Thanks, Chris, for the opportunity to monkey around on your famous blog! I’ve seen your invites for several months and have said to myself “someday.” It appears someday has arrived.
I’m one of those writers who rarely struggles with writer’s block. I can write 16 hours a day and never run dry of words …until someone asks me to write about myself. My mind goes blank, every articulate thought sucked through a black hole into another dimension. The urge to regurgitate my 3rd grade demographics starts sounding like a decent backup plan. What does a fantasy writer who lives entirely in her head have to say about her “real” life?
I didn’t start writing until I turned fifty… ancient compared to most writers I know. Am I envious of those enjoying an early start, regretful that it took me so long to find my calling? You betcha. If I could roll back time, would I? Probably not. I like where I am in my life, and I wouldn’t be here unless I’d been there, if you know what I mean. I’ve chalked up some experience that feeds my imagination.
Stories explode in my head during dreams or random conversations. They appear as complete entities that I hurry to capture before they flee into the day’s commotion. It’s the only time I handwrite. I like the fluidity of pen on paper, being able to scrawl between the lines and scribble up the margins. I make arrows, stars, and circles. For me, there’s an unruly freedom in the inability to edit, when my stiff inner critic takes a necessary and welcome break. The result is a mess, yet it feels inspired.
Then I go to the opposite extreme and outline in MS Excel. The old project manager in me kicks into gear. The story is a giant jigsaw puzzle that I can manipulate until the pieces merge into a comprehensive vision. I suppose post-it’s would work as well, but Pinky the Cat would sprawl all over that in a second. As it is, my laptop is smothered in cat hair.
In contemplating what to write about today, I’ve decided to go a little off the deep end for the bewilderment of your readers. We writers can be a touch eccentric, and in order to perpetuate the characterization, I thought I’d chat about stuff I don’t know. That’s the fun of fantasy after all.
Those who’ve browsed my website know I love the idea of myths. To me, they’re the stories that define who we are and form the narratives of our lives. In my experience, perceptions alter our reality. We use perceptual narratives to filter our experiences, to guide our decisions, and create meaning in our lives. In essence, who we are, beyond our physical presence, is created based on our values and choices, how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. In a way, we are the embodiment of stories; our lifetimes expressed in epic myths.
So, where am I going with this? Hang on, I’m getting there. One more piece of information and you’ll see.
While studying for a degree to be a pastoral counselor, I took this great class called “The Spirituality of Relationship.” In essence, it described a relationship as a new entity, a created presence with a life of its own that requires nurturing and an investment of time to thrive. The discussion provided a new way of looking at loss posed by divorce. For, although children may retain healthy connections with both parents individually, they grieve the loss of this third presence, the un-tangible creation, the relationship.
Now my point comes together…
I believe, on an energetic level, that books are more than paper and ink, or digital symbols. On some level, our creations are new entities with the ability to enter into relationship with others on a personal and emotional level, just as we do. Books and the people who inhabit them can open eyes, stir the heart, elicit a deep sense of longing or grief, outrage or fear. I’ve fallen madly in love with protagonists, profoundly altered the path of my life, made new choices, expanded my understanding of the world, all through my relationships with books. Some have stayed with me since the day I read them, hovering like spirits over my head.
What if, when we create worlds and characters, we create something that exists? How do we know that the myths we fashion in our heads don’t coalesce into something real and measurable? Simply because we lack the brain capacity and technology to perceive and quantify, doesn’t mean something can’t be. History chuckles at the folly of those shortsighted assumptions.
I’m intrigued by paradigms, the perceptual boundaries we cobble together to rationalize our experience. I love the idea of not knowing. I bask in the notion that we scarcely use a fraction of our brains and possess only the tiniest inkling of how the universe works. Our perceptions are so small, so limited, that to me anything is possible.
Other than a photo and a bio (based entirely on my perception/myth of myself) you have no idea whether I’m a real person, right? In a way, I’m a manifestation of our combined imaginations. It’s possible that my characters are just as present in the fiber of creation as I am. I think so. I know them better than I know most people; I’ve interacted with them, lived with them, learned from them, laughed and wept with them. They will likely outlive me too. Cool, huh?
Well, I’m a fantasy writer after all. I can imagine you nodding your head sagely at this bit of information, or muttering under your breath, “This woman is three tines short of a fork.”
All I can say is, “Welcome to my world.”
Where I hang out: