Stairways to Somewhere Else

Something disturbs me about an extra long flight of stairs, especially going down. Why would that be? Maybe because I’m a klutz and fear falling. Certainly the former is true! On a recent trip to New York, I snapped a couple of extra-creepy flights.

Manhattan subway escalator.

Looking down a Manhattan subway escalator.

Perhaps long staircases disturb me because I fear my subconscious. The mystical psychologist Carl Jung talked about stairs that descend to the subconscious, as I was fascinated to recently learn. Well, okay, re-learn, because I was surprised to read it in (my own damn) novel, Was It A Rat I Sawwhich I wrote a couple decades ago. But I digress. Anyway, I don’t fear my subconscious, I’m fascinated by all the things it seems to know that I don’t – and there’s no question that I get my best ideas from it!

Entrance to Le Poisson Rouge, a club in Greenwich Village.

Entrance to Le Poisson Rouge, a club in Greenwich Village.

I’m joking around. I know why some staircases bother me. It’s the sense that their steps are capable of taking me somewhere else, an unintended journey to an unexpected destination. Some building entrances feel that way to me, too. I’m finally exposing their truth in my fantasy series, FRAMES, where nothing in the universe is as it seems. The red staircase above will be a location – or maybe a character – in the second book in the FRAMES series, which I have just started writing.

New York doesn’t have a lock on eerie stairs. Here’s one that hails from Echo Park in Los Angeles:


P.S. I’ve finally finished the first FRAMES novel, Nica of Los Angeles. Watch for posts about that soon.

(This post responds to the WP Weekly Photo Challenge, Extra Extra.)


And Then The Doorbell Rang…

doorbell-button-replacement-136 I have spent my adult life deeply agnostic and religion-avoidant, with two exceptions.

My first summer in college, I went through dark times, and at some point decided it would help if I had faith. I would intermittently pray, along the lines of God if you’re there I know I’m supposed to take you on faith but I can’t so if you could please just give me a sign, I will take it from there.  One day, a few minutes after I finished such a prayer, the doorbell rang.

Writer’s Block: The Freedom of Chains

I’ve been reading what a great variety of writers have said about how they approach writer’s block, everyone from Norman Mailer to Maya Angelou. The sentiment seems pretty evenly divided between chain your butt to the chair and get the damn job done and when I can’t write it is my subconscious sending me a message.

Many writers have a hybrid perspective and that is the one that resonates with me. I need discipline to get beyond rote results: chain your butt to the chair so that your subconscious can soar free.

The Subconscious as a Collaborator

How do you come up with your book titles?  Asked this recently, my answer came quickly: At some point I just know what the title is. Which means I’ve been working on it subconsciously. Which makes me realize how essential my subconscious is to the writing process:

  • Stuck? Set it aside and come back to it tomorrow. Usually when I wake up I know what to do — my subconscious figured it out.
  • Sudden discovery, typically while brushing teeth or gardening, of a plot twist that ramps up the tension and surprise? Thank you subconscious, you are always on the job.
  • Realization, as the book nears completion, that details have coalesced into a united theme? My subconscious knew from the beginning what this book was about; the conscious mind is always the last to know.

My principle motivation to write is a desire to connect with other people, but a secondary motivation is to connect with myself and see what will next emerge.

As I write this I find it difficult to say “I figured it out subconsciously” rather than “my subconscious figured it out”.  It doesn’t disturb me to feel that I contain these separate entities.  Should it?