Cal was very emphatic about how his writing, and the idea for his first book, came to him.
“Like a thunderbolt,” he said. “It all came to me at once. The idea, the story, almost the whole book flashed into my mind at once.”
I found this very spiritual, and understood that it happens often to great artists who create works that, for the rest of time, earn them the genius moniker. Handel, the composer, wroteMessiah in twenty-four days.
Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect, shook the plans for Fallingwater, that many consider to be the most famous house in America, out of his sleeve in two-and-a-half hours, while his clients were in route to see them.
I wasn’t counting on that happening to me; or that Cal or I would ever become literary geniuses. After that first meeting with Cal, there was a ferocious thunderstorm that night. One bolt went from my eye to my ear in a split second. Close, I thought, but not close enough to give me my “novel” idea. I’m going to have to give birth to the book. Slow growing. Expanding. Lots of kicking and screaming. In labor for a long time, but in the end, I was able to announce:
“It’s a book!” Just like a proud parent.
The idea wasn’t a thunderbolt, but a lens coming into focus. After that chance meeting with Cal, the words began flowing towards me. They kept rolling like the surf, until the last page was finished.
Hearing that word in the conversation reminded me brainstorms really happen, as one did for my friend. That brief talk convinced me to become a novelist. The close call that night got me going. Almost five novels and drafts later I’ve convinced myself it was no flash in the pan.