I love serendipity. In fact, I try to live a life guided by serendipity. I have found I'm happier, more fulfilled and enriched. To me serendipity is a happy discovery found while searching for something else. It could be coincidence, but that doesn't quite cut it for me.
Have you had one of those experiences where you're perplexed and stymied? You are in the library helping your daughter and a book falls off the shelf and opens to page 124. Right there is a message for you. Just the insight you needed. "The problem is solved." This happens so often that to me it just can't be a coincidence. I go looking for these experiences. I surely want to recognize them when they are happening. To me it's a form of guidance.
It happened the other night. I love movies. I really don't have a hobby, as making money is my hobby. But when I do need relaxation or diversion I go to the movies. So here I was starting to read a book about movie-making by two filmmakers, Peter Balk and Peter Gruber. The book is called "Shoot Out." At first I thought it was a novel, and was about to put it down when I had just started, but I read the first paragraph, and then awhile later another one. Then on page 31 and 32 I read a few short paragraphs. Their words hit me between the eyes. It was a zap, something I needed right then.
Here is one reason why. I've been teaching a writing class, mostly on marketing, and specifically on writing copy for internet marketing. I've had a devil of a time getting the members to sit down and write. This last week, we had a class discussion and I wanted them to write something, anything. Most of them just sat there. Nothing.
Frustrated, I said, "Okay, what's the problem?" They shuffled around and murmured a few problems they were having. I said, “Good, write that down.” "What?" they asked. Write down the problem you just said. They did. I asked them to leave a few inches between each problem/idea. They did. "Now, write a solution. Write how you're going to solve the problem. Write what results you want to have." The pens were flying. Soon they saw, that in just starting, they were on their way. Maybe their words wouldn't be earth-shattering at first, but they could develop into such. Nothing happens until you start. Nothing turns into great success unless you finish.
It was later that night when I picked up Shoot Out. Here's what I read at first: "The term "vision-keeper" will crop up frequently in these pages. It is intended to describe those filmmakers, writers, musicians and random innovators whose imaginations galvanize those around them. What they see and think rallies others to their side and mobilizes the resources needed to bring that vision to reality.
"At any given time in human history, the vision keepers seemed as rare as an endangered species. Yet through the ages they've reappeared alternatively as visionary or storyteller, driven for whatever reason to plant their mark on the experience of the moment.
"The visionary/storyteller survives today in many different and more sophisticated forms. Cyberspace has supplanted the walls of a cave as a means of conveying his vision, the cosmos becoming the ultimate repository of mankind's errant imaginings."1
THE EMPTY PAGE
My heart almost skipped a beat when I read the following. I'll let the Shoot Out author's words tell the story. See how it affects you. "When interviewing legendary director Billy Wilder, Cameron Crowe couldn't resist the obvious question, "Were you ever nervous the day before starting a new film"? (Cameron Crowe directed Jerry Maguire)
"The venerable Wilder quickly snapped, 'No.' Then he agonized for a beat and added, 'I was only nervous when confronted with an empty page. One with nothing on it.'
"The empty page—everyone's terror. Not only does the writer fear the empty page, but also the director, the producer, the financier---everyone associated with the film. For no matter what dazzling cyber-shots the director may have in his head, no matter what hot financing stratagems the producer may conjure up, absolutely nothing happens until words start filling that empty page. "Yes, words. Old-fashioned verbiage. With all the talk and technology, someone has to sit down and frame an idea. Perhaps even fashion a story. Mold a character. Create dialogue.
"That's how it all begins. The arcane process of shaping that pivotal idea. The basic vision for a motion picture can take many forms. It can start as a play, a novel, a script, an article or even a poem. It can start as an epiphany—a bolt from the blue that overtakes the vision keeper, indeed changes his life. But then that vision must be communicated. It must be set down. Someone has to fill that empty page."