It’s been snowing and raining all day and I have looked forward to this moment of getting home, getting the fire built up, warding off the damp and chill. Which I have now done. But here’s the thing. The wind followed me home and it sounds like Halloween out there. I can hear it blowing loud along the river channel, and up high on the ridge tops. I don’t think it knows I’m down here under the trees in a sturdy home. Well, home felt pretty sturdy until a few minutes ago when the coyotes joined the wind. They have an eerie sound at the best of times let alone on a breezy night when I’m home by myself. But I have to laugh. Because really, here I am with full kerosene lanterns, fresh batteries in the head lamp, a roaring fire, dogs at my feet, writing waiting, and a shotgun. What is there to fear from wind and snow and coyotes? Nothing. Which is why I locked the door.

Here’s what I meant to write about though. On the radio this evening a man talked about a rare disorder where a person feels like they have ceased to exist, that the things they see and touch are not real. It’s possible that something in the brain between our thoughts and our perceptions disconnects for these people. I found that so creepy. Which is the real reason I locked the door. One patient thought she was dead. Think about that.

And then think about how, in writing, the story world, the imagination, the dream, become so real.

This past December we went to Wallace Idaho. I wanted to get winter photos of Nine Mile Cemetery for possible cover art for The Memory Keeper sequel. While there, we wanted breakfast, and I suggested a particular café.

And then remembered that the café doesn’t exist outside of the story. Oh, I based it on a similar one that does exist, but in a different location. In those few moments, my reality was actually my story. It was quite disorientating. I had to actually pause to discern which was real.

The light side is when we fall in love with a story and become immersed in that world so deeply that our stresses and disagreements and worries disappear for a short while.

The dark side is when we forget which is real and which imaginary, when the story becomes the truth. I sometimes think that is what has happened to a young man who lives near here and carries on conversations with people who only exist in his mind. Yes, I know the medical diagnosis of his condition, but sometimes I watch him talking to them and have to wonder.

 Who decides what’s real?

 Okay, I’m very glad the door is locked. Wonder if my husband can leave work early…


11 thoughts on “Reality

  1. funny! i totally love being immersed in a story o deeply that it feels almost real. You build up your pictures of the places and it comes alive when you are reading it. I just now had to leave such a wonderful place of ancient Ireland in the third book of the Sevenwater Trilogy. ahhh… I am still there in my mind… where is the next one? 🙂
    Oh and I can feel the warmth of your fire and can hear the sounds that surround you in my mind!
    I would be glad you locked the door, asking Arwen to sleep close to me…which she would do anyway when I am there. 😉
    Be safe!


    • Arwen is your guardian angel that’s for sure. I was embarrassed that I locked the door and had to show my independence by unlocking it shortly thereafter. There are more books in the Sevenwaters series you know…


  2. I just do not know what happens to my comments before I post them they disappear. I will try again. Sometimes in the evening, alone in my apartment the wind will begin banging things around and I get alittle spooked. Then my “punkin” cat will growl like a dog and stare at the door and I am scared. For a few minutes I forget that I am safe in the embrace of my “God” and ride the roller coaster of fear.
    Reality is a very personal thing. I believe we each have our own and to varying degrees subscribe to the “common reality”.


    • I’ve noticed my replies disappear, too. Off into their own reality maybe? I like the idea of having my reality, one that is separate from others. In a way we see that just in telling stories about our childhood. How you remember different things than I do. I wonder sometimes, why don’t I remember that? Or remember in the same way. Matter of fact a lot of times when I tell a story, I’ll hear ‘I don’t remember it happening like that!’ And fear. I don’t like the phrase ‘reptilian brain’ as I flash on that old show, ‘V’, but I do think we have an inherited sense or fear, of a time when we were more vulnerable. Hence the fear of the dark that so many have.


  3. This is what memory is. The versions of the story we tell ourselves. We are so attached to our memories, and yet they are not real– the story is only real while it’s happening, after that it’s an interpretation.


  4. This is my FAV of all your posts – LOVE stuff like this: what’s REAL?? And the wind that day was wonderful, clearing the muck from the pit way down the road from you!! I’ve lived where coyotes sang – I LOVED it. A few miles away is wilderness so dense they train in military survival there. I loved hearing how it was that day up your way. I finished today 18 handwritten pages of notes/quotes on a book about poetry – and that is the perfect setting, to be away, in that space, and participate in the reality of whatever you are reading or in whatever vision comes. I create that kind of isolation to invite what comes. WONderful sense of your space. LOVE your picture of that cemetery! Beautiful.


    • Good comments here, Pat. Someday you need to meet my sister Jani. I think, as writers, we have to be able to slip into different realities. How else could a story be so real to us that we could, in turn, make it real for others?


    • And then when you think that our brains take what we see and turn it into something we can understand…so who knows if what we think we are seeing is actually what’s there. Maybe the world is really completely different than what we see…okay this topic could lead to a lot of story ideas!


  5. Loooove this post, all of it. It’s something I think about with our travels too. I say I saw Paris — which Paris did I see, a Paris that exists to others, or a Paris that exists for only me? If I return there, will I find my Paris again, or was it only accessible to the particular me that I was there? And what about her, that self that I was in Paris (or Reykjavík or Istanbul)? Is she still here with me, now that I’m in Kyoto? Or did she only exist there? I need to write about this. 😉


    • I hope you do write about this as I’d love to see how you expand on it. The comments I get on this blog always make me think ‘that’s what I wanted to say and couldn’t’. What you talk about here is similar to one time when I picked up a diary I had written many years ago. I found myself wondering who that girl was, what became of her. And how my memories, seen from a distance, differed from what I had written at the time. I don’t think, if you returned, you would find your Paris again. You might walk the same streets but they will be different as you’ll look at them through different eyes. You’ll be different, and so what you see will be, too. Maybe that’s why we hang on to memories. Because we know they will never be repeated.


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