The author’s journey is a difficult one: often surprising, mostly frustrating, deeply satisfying.
I have been saying for years that “I’m not an author; I’m not a poet,” and yet here I am, having published two poetry cycles, a handful of short stories, and now working on a full length novel. The universe responds with whatever we invoke, whether we are positive or negative about it.
The path to get here has been convoluted, covered with brambles, obscured in shadow, mostly uphill, with flashes of heartrending beauty and heartbreaking torment. I have learned much, forgotten more than I remember, and have been written by my own works. I am lucky, even in the many misfortunes that have caused the words to flow — for I, it turns out, am merely a vessel. The first poetry cycle, Rachel Rising, wrote most of itself in one long night after a dream that to this day feels more like a vision, a prophecy, than any mere dream; the second, Love the Haven of Peace, came in bursts of torment as my achingly lonely heart broke itself seeking love; the short stories and the novel now underway came in flashes of ideas, with only the barest notion at the beginnings of them how they would turn out.
You see, even when I was a singer, I found that when I let go of the craft, let it be larger than myself, only then was my audience truly moved. When it was no longer about me, but about the story — and the stories of the audience watching — it transcended and became part of the people listening. I was merely a vessel.
Writing, it turns out, is the same — the stories we tell as authors are our own stories, it’s true, AND if we do it right they also become the stories of their readers. We tap into collective experiences, deeply connect with each other along filaments we can’t yet see or identify but know are there.
Those filaments are our vast and infinite connections to each other and our world, our fellow beings, and the entire universe, known and unknown. Those filaments light paths we thought completely shadowed, and light the hidden recesses of our mind, those dusty corners of which we’re not even aware until something larger than ourselves throws light into them.
The novel I’m working on, A Royal Courtesan, is one of those surprises. It began life in my mind as something like a fluffy historical romance, but has taken on a life entirely its own–requiring me in turn to research times, places, periods, politics, and cultures that would never have otherwise occurred to me. It is no longer a romance. Although there are romantic elements, there is also political and cultural commentary, exploring gender politics, religion, economy, and other important factors. It is becoming an attempt to add something different to current conversations about these topics, and move us beyond our fear-based, dominator culture, and bring us back to something like a nurturing collective — the characteristics of which are needed to save us from destruction. That path on which we’ve found ourselves, the one that leads to destruction, is all too clear.
Let’s walk the hidden path together instead, the one that leads to mutual uplift and compassion.