Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Psychic Ability in Life and in Fiction: the Four Clairs

Most of us tend to dismiss our sixth sense. We don’t trust it. We writers don’t even like to give our characters psychic abilities. Maybe we enjoy watching them blindly stumble along in their stories like we stumble along in our daily lives—totally unable to read the thoughts of others, to see beyond the tip of our nose. But is it truly like that?

There are four types of psychic intuition which we often refer to collectively as the sixth sense (in addition to the five physical senses):
  • Clairsentience (clear feeling)
  • Clairvoyance (clear seeing)
  • Clairaudience (clear hearing)
  • Claircognizance (clear knowing)

If you examine your own experiences, you may realize that you employ one or more of these metaphysical senses—perhaps not on a regular basis, but often enough that it should give you pause. Perhaps you and, if you are a writer, then your characters are a lot more complex than you thought.


Yes, that gut feeling that haunts you that is totally disconnected from logic. You pick up a vibe from a person or place, you empathize with others without speaking to them, you feel the presence of spirits or something odd. Perhaps you pick up a feeling from an object associated with a person or you notice a faint scent of tobacco or perfume associated with a person that is not physically in your presence.

Several years ago when I was on vacation I had a sudden premonition that a friend was in physical danger. I was very upset but I had absolutely no basis for my feeling. I just knew something was wrong. Upon returning home I learned that my friend had survived a motorcycle accident. The day of the accident was the same day I felt so overwrought with grief.


Perhaps you experience visions or visual flashes while awake or in dreams that allow you to see things which are hidden. Clairvoyants are often used by police departments to find missing people. They help people find lost objects. Has someone’s face flashed briefly before your eyes and then moments later you find yourself face-to-face with that person? Have you dreamed of a beautiful girl child as I did with my first daughter and then found that child entering your life nine months later?


Clairaudience is like having a mental inner ear or being tuned into a radio. Meditation, automatic writing, and telepathic communication are ways to get in touch with this metaphysical sense. The last time I recall experiencing this “clear hearing” in a big way was almost 20 years ago. We were on a Fourth of July camping trip with family in Minnesota. I was sitting in the entrance of our tent looking up at the bright blue morning sky and a voice said to me: “You will never come here again. It is over. Finished. You will never come here again.” Three months later my mother died unexpectedly from cancer and there was never another family trip to Minnesota. In truth, with my mother’s death, all was finished. The bonds with my stepsisters and stepfather quickly unraveled. I might also add that before my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I dreamed she was going to die. So while everyone was waiting for the diagnosis and treatment options, I already knew clairvoyantly that I had to prepare myself for her death. I could not bring myself to share this bleak news with anyone else. I was lucky to have this early warning because it was to be a very traumatic experience for me.


Sometimes information or sudden insights pop into your head in the form of predictions, dejà vu or premonitions and you feel absolutely certain about the correctness of the information. You just know. Can you immediately know when someone is lying to you even though you have nothing to support your feeling? Can you unexpectedly find an answer to a problem or something you are searching for?

I stare at my TV during election season and listen to all the blah-blah-blah coming out of the mouths of politicians. I know that they are lying and think that everyone else should know this too, but they don’t. I can hear the hollowness of their words. I see where this can go and it’s not good. There is a strange mantra ringing in my ears: May the evil they embrace consume them unto ashes. But most of all, I wonder about those who do not see, who do not know.

And that is where the tension lies—in life and in fiction—between those who have some intuition, but perhaps an unwillingness to trust it, and those who are blind. That is the making of a real story.


  1. Very interesting, I don't think I have heard of the four clairs before, but intuition was what I called that feeling of knowing. I do believe if one is receptive, then you are more likely to recognize one of these premonitions (that was what my mother called them. She had quite a few she told me about).

  2. I used to experience déjà vu fairly often and with such intensity it almost made me ill. It stopped about twenty years ago...I wondered if hormones might have been involved. Interesting way you've laid this out. I get feelings about people but I'm usually wrong ...also most of my premonitions end up being the result of nervous energy. I guess I fall into the blind category.

    1. You'll have to share some of your experiences the next time we see you.

  3. Such an interesting post. I'll have to come back and study it.