It’s About Time

Cynthia Ray

The Persistence of Time by Salvador Dali

Researchers continue to delve into the mysteries of time and space, challenging and expanding our current scientific thinking.  Recently, I’ve read some fascinating theories about time that captured my imagination.  In Einstein’s theory, what we call space also involves time — that’s why it’s called space time, whatever it is you do to space also happens to time. New thinking pushes these boundaries, with some scientists arguing that time does not exist at all, even at the most fundamental level of physical reality. They suggest that it is simply an agreed upon illusion.  Indeed, many mystics and philosophers over the ages have taught that time does not exist.  Rather, they tell us, one may enter a state of consciousness where time disappears.

Recently, a group of scientists advanced the theory that time does exist, but that past, present and future exist simultaneously.   I asked myself If it is true that past, present, and future exist simultaneously, then why can’t we can tap into any of those realities at any time? Once again, mystics teach that everything that has happened, or will happen, exists now, and can be accessed through the “Akashic records”. Perhaps we can access that information, even if we are not a mystics or psychics.

Time travel has always fired the imagination of science fiction writers and perhaps is closer than we think. However, at a more practical level, with the use of our own mind, I believe we can expand our experience of the past and future.  Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol is a perfect example of time travel to the past that changes the future.  There is no reason we can’t do that, too, even without the ghosts.

First, I  experimented with altering my emotional memory of a past event, one in which I wish I had done something different.  One could argue that experiencing an imagined event, or an actual event are both equally as “real”.  Is one really less true that the other in terms of experience?    I imagined the event in clear detail, with sounds, colors, and smells, and  added a different outcome. Some part of my brain, at least, does not know the difference between an imagined event and an actual event, and it effectively changed my emotional response to the so-called past.

The idea of time being fluid is not new.  Most of us have practiced  visualization of something we want to happen in the future, creating a picture of what we desire (for ourselves and others).  This practice seems to work many times to help create those desired events, especially if accompanied by strong feeling and will. 

A small example of when this worked for me happened when I worked with a person that I considered difficult.  We continually clashed on how work should be done, who should do it, etc.  I started imagining seeing him break into a big smile when I walked into the office.  I imagined us working together on a project, laughing, and even shaking hands.  I did this for a couple of weeks, and one day I walked into the office and he broke into a big smile. THe efforts paid off and it did change our relationship.  Is that a function of time?  Making different choices in the present that change the potential future?  I think so. 

Carlos Castaneda said that if we have a problem, we should look over our left shoulder and ask our death.  That is saying the future is always with us and knows the answers. Death adds a soupcon of urgency to the present as well.  A different kind of muse.  Assuming that all of time exists simultaneously means we should be able to access all of it in the here and now.

I decided to apply the idea of a co-existing future to my writing project. Why couldn’t I connect with my future self to help with my present situation, since they are already holding that finished book in their hands?  I imagined my future self standing behind me, watching me write, nudging me forward, even suggesting ways to change the potential outcome.

The blog you are reading in the present, was written by my future self in the past. It does amaze me how stories written hundreds of years ago continue to influence and change the future. Since the story, blog or novel Is already written, existing in the future, then my future self can help me past the wobbly bits.  It is a different way of thinking, and has the potential to get me past all kinds of troubles. 

Calling on the future is a different way of being “present”.  We can claim more freedom of expression, of thinking, and of choosing, since we are in a state of being where everything is fluid and flexible, rather than a pile of concrete things that did or did not happen.  Stepping out of the perceived flow of time this way interrupts our automated thinking patterns, and knee jerk responses to events, past, present or future.  I like how my friend Mark Earlix puts it:

“You have choice in every moment.

If you don’t like the way things are, choose again, and again…

To choose differently each time until we see it correctly.

The choice is in the twinkling of an eye.”

Mark Earlix

Have fun!

Plan B

Cynthia Ray

Sometimes things do not go according to plan, and that is precisely what happened to my blog today.  I’d spent a few hours working, and written a most of a nice little piece, but when I opened my computer this morning to post it, my computer crashed and burned. It was an event in which there were no survivors and from which there would be no document return.

Rest in Peace

After much gnashing of teeth and wailing, I smuggled my husband’s computer to my desk and started Plan B. I could have recreated the original piece, but it seemed better to leave it in the ashes with the rest of my documents and start over.  While turning over ideas in my head, I realized that I’d been contributing to Shadow Spinners for over nine years, and written over fifty blogs!   

It made me wonder if anyone is listening.  Do these posts go into the void?  Do they matter?  Have they touched anyone’s heart or mind?  Like any writing, once it is released into the world, it follows its own path, and finds a place.  I believe this writing is meaningful, if even one idea from one post influenced, challenged someone’s thinking or made someone smile.  I know that many of the posts of fellow bloggers have made me laugh, made me cry, and stretched my mind.

Looking back over the last few years of content on the Shadow Spinners site, I am moved.  There are many excellent posts from the Shadow Spinners gang, and from various guest writers as well.  I’m humbled to witness the outpouring of wisdom, insight, humor and angst from these special humans. If you haven’t gone back and read or re-read some of the posts over the last few years, it is well worth your time.  These authors are the real deal.

Writers have a calling to write, and anyplace that shares the struggles of the craft with brave transparency, bares the loneliness and doubts, the break throughs and joys, and the technical finesse of bringing a story into the world, is a good place to be. 


Interview with Author Sarah Sokol

By Cynthia Ray

Today I’m interviewing up and coming author Sarah Sokol on her latest book, The Perils of Presumption.

Sarah,I enjoyed this book. It incorporates fantasy, mystery and romance in a lovely way, with a feeling of intrigue, adventure, and excitement.   The ending is a surprise, happy, but perhaps not.

Thank you. Those are always the words I’m hoping will be associated with my writing. Mystery is a new genre for me, and it was definitely tricky, but the research involved was fun. I like stories and characters that feel complex, and draw you to the end with a niggling sensation that not all is what you may have thought, or that perhaps the ending won’t be so happy for everyone after all. I also love building up worlds that feel real and complex, full of all sorts of rules and details that may never come into play in the story I am telling, but create a sense of realism even when I’m trying to bake up a totally new world from scratch. That being said, it really is the characters and their relationships that are most important in my books. 

You have written in other genres as well.  Perhaps this is why it works so well in this novel.

Many of the authors I admire have published books in various genres, or a combination of genres in each book. My appreciation of that influences my writing, but I admit, often I mix genres as an excuse to add a romance subplot to my fantasy, urban fantasy, scifi, or alternate historical fiction. I tend to focus my greatest efforts upon fantasy, as magic has that special draw for me,and makes anything seem possible. Deep and abiding friendships are a recurring theme in my books as well, with romance that feels realistic, built on trust and affection. 

I was sorry to come to the end of the book.  Are there more in the works?

Yes. Perils is the first book in The Conclave Trilogy, with the second and third books already written and just awaiting another round of edits. The second book is called The Dangers of Denial and centers around two brand new characters in the same universe, while the third book, The Hazards of Hope, brings the story to a climactic conclusion centering around a growing villainous threat foreshadowed in The Perils of Presumption! It was a brand-new experience for me to write three books surrounding the same set of characters, world and story, and I fell in love with the Conclave universe during the process. The sequels allowed me to explore more unconventional characters within the conventional setting, and strong female characters completely unlike Charlotte from book one. Finishing the trilogy helped me to quicken the pace on the sequel to my first published book, Death Tally.  This is the favorite book I’ve written so far, because of the research required.

As you write, what motivates you to keep going, when things get tough?

Sometimes, there is nothing that will force it to happen and I just need to give it time. Sleep a lot, or travel if I can, observe people, taste new foods, see new things and get new perspectives, then come back, start typing and try again. However, on a day-to-day basis, when the story ideas are there but the motivation to get them on paper is missing, setting time goals is really helpful, and I will write a little each day, even if it’s only a paragraph. Often if I start with only a paragraph as my goal, I’ll end up wanting to keep going anyway! 

As a young author, how have you gone about building a platform to make your fiction available to a wider audience? 

There are a lot of websites that allow you to publish fiction, interact with other authors, post your new story ideas for edits, read other fiction, make friends and build an audience of people who love free fiction online. One website I’ve used for years now is Wattpad, which provides a lot of opportunities for writing competitions of all kinds, joining their Wattpad Stars program, and other opportunities depending on your level of participation. I’ve built a moderate audience through these means. Of course, being active on social media, having a website, and being consistent helps! There are little tricks and promotional tools that Amazon provides when you publish through them as well, that allow you to get a new wave of readers now and then. I always recommend joining a local writing group if you can manage to find one! It’s vastly helpful even if you’re just getting together to write and talk about writing. 

What authors or books inspired you? 

Growing up, my house was filled to the brim with classics. Whenever the difficult question of my favorite book pops up, I tend to answer Jane Eyre. I love how Charlotte Bronte was able to delve into a single character and her life, making me able to feel the things she felt and see the world through her eyes, taking me through the ups and downs of her whole existence. I aspire to create someone so real that they could become a friend to the reader in the same way I felt like a friend to Jane Eyre.

I also adore romance, not the typical bosoms-heaving alpha male toxicity, but genuine love, like that portrayed in The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. Fantasy novels have always sparked my imagination as well, from the very first time I listened to the Chronicles of Narnia on audio book. Growing up in an extremely religious household, other types of fantasy novels such as Harry Potter were discouraged, but I always managed to find young adult books revolving around magic, mystery and romance that my parents could accept. Although Tamora Pierce is one of my biggest inspirations, and she was banned in our house, possibly due to some content dealing with young women exploring their sexuality. Tamora Pierce found her way into my heart, and I snuck her books into my room at night to experience the beautiful, effortless worlds she created. 

Thanks for sharing your work with us, and I look forward to reading your next book!

Thank you for this opportunity!

You can find more about Sarah here