Exploding Heads and A Message from the Universe

Monday night I went to hear A L Kennedy read from The Blue Book – about which more later. While introducing her, our tutor, Carole Burns, mentioned that Kennedy’s website had a section for writers. So, of course, when I got home I checked it out, including a page called “Possibly Encouraging Quotes”. This was the first one:

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffective. Concerning all acts of creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans – that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed would come their way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it – begin it now.”

See that bit in bold? Look familiar to you? Check out my blog header – the tag line on the right? Uh huh.

Then yesterday I headed over to Earful of Cider. In her Random Thursday posting, Sarah had a subsection entitled “So You Want to FTF?” Which of course I do. Sarah recommended a visit to Timothy Hallinan’s website. I always do what Sarah says, so I hit the link and started reading and here’s what I found on page two of Hallinan’s  Finish Your Novel pages:

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it – for action has magic and grace in it.”

That’s when my head exploded. That Goethe quote appearing two times in the same week  - the quote I chose a year ago when I revamped my blog and decided to get serious about writing.

Then today (hell yeah, there’s more) I had to run a damn errand. Driving along the highway motorway, I glanced at the car in front of me and my head exploded again:


I know. I’m no MSB. I couldn’t get a closer shot. Luckily, we both took the next exit and there was a red light:

See that license number plate?

 P327 FTF 

The universe is speaking to me. Of that I am certain. And it’s telling me to Finish the Fucker.

37 thoughts on “Exploding Heads and A Message from the Universe

    • I just hope the driver of the FTF car wasn’t paying close attention to the lunatic behind him following too closely and wildly brandishing her iPhone.

    • You say spooky man, and I immediately remember a professor who called Margaret Atwood “that spooky woman.”

      My favorite Atwood book is CAT’S EYE. P 327 opens with: “I continue east along Queen Street, still a little dizzy from the wine at lunch. Tipsy was once the word. Alcohol’s a depressant, it will let me down later, but right now I’m jaunty, I hum to myself, mouth slightly open.”

  1. Wow, Downith—better pay attention to the universe, or who knows how it might try to grab your attention next . . .

    (You always do what I say? Really? Hmmm . . . :D )

  2. No way! No fucking way!!! My head is exploding all over the place just from seeing it here —- I can’t imagine how you took it all in.

    I recently imagined, what if I hadn’t started this blog? What if I hadn’t found my way over to Betsy’s where I found you all? What if I’d never met those of you I’ve met in person, which all started when I said I’d been in a used bookstore in Kentucky and AmyG sent me an e-mail saying, basically, that’s close to me, to where I live. As much of a slog as 2011 was for my manuscript, I would have never made it without all of you. And that’s an understatement.

    All because one day I was alone in a hotel room and thought, maybe for kicks I should start a blog…

    • Oh God, you should have seen me trying to take the damn picture at the red light. I was FRANTIC, because he was going straight on after that and I was going around the roundabout and i HAD to get the damn photo. It mattered!

      And, speaking of Betsy, it was Carole Burns, my tutor, mentioned above, who told me about Betsy’s blog 2 years ago which ties this all up rather well.

  3. I love it! No more excuses. Get to it! My ms is due on April 10th. I challenge you to beat me. Otherwise, summer rolls around again and you know what happens over the summer…. no writing.

      • I cheated, Downith. I bought myself a seat at a conference in May. I’m meeting with one of the top agents on my list and the material is due to her in April. Another agent on my list is attending too. I signed up for her seminar as well. After your excellent feedback, I’m feeling confident enough to at least give it a try. And I feel a face to face has to be an easier sell than a letter?

  4. Finish the thing. Then you can go to work on the next one. If I could get through the brick wall I got through today, which had stopped my book dead for weeks, anyone can get to the end of the story.

      • Thanks so much. At the moment I’m no advertisement for my own guidance, stuck in the Dread Middle of yet another book.

        And this seems to happen to me nearly all the time. (Actually, make that all the time.) Ot feels just as real and just as final on this book as it did on every other book. I wrote a book in 2010 that was a finalist for the 2011 Edgar and Macavity awards, and I actually threw it out when I was about 55% of the way through. The only thing that prevented me from junking it altogether and starting a new one was an email from a fan who said he loved the series, and especially the one I’d given up on and almost abandoned in 2009.

        So now I’m once again in the joyless trudge, day by day, of pushing a book through a stone wall. And it’s no fun at all, but I know from personal experience that there’s no other way to get through that wall, and that once I do, writing the book will once again feel more like play than work.

        Perhaps most surprising, when I go back into the completed book to start revising, I’ll probably find that some of the material written during this joyless trudge is just as good (or, at any rate, no worse) than the stuff I enjoyed writing. If I’ve learned one important thing out of all this, it’s that we usually have no idea at the time whether we’re writing well or badly. And that alone is enough to keep me going when the muses are obviously on vacation in the Caribbean.

  5. This post actually got me all riled up to start my next novel…soon I, too, will be chanting FTF!

    I think I love the “for action has magic and grace in it” part of the “begin it” quote the most, and that’s the part I haven’t seen tossed around a lot. It’s so true that just actually *doing* something makes at least a little magic spark up.

    Thanks for the much-needed inspiration. Also, the license plate (number plate sounds more civilized, somehow) cracked me up.

  6. I am dying to get back to the FTF zone. I have spent way too much time on editing and now promotion lately, with just some time to scribble out some short stories in between. Enjoy the push to the end, just think of how divine it will feel afterwards (before the editing and promotion kick in!) The Book Festival sounds like a great idea. I went to my first in Matera two years ago and it was an eye-opener in terms of pitching, speaking with other writers, organising objectives, contacts, plus mouth-watering food. Why not come across to Matera in September? You can also meet agents and editors face-to-face and it’s a lovely small festival.

  7. Pingback: Sending Mittens When They Want A Hat | writeitdown-ith

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