Writing a novel is a big undertaking. I was not prepared when I started over thirty years ago, and was not as patient as I am now. After a writing class or two, I dashed off a 1200 page draft, full of digressions and bad writing. Yet I pinned my hopes on that version and began going to writers’ conferences, pitching to literary agents and editors. At one such conference, I met a “psychic” agent who touched her third eye and told me to cut the book in half. I’d already understood that the book was too long, and had been editing it down, so I accepted her advice without much resistance or deep understanding. It wasn’t until a few months later that her words hit their mark.
Fish Out of Water, as it was then called, featured interwoven stories, two narrators, two protagonists, two worlds. Kelsey, my modern scientist, dreamed of Iriel, a young savior living in antediluvian Atlantis. Much of the length of the book came from Iriel’s passage from her teenage days on her outlying Atlantian island to her journey to the mainland to the destruction of her world to her escape across the sea. My epiphany was that I could make Fish into multiple books. And so I am doing that, with Chosen, the first of the series just about ready to go. Meanwhile, Incarnation became Kelsey’s story and her past life as Iriel informed her spiritual growth, as she informed Iriel’s spirit.
Life after death holds a fascination for me, but not to the point that I want to hurry it. I like being alive and like to consider the possibilities of the other world. Incarnation is the story of one possibility: that we have lived before, and we might live again depending upon where we are on the ladder of enlightenment, and that our souls inhabit a heavenly realm for a time before returning to our earth classroom, and that there can be communication across the realms. Behind the veil a kind of magic exists. Time collapses, bargains are made, angelic beings watch and protect, and a most magnificent God embraces all of it.
Particularly, I have looked for my father on the other side of the veil, listened for his voice, sought his advice, and at times, like a punch in the chest, have received his answer. YES, DO IT! Now more beloveds, friends, my mother, have gone to the seat of our ancestors. I have vowed to write about those ancestors and those realms in all the days left to me.
I will write, because writing is my calling, my pleasure, my way into myself, my way to understand the world, and perhaps I have a little imagination and talent. I will invent, I will channel, I will craft. That is the true gift of Incarnation. I have become a writer, a real writer.
A year ago, I took a workshop led by the charismatic Tom Bird, called Write Your Bestseller in a Weekend. And I did. Rain, like the early Fish Out of Water, is a mess. Thankfully, it is much shorter! The magic that happened in those forced march writing sessions was akin to channeling. Many have spoken of waiting for an elusive muse, or wading through writer’s block. I don’t choose to go there. Sometimes a piece needs time to settle into a final form, and I honor that. Sometimes I need to muse upon the change I might make, whether big or small. There’s a little niggling voice that says, that part is not quite right. Take it out, expand it, tidy it up, make this change or go in like a blind surgeon, and see what happens. Then once I make the change, it’s done and the work is improved. I believe that I am led in the right direction, in this and everything else I undertake.
How do I feel, now that Incarnation is finished, published, out in the world after thirty years? It couldn’t be done until I stopped knowing how to make it better. That went on for a very long time. Then suddenly, I had a publisher and we were working on the finishing touches. I did put in a little scene or two near the end, couldn’t help it. Atlantis keeps giving me those stories, those pictures.
What I feel now is the thrill of not knowing what stranger or friend is going to read my book and judge it, or love it, or want to talk to me. I’m still shy about that. Like wanting to jump off the stage and hide after an ovation, I’m not quite comfortable taking the praise or promoting my work. But I do want to keep performing and expanding my circle of readers. I do want to get into a dialogue with my readers, have my audience help me grow and move in some undiscovered direction. I want that thrill of performance whether it’s a reading, giving a speech that I’ve crafted, a radio interview, or publishing something I’ve written.
You’re such a lovely audience, such gentle readers. This much I know.
My sincerest thanks and my love to all.