At last, I found a reprieve from the tyranny of Facebook and the daily horror show of the Trump administration. In mid-October I enrolled with an online writing program, “The Write Practice”, to take their “100 Day Book Challenge” with the goal of finishing the entire draft of a book between October 15, 2017 and January 23, 2018. I chose to re-work my long-neglected manuscript of “A Roaring Deep Within” and I succeeded in bringing it to a satisfactory conclusion with 92,465 words… and right on schedule! I have to say, with no apologies, that I am proud of this successful effort!
The challenge to post at least 3500 words every Friday kept me focused, and my story soon took flight as my characters made surprising choices and performed unanticipated actions. Events turned in new directions without my being aware of planning them. It became a delightful magical ride that I eagerly embarked upon each Monday and Tuesday… my regular days off work. I learned new tricks to just write without stopping to edit or even to think very much about what I would write next. I just sat down at my keyboard and let the story write itself.
Now, with this draft finished, I will begin the process of editing and re-working the story for publication. This, too, I will do with the support of an on-going writing forum at the same online venue. New material is to be submitted every Friday. We give feedback to other writers and get some from them.
The story I have written is a fantastical tale based on legends of the Amazons of ancient Anatolia__ women of power who fought to protect their land from encroaching patriarchal takeover around the third millennium BC. It is something of a “Wonder-Woman” saga and a “coming of age” tale of one young woman’s struggles as she grows into her destiny to become the High Priestess of her tribe.
It is difficult for me to talk about the fiction I write. A story has so many nuances and implications, impossible to explain without reading it. Plot points and thematic turns in a tale cannot easily be described out of context. It becomes futile to attempt an explanation in a few brief sentences. At the least, it is awkward to explain dramatic themes with the words of common discourse. Help! I need a publicist!
But I celebrate that I am again riding the merry-go-round of an author of fantasy fiction! I feel liberated from the shackles of a daily news cycle that is running off its rails. I still check the news, but I try not to get caught up in these bizarre world events over which I have no control and about which I cannot fathom meaning nor perceive solutions. In my stories things can get crazy, but it is always possible for me to steer them to a satisfactory resolution in the end.
I have retreated into my fantasy world once again, and I am happy about that! I come alive in story.
Here is a passage from a book by my favorite author, Terry Pratchett: In “Lords and Ladies” the wicked fairies’ breakthrough the barrier between worlds and infest the lives of folks in Discworld. The good witches come to the rescue, led by Granny Weatherwax. At the final climax of the story, Granny, (who is a confirmed virginal spinster), is standing alone to face the wildly enraged Unicorn:
“She couldn’t hear the ghostly thoughts of all the other Esme Weatherwaxes anymore. Perhaps some lived in a world ruled by elves. Or had died long ago. Or were living what they thought were happy lives… she felt a tiny regret that she’d never be able to meet them… Everything you did meant that a million copies of you did something else… on a million hillsides the girl ran, on a million bridges the girl chose, on a million paths the woman stood… all different, all one. All she could do for all of them was be herself, here and now, as hard as she could. She stuck out a hand… “
The Unicorn hits an invisible wall… Granny pulls a long gray hair from her bun and makes a loop that she throws over the wild creature’s neck… she leads the Unicorn to the blacksmith to be shod with silver shoes and nails (for the creatures of faery are tortured by the touch of iron.) Then she leads it out and sets it free. It cannot be ensorcelled by the Wicked Fairy Queen again.
This is the power of story.
I have been re-reading my published novel, “The Raven Watched”, in preparation to begin writing the sequel. At last I begin to see where that story will go next, and I am excited to start working on it. Even more exhilarating, is finding that my writing in that book is profound! The story sings! I can feel the words deep in my soul and I can claim it as coming from within me. It seems purely magical that, four years after its publication, I can pick up my own writing and not feel apologetic or critical of it at all. I can dare say, “This is really a delightful book!”, and not flinch with embarrassed modesty.
So, in connection to Granny Weatherwax’s musings, I can wonder: How is it that, in my imagination, I find such quiet ecstasy… far from the world in which I actually live. Where, in what past incarnation have I experienced such leisure, for it feels as if I were native to such a contemplative, peaceful, magical world… or is there another “me” somewhere so blessed… and I, here, able to tap into her energy when the stars are aligned for such a connection? I long to afford such leisure daily, for I feel I will never be able to learn and think and write all that is in me! So, I daydream… and write the pictures in my mind…
… and my cat, Obie, sprawls in just such luxurious leisure across my desk as I type. What stories occupy his dreams, I wonder?