Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coincidences you couldn't get away with in fiction

I had an ooh wee ooh moment yesterday. I received an electronic picture frame for Christmas, and after dinner yesterday, the frame was displaying this photo.

It's the log home (more pictures here) I built and lived in for a decade in northern Vermont. The photo was one of the ones on a webpage we'd used to sell the cabin over 7 years ago. We discussed how we loved that picture and wondered how Ted and Beth, our buyers from way back when, liked it there. I recalled how Ted told me that this was the picture that made Beth fall in love with the cabin in the first place.

No more than five minutes later, that cabin picture still displaying on the electronic frame, I got an email from a couple who identified themselves as Ted and Beth's daughter and son-in-law. The hair on the back of neck stood at attention. They were at the cabin, reading an early draft of a novel I'd left for Ted and Beth. They'd googled my name and found an email because they wanted to tell me how happy the cabin has made their entire family over the years AND how much they loved the novel I left behind.

I could never get away with such a coincidence in a novel. Ain't real life fun?

We had a nice exchange and had fun with the coincidence. Turns out, the daughter and son-in-law loved the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont so much, they bought an old house not far from the cabin I built. They're staying at the cabin while converting their house to a Bed & Breakfast, and they assured me I'd always have a place to stay if I come to visit the area.

A further bonus was their enthusiasm over the novel I'd left for their folks. I never let drafts out of my hands, but we'd really hit it off with Ted and Beth, so I'd made an exception. The current version of that novel is so much better and tighter than that draft, I cringed at first when I heard they were reading it. But I quit cringing when they gushed about how much they loved it.

It was a good evening, based on a major coincidence I wouldn't dare write as fiction.


  1. Come build me a cabin. :-D I know what you mean, I'm such a self-abusing (hmm??? best word choice?) writer and perfectionist that I let these manuscripts languish for years. I have on my plate several things I am bound and determined to get out in 2011. I figure enough is enough. Nothing is ever perfect and if people like the drafts well enough, then... I mean, if Stephanie Meyer can get away with those Twilight books then SURELY mine aren't all that bad. :-D

  2. For me it's important to edit until I'm happy with it. I'm sure that attitude feeds the perfectionist in me, but he makes so much internal noise when I try to starve him, I give in.

    Actually, I take much satisfaction from getting a novel as good as I can sending it out into the world. There has to be a stopping point with editing, though, you're right. And I'm sure glad I squelched the perfectionist in me long enough to leave behind that draft. I got a nice boost 7 1/2 years later, and we struggling writers need all the boosts we can get.

  3. Wow, that is freaky. In a good way. Imagine them calling at the exact time. That really is karma, Keith. Means everything fell into place perfectly, and the right couple bought your place. That never happens to me in fiction. At least not yet. I feel good about my WIP, but that's because nobody but me is reading it. LOL. Just goes to prove what I've always said, "Good things happen to good people."

  4. Thanks, Joylene. The whole experience of selling my beloved cabin -- my blood, sweat, and tears locked forever between and in the logs -- was wonderful. It was like they belonged there as much as I did. Well, almost. Ha.

    The timing of hearing from the kids as we thought about the cabin and buyers will probably remain a "great coincidence" in my mind forever. Love that. Ha.

  5. Serendipity, Keith! Like you and me meeting on Novelpro -- wow, a long, long, time ago. Serendipity.

  6. Serendipity is often a good friend to me. And yep, a prime example is having you as my very first novel critiquer ever.

  7. Coincidence is pretty commonplace for me and as a good writer, I ALWAYS write these things down.

    One of the most creepiest was writing a scene between my two characters and while watching an episode of Criminal Minds, two almost identical type of characters were doing almost the same thing.

    Too strange but hella cool!

  8. Ha. Love it when that happens.

  9. Kate Ellis Feuti8/22/2011 6:17 PM

    Mom(Beth) just sent me(Kate) the link to your blog/website. I am thrilled that Above Haldis Notch is being published! I am eagerly awaiting November 25th. Mark and I (the couple from the cabin) will be in NEK on that weekend relaxing(in between kitchen renovations in Irasburg) and enjoying your novel. I can't wait!

  10. Hi Kate! Great to hear from you. Thanks for sharing my excitement over Above Haldis Notch. I'm thrilled it's coming out. And good luck with the Irasburg remodel. I like Irasburg, such a nice feel to the place.