way the brain works. If I combine the idea of deja vu with the tons of information coming into our minds to be processed and tucked away for future use, I might have something. Amidst all this incoming information are the hints that something isn't right, and your subconscious mind, the heavy processing unit behind that quick wit of yours, wants you to know this, but its busy working and hasn't gotten all the details properly filed into a coherent thought yet.

So your subconscious mind works out a quick and dirty solution. It tosses out the equivalent of mental indigestion. Your conscious mind, the one looking at the heavy velvet drapes that remind you of Aunt Veda's house as it tallies up how much the monstrosities must have cost, mixes it with your thoughts and interprets the warning as a weird feeling of familiarity.

Your protagonists mind is telling her to pay attention to her surroundings. She's seen these people before and tonight something's off kilter. All the information coming into her head knows this. It's the job of putting it into the right context that pulls her out of a deep sleep a week later, suddenly knowing who poisoned the punch - and there's the story.

One of the more plausible deja vu theories postulates that deja vu is the brain mistaking the present for the past. Not past as in past lives, but specifically your past. Your brain meant to file the input under ten p.m. but it slipped into the ten a.m. file instead. Meanwhile the rest of your brain knows it's past your bedtime and acts accordingly. No wonder I keep forgetting the trash.

Don't be the only one who hasn't read Girl Found.

Also available on Scribd and Oyster and wherever ebooks can be purchased.

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