Every author has a unique and personal process of bringing new characters and a new story to the blank page. As I now immerse myself in the created world of my current book project, I find a familiar phenomenon manifesting.
When I was writing ‘rhythm,’ I got so deeply under the skin of the two main characters that my life began to reflect theirs — specifically, I worked my way through every crisis of confidence that Robin and Angela struggled with (especially Angela). Sometimes I wonder if I’m still recovering. Angela’s fear of being noticed, despite her longing for recognition and validation, really sent me for a loop.
A writer “writes what s/he knows”; however, I would have expected it to be the other way around: that I would draw from my personal experience to inject into my story, rather than having my characters’ learning curves impact my daily life. It’s all one and the same, though, eh? Because in the end, it’s all about me! Perhaps all writers are nothing more than egomaniacs.
Maybe I should practice that, being egomaniacal. This is, after all, my blog. You don’t have to read it. But you do have to eat your broccoli. Or I’m telling Mom.
But I digress.
Now, one of my main characters is a witch. An honest-to-goodness Wiccan, a practitioner of The Craft. Not at all the kind of witch that Hollywood is so keen on promoting, of course, but an earnest, earthy gal living in time with the changing of the seasons and the phases of the moon, and trying to get her uptight cousin to relax a bit and enjoy herself for once.
Since I am an interfaith minister — yes, there really is such a thing; I went to seminary and everything — my book collection on world faiths is already impressive, but in recent weeks, I’ve noticed that my “earth-based religions and related” section has grown considerably, threatening to take over an entire bookcase. Well, not quite, but it sometimes feels that way. Sure, I’ve had Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” on the bookshelf since I was in college (I majored in religious studies), but I need to dig deeper now. I am, after all, writing someone for whom this is a way of life, not just a minor hobby.
If the Bush administration is tracking what citizens check out from their local libraries (as I suspect they are), they’ll notice that I’ve borrowed just about every book on witchcraft from the Washington County Cooperative Library System.
Have you browsed the “New Age” (or whatever they call it) section at Barnes & Noble recently? It’s huge! Just try perusing the books on witchcraft, magick, and Wicca on Amazon.com, and you’ll easily spend an entire weekend sitting at the computer. It seems to be quite trendy to be pagan these days; even NPR has reported that pagan religions are the fastest growing spiritual traditions in the United States.
With so many books hitting the market right and left, and with so many of these targeting young people (especially teens), it’s difficult to know where to begin. Plus, there are “paths” — similar to denominations — within Wicca, and a wide range of authors with varying viewpoints and codes of ethics. Luckily, when at Powells Books a few days ago, I found myself browsing alongside a well-practiced Wiccan with decades of experience, and she was able to point me toward a few sources I easily would have missed in the great wealth of material.
But back to parallels…. So if my life tends to mirror those of my characters, does this mean Anne Rice is really a vampire? Certainly John Grisham is a lawyer. 😉 Am I becoming a witch, like my character? Maybe, at least for the duration of the writing. If it lasts beyond that…. What would it feel like to come out of the broom closet? I don’t know that it would really change anything, and at least I would be in good company. Perhaps I’ll find that the project was merely an excuse to do some exploring…. or maybe I just feel another book coming on.