Out of the Woods: One Novelist's Mysterious Journey to Being Found
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
No. 1 : January 20, 2019 ~
I'm going to break a cardinal rule of storytelling and begin in the middle. That's where I am on my journey, after all. As a writer, I'm no beginner -- I've been writing pretty much all my life. Nor am I closing in on the end of my career. Several future novels are already incubating, and unlimited possibilities are floating around in the cosmos, waiting for me to snatch them out of oblivion.
I'm in the middle of my life too, although that assertion might provoke some eye-rolling. I don't care. I've decided to embrace the possibility that I have just as much time ahead of me as behind. It's no use throwing a bunch of statistics at me or chiding me to be realistic. I'm a teller of fantastic tales. I believe in magic. And I know that science sometimes seems like magic.
So I am in the middle, with plenty of time ahead -- I've decided that's a given. I do not intend to write fast and desperately just to get as much as possible out there before the coffin lid falls down. I want to enjoy writing my stories as much as I want others to enjoy reading them.
I am in the middle. I'm in the flow -- I'm not preparing, planning or wishing. I'm not tying up loose ends. I'm doing.
It strikes me that this is a great place to be in my life. I used to be forward-thinking, but I've shifted to present-thinking. I'm not dwelling on past pleasures or pain -- I'm carpe diem-ing.
There are two things I need to do while I'm here in the middle (which, in case you haven't caught my drift yet, is where I intend to stay).
The first is to blast The Darkest Eyes to the world. I haven't quite figured out how to do that, but I've struck a bunch of matches, and I'm randomly lighting fuses, optimistically expecting that one or more of them eventually will burn strong and sure. I would do this methodically and correctly, if I knew how, but since I don't, I'll do it any way I can. That's my marketing strategy: Try everything. Take every suggestion. Go for it.
The second is to write my next story. I thought I would have to put that off, because I don't have a lot of free time, and I need to do No. 1 first, right? Well, no. I just realized that I need to do both at the same time, because I'm in the middle, not at the beginning, and I need to spend at least some of this great, rich middle time doing the thing I love best.
This is an exciting realization. I've begun many stories, and I intend to begin many more, but the one I will finish next is the story of my witch girl. Orphaned and untrained in her art, she's adopted by a motley group of magical nonhuman creatures who have banded together to fight the forces bent on eradicating all magic from the world. It's not meant for young children, though it seems to start out that way:
"Long, long ago, before time followed rules, there was a village of rough people. The women were stout and whiskered, and the men had fierce red eyes. They were usually too angry to speak, but when they did, their words came out in guttural grunts like 'gak' and 'frah.' They often misunderstood one another, which only made them angrier.
"On the outskirts of the village, quite near the edge of a deep, dark forest, there stood a hovel more ramshackle than the rest. It might once have provided decent shelter for its occupants, but many of the slim branches that formed its walls were brittle and broken, leaving gaping holes that the wind whistled through. Mud had been daubed over some of the gaps, but it had caked and crumbled, giving the cottage a scabby appearance. Still, there was always a cheerful ribbon of smoke curling from its chimney.
"Within lived a woman named Maita, who was unlike the other villagers: She was slight and pretty, and she sang. Maita had a small daughter named Breeze. Both had deep blue eyes and creamy skin, but Maita's hair was a cascade of golden curls, while the child's fell in dark, glossy waves.
"Each day, a cohort of village men passed near the little shack on their way to the forest. They usually started out in good spirits (for them), as they loved hunting. Maita would hear the men ack-ing and ugh-ing from a distance. Wishing to please, she would burst into song, which always had the effect of enraging them into silence. Maita interpreted their hush as appreciation, and she would trill all the louder, urging little Breeze to join in. When the hunters heard the child's sweet, piping voice, they would invariably cover their ears and run at top speed to the woods, more eager than ever to wield their axes, knives and clubs on the first hapless creatures to cross their path.
"Maita kept a poor garden that produced hot radishes and onions in the spring and a few stunted potatoes and turnips in the fall. In fair weather, she took Breeze into the fringe of the forest, where they collected armloads of wood for their fires, filled buckets with juicy berries, or loaded their aprons with nuts that fell from the trees. Despite their poverty, Breeze was always pink-cheeked and warmly dressed, though her clothing was odd and colorful -- not at all like the coarse, dark woolens the other children wore. That was because at night, when the villagers' snores rattled their windows, Maita practiced her magic."
I will have to live several lives simultaneously to bring my girl's story out of my head and onto the page, but now that I've got one novel to my name, I'm eager to embark on another adventure. I hope you'll come along for the ride.
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