Have you ever heard a writer complain about his/her characters taking over the story he/she is writing? Taking on lives of their own, against all wishes of the writer? Or maybe the writer has marveled at the ease with which a story idea came into being, no matter how difficult the actual details or scenes became to write? How easy the history formed itself together, even if he/she can’t fit it into the current story?
Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself?
I’m not writing this to make anyone feel bad if they haven’t found the creative process so easy. After all, everybody’s process is different, and people get inspiration from different things.
Even so, have you ever wondered how our collective minds manage to create such vast and wondrous worlds? Yes, I’m mostly referring to the Scifi and Fantasy genres, but even some non-scifi/fantasy fiction works have tweaks and twists that are unique to their author. And, sometimes, they beg the question, “From where do they come?”
I grew up with a Catholic father and a more spiritual, less religious mother. They divorced when I was twelve, at which point I became more heavily involved in both aspects. One the one hand, I’ve gone through Confirmation in the Catholic Church, and I loved singing in the choir. One the other, I’ve gone through Reiki II attunement (if you haven’t heard of Reiki, think ‘laying on of hands to act as a channel for universal healing energy’, and you might get the gist), and I believe in Oneness, past lives, and the ability of some people to connect with and channel spiritual entities.
It might not come as a surprise, then, that my mother believes some of what I write is channeled.
And, honestly, I wonder it myself, sometimes.
My mom tells me a story occasionally about a channeling session she once attended. During such sessions, various people tap into and channel various spiritual entities: angels, Jesus, Buddha, and many other spiritual leaders who have moved on to a position that is more of spiritual guidance than physical experience. Whether or not you believe that this is possible (and I won’t ask you to if you don’t), the people who attend and experience these sessions do. As do I, which is one of the reasons I believe in Oneness and past lives.
Now, the story my mother tells involves the past life of one of the session’s participants. I can’t remember if she said he was channeling it, or claiming it, or if another channeler was claiming it, but, as my mother tells me, one of the participant’s past lives was claimed to be a Jedi. It was claimed that George Lucas actually channeled (at least some of) the world and story of the Star Wars trilogies, and that it actually was a ‘long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’.
You might scoff at this. That’s all right. I try not to force others to see the world as I do because I hate it when others do that to me (if you can’t tell, I no longer consider myself Christian). I simply lay this story out to make a point.
When writers come up with the worlds and stories for their books (and even other creators in other media) are they creating all of this in their minds or simply acting as spiritual observers to worlds that have existed, or will exist, in this universe or even alternate ones?
My opinion is that we do a combination of both. I have had too many ah-ha moments in the creation of my world and its history, as well as the constantly increasing chain of stories to write in it, to believe that there isn’t some higher knowledge into which I am tapping.
Yes, I make my own tweaks to the world. For example, there is no way the people on another world could actually speak English, German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese, even under different names. But aspects of each language and culture are what speak to me when I choose them for my cultures, not specifically the languages themselves.
But I sometimes believe that it’s the channeling that gives this world to me and drives me to share it with others.
I’m not the only writer who might feel this way, either. My best friend and roommate, who has done the occasional writing throughout his life, once thought he was not capable of writing something unless it was based on real-world people and situations. Then, he began to dream of a fantastical world with deities and their champions, and now the characters won’t shut up. They drive him to write their stories.
I once teased him that I infected him with the desire to write fantasy, but it might be more than that. We’ll probably never know the truth of it, but that won’t keep me from wondering.
Are we the ultimate creators of the stories we write? Or are we often spiritual observers, accessing other worlds that we are driven to share with our own?