I think the art of writing fiction is to pull from genuine emotions and experiences and then write a story around those emotions and experiences. As far as The Amazing Morse stories go, there is a good deal of me in them, but it is so mixed in with pure imagination that the reader could easily confuse the two. So just since I’ve had people confuse one with the other, I thought I’d share a few examples of real life that found their way into my first novel, The Amazing Morse.
I found myself sitting in my little carpeted-walled cubicle at work one day, and it dawned on me that this was it, this was my life. This wasn’t a dress rehearsal, it wasn’t something I was doing for the moment, this was my life! All those childhood dreams of being an astronaut, a baseball player, a writer, none of that was what my life was all about. The panic set in and it set in hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot worse jobs, but I always knew they were just something that got me by until my real life began. But I was trapped now with all the responsibilities that being an adult with a family brings. Life is supposed to magical, and here I was with all of the magic drained away, leaving only the sensible and practical.
This was a strong emotion and I wanted to share it. I’m rather proud of the story I built up to go around it, a magician who was not doing what he loved. He had a phobia of contained spaces, and so could not be an escape artist like Houdini, and therefore did not believe in himself enough to pursue his dreams. Dave Morse could have been nothing else but a magician.
In another part of the book, I have Dave recollecting something he’d heard a concert pianist say about performing and relating it to his performing magic on stage. There is a freedom performing an art that one is well practiced in, even when repeating the same trick or piece thousands of times. One feels connected to a flow, similar to what Michael Jordan described as being in “the zone”. The description of playing a piano piece where all the notes are written and yet bringing one’s own emotion and interpretation to it is from my own experience. While certainly no concert pianist, I have had the opportunity to develop a certain amount of technique on the piano. I had one glorious summer of being laid-off and I played my piano at least two hours every day. I got good enough with a fair amount of pieces that I found myself watching my fingers play while not being conscious of moving them. I can feel the same feeling sometimes while writing, when my thoughts fly and my pen or my typing hurry in pursuit. It is a wonderful feeling to have, like finding a beautiful place in nature where one can sit and contemplate and simply be.
There is also an experience that I had which I included in The Amazing Morse. While driving down the road with a friend one day, he noticed a little sign for a psychic, or a fortune teller, or something on that order. My friend, Kevin, and I always seemed to find the unusual when we were together. Intrigued, we talked each other into going in. Stepping inside, I had the most unsettling feeling go right through my body as though a wave went through me and took some part of me along with it. To this day, I can’t explain what that was about, but it has stayed with me. That was the very first kernel of story, around which everything else grew. A visit to an odd looking psychic (she really was rather odd-looking) that seemed to cause a change in someone. The story grew slowly as it gathered both from my life experiences and my imagination. And that is what I have found writing fiction to be, both reality and fantasy. But then again, so is life.