Those Whispers

There’s a young woman circling me. I can catch brief glimpses of her, as if shadows moving behind trees. Occasionally I can hear her whispered voice, but it may be the wind.

I’ve seen her walking above the sea alone, face lifted to the salt air. I know she feels cleansed, but I also see how gaunt she is. She’s simply escaped the mountains, but not whatever it is that haunts her.

DSCN0427

There’s an old woman waiting for her. A grandmother, or maybe great-grandmother, in her end days. Some say she’s lost her mind, but what some see as insanity others see as vision, finally clear.

It’s like writing. This young woman circling me, creeping up on me, whispering to me, isn’t real. Or at least not yet. But she wants me to tell her story because she can’t. And there’s some mystery there, on the wild edges of the North Sea, where she now walks.

DSCN0515

Some of you nod, recognizing the writing process, understanding that voice in the place where stories begin.

Others, who don’t understand the writing process, might hear this and think it strange, or wonder about someone who says they hear voices in their head.

But this…this is how a story begins.

DSCN0337

She’s too shy yet. She doesn’t trust me fully yet. She’s not ready for the story to come to me yet.

But she’s there, working her courage up to come fully forward, to step through the door.

And this…this is how her story begins.

DSCN0402

Word Limbo

I’m in that limbo stage between stories. It’s a weird place to be, having no story to sink into on my writing days, or daydream about on non-writing days. Since I’m a slow writer, this phase only comes along every few years. But when it does, I’m left weightless, not grounded by words.

IMG_3211

Getting set up for the recent get-together

What happens during those dreamless days? Well, I make many false starts on new stories, trying to force the words.

I fail.

0831191442a

View from the book launch setting

I find myself almost desperate for an idea. That’s not because there are no ideas during this phase. There are always ideas. It’s more that the ideas are like hummingbirds, shying away on speeding wings at the slightest movement in their direction.

Have you ever tried to chase a hummingbird? You can’t even tell what direction they’ve gone.

0831191331

First few people beginning to gather

Time gets filled with going empty-handed to the critique group. Sitting there pathetically, envious of all the flowing words. And yet not too envious because the stories always come back and I know this.

0831191454

And so there’s a tiny bit of anticipation, there under the day-to-day grind, fluttering in the subconscious.

Something is on the way to me.

Some story is tentatively moving in closer, getting ready to light on my shoulder and whisper in my ear.

Soon, I hope.

DSCN0027

Rocinante – known to, unfortunately, leap off fences and catch hummingbirds in mid-air. 

Marketing Demon

A couple weeks ago, a marketing person who also happens to be a friend, told me I should have a book launch for the new book. My response included the words ‘No thanks’, ‘nope’, ‘no way’, ‘not going to happen’ and every other version of ‘no’ you can think of.

Which of course made me pause and wonder why that huge wall immediately reared up.

morning star 09 030

Arthur on the Morningstar route of the Wall

The first thing to pop into my head was the scene I’m sure we’ve all been in. That moment when you walk into the book store looking forward to a relaxing leisurely browse with the reward of something new to read at the end. But instead, parked across the entryway is a starving author sitting behind a folding table, peering up desperately over the a pile of books. Everything screams of selling, of ‘BUY MY BOOK!!!’ and also whispers faintly of desperation.

So you squeeze by the table, nodding politely, immediately swamped with guilt.

I remember one time a man started talking about his book before I was even fully through the door. And it wasn’t even a polite introductory question along the lines of ‘do you like romance?’ which gives you the opening to say ‘no’ and sidle sideways. It was all about how wonderful his book was. I remember muttering something about not reading that genre, and realizing my mistake when he then went off on how his book just happened to cross all genres.

morning star 09 008

Rowan starting up

You get my point. That incident was pushy and all it did was make me take his business card so I’d remember in the future whose book not to buy.

I explained that to my friend and told her about the big wall I felt when she said ‘launch’. She said what she had in mind was a get-together with friends to celebrate the accomplishment of finally finishing the book.

Well…okay…maybe…I don’t know…

morning star 09 046

Getting there…

She talked about spending an hour or two with friends at the meadows that are a location in the book. Of how we could invite the fire department to do a demonstration on earthquake preparedness. About how the espresso stand at the meadows could do a special drink with the book theme…

And suddenly, without me being fully aware of it, we’re having a party.

morning star 09 059

Almost…

Will there be books to sell? I suppose. A few, maybe, in the background. Or maybe I’ll just bring one to show what I managed to accomplish after four years of work. But the main thing is it’s going to be a fun afternoon with good friends and good coffee and music.

No starving authors will be allowed admittance.

And best of all, I can avoid the demon of Marketing, also known as the demon of pushing your book on people.  I know there are ways to sell without being pushy, but I’m just not comfortable with the whole marketing aspect of writing. So instead, I’m going to sit in the meadows, with the lovely view of mountains and waterfalls, and enjoy a day telling stories with friends.

That I can do.

morning star 09 002

And done