Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Serendipity

First of all, I’ve always liked this word. As it rolls off your tongue, it always seems to feel like fun; there’s a neat rhythm to it.

Its meaning also has a great “positiveness” to my mind and indicates that something good is happening by accident. But at the same time, it’s up to you to notice it and grab on. How many serendipitous things have I failed to notice and so lost that chance that the fickle gods had thrown into my path?

This past weekend, I attended Bloody Words here in Toronto, and as always it was a delight, a chance to meet with old friends and colleagues, gather information from experts (those sorts of very valuable sessions are a big part of every Bloody Words), hear the odd thought-provoking comment, and sell the odd book. I hadn't planned on a bit of serendipity biting me in the butt.

It can happen anywhere and all you need to be is open and aware. This time it was while cooling my jets between sessions and wandering around the booksellers’ room. Two people were talking about something that had happened to one of them and I was in earshot. I swear I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop. I just wandered in range and heard a snippet of a phrase. It intrigued me, so I stopped, picked up a book (I don’t even remember what book it was), and hovered close to hear more.

The conversation lasted only for 2 or 3 more exchanges, but the god of luck had maneuvered me to be in the right place at the right time.

What was said? I ain’t telling because I’m going to use it in the novel I’m currently writing. As a matter of fact, it got me around a plot situation the solution of which had stumped me for nearly a week. If I hadn’t been at Bloody Words, I probably would have gone back a chapter, changed the plot, lost that troublesome passage and moved on. Now I have the whole thing in order, and while I’ve only roughed it in, with some polishing, I do believe I'm going to have one of those moments that will make the novel’s eventual readers pause for a moment and think, “Very cool.”

Now, if I’d been polite, I might have moved off because the comment was, well, a bit personal. But I wasn’t and now I’ve got my answer. Normally, I would have moved off, honest!

Sometimes poor manners can pay off. My mother never told me that!

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