This time last year I had a new release in the Contemporary Romance / New Adult book category. It was titled Bird After Bird, and it’s the story of a couple of lonely hearts with broken wings. Honestly, it’s probably bit too grown up to fit well in the New Adult genre, but live and learn. Regardless, I’m proud of the work and look forward to finding the time to pen Book After Book, the librarian sister’s literary love story. But I digress. This post isn’t really about that.
The thing I came here to blog about today is synchronicity. Not from the perspective of the fictional characters in Bird After Bird–although they definitely had it–but in real life. Sometimes things happen in my everyday routine that stop me in my tracks. Something happened like that just now.
As listeners know, we have a young daughter. Far too young to read Mommy’s books. Truly too busy this time last year being three years old to have listened in at all during the editing phase of Bird After Bird, when I would often read the plot aloud to Tim.
Just a few moments ago, my daughter brought me one of her babydolls. For the past couple of days, she’s been calling her doll, “Birdy.” Cute, I had thought, but little more crossed my mind. Today, however, she informed me, “Birdy has a friend.”
“What’s Birdy’s friend’s name?” I was busy at the time–in the shower, actually–and not really able to see her face as she spoke.
“Bodie,” she replied.
I wasn’t sure if I heard her correctly. “Birdie has a friend named Bodie?” Vaguely, I had the idea that there was a Bodie in some movie about demonic possession. Amityville Horror? Paranormal Activity? I don’t know. I decided to skip over that.
“NO, Birdy has a friend named BIRDY.”
That’s when the coincidence struck me. In Bird After Bird, I gave both the main characters (Wren Riley and Laurence Byrd) the nickname “Birdy.” I might have switched back and forth between Birdie and Birdy for the spellings, too, because, really…nicknames? Private, intimate ones from a best friend or a parent? You don’t engrave a spelling like that in stone. And most people aren’t terrific spellers. (Take it from a girl named Leslea. Even siblings and best friends aren’t reliable spellers.)
“How come Birdy’s friends’ name is Birdie?” I asked her. “Why not another name?”
“Because!” she said. “It is!” She pointed to the shirt of the doll she held–the original Birdy, if you will. I hadn’t noticed it before, but there was, indeed, a calico bird printed there.
“Very nice,” I said. “Birdy has a bird on her shirt. But what about the other Birdie? Why is that her name?”
GiGi shrugged and left me alone in the bathroom. Joining her in the next room, I spotted the other doll–her bright pink hair and Rainbow Briteesque clothing could easily have garnered her any other name. Rainbow Dash, Strawberry Shortcake, you name it. But that wasn’t her choice.
No, my daughter had chosen to name two fictional playthings by the same name. The very same name I gave two characters when writing a book.
Mind you, it wasn’t my first book. I’ve written eight novels and innumerable short stories. There are certain names I have hit on more than once, but never “Birdy,” and never for two characters in the same book. Just that once.
I had my reasons…synchronicity, coincidence, a sense of implied intimacy and familiarity chief among them. My four year daughter can’t possibly have the same reasons, can she? She is only four. I don’t kid myself that there is a greater construct she’s piecing together. The kid is all heart, as she should be at this age.
Still, there is a part of me that rejects the idea that she was just feeling lazy about the name she chose. Otherwise, why would she have brought it to my attention at all? I was busy, remember? And so was she, until she started creating this story about two friends named Birdy that she wanted to share with Mommy.
There is no moral to this story. Only a deeply held hunch by this writer that creativity isn’t so much a unique architecture of the human mind, but a deep spring running free, pooling, eddying, filling wells everywhere it is invited in.
Invite it in. My daughter has. Look at her splash in it, a tiny winged creature in a splendid birdbath.