But then I wondered what else do these favorite activities have in common? And it occurred to me it’s the moments where an insight flashes, as though someone suddenly turned on a light bulb.
When these moments occur, maybe I’ve have been puzzling over why a character in my current novel travels to a certain location. Or I might be intrigued by someone’s unexpected reaction to something I’ve written. Perhaps I’m rethinking something from my own past, or trying to find the best way to help a friend with a problem, or a colleague with a project.
The process of arriving at the Aha might vary. Sometimes it just needs a space so it can appear—a mental space, provided by a walk through nature, or just time spent in a favorite chair, quietly listening.
Sometimes it arrives as a result of asking myself a series of questions. My favorites were part of my training as a journalist: Who, What, When, Where, Why? That’s why all the titles of the Milford-Haven Novels begin with these questions.
However the moment arrives, it brings with it a telltale thrill. For me, there’s an involuntary inhalation (which might develop into an actual jaw drop), followed by an inevitable smile. (After that, there might even be a little dance.) These moments can’t be faked. They can be sought out, and they can be cherished. But there’s no substitute for the real thing. This must be where we get the expression, “It came to me.” Because it’s like that—a visitation that it touches, if not our physical senses, then our spiritual ones. We might feel it as a tap on the shoulder, a flash of distant lightning, the ringing of a bell, the taste of truth, the aroma of rightness.
It’s not exactly like the intellectual process of “understanding.” It’s more like being utterly gripped by a sense of “got it!” Like the day I realized I’m not writing my books for myself. I’m writing them for you, my readers. Aha!
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