Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Signs, Banishing Rituals, and the Throne of Reckoning...

What led me to write paranormal? Nothing less than a sign. The kind of spiritual sign that is akin to the slap of a frozen salmon upside the head. The kind of sign that says, "Wake up, stupid! You haven't been listening! Go. Do. This. Now."

I need the big signs. I can be a bit dense... though I prefer to blame the constant need for multi-tasking. :)

I had been sticking to writing straight historical romance for so long that I had convinced myself that I couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't try anything else. In fact, I had accumulated so many rejections that I had slowly, steadily, painfully arrived at the certainty that I would always be two steps behind the market trends in romance; that I was just not a person who could ever consider herself lucky. It just wasn't in the cards for me to be successful in romance.

I'd hit a particularly low point while attending an all-day workshop with a nearby group of writer friends. By that time, I'd already received the "SIGN!!!!!!"--an epic, fun, cool idea for a paranormal themed mystery series set in modern day Indiana--but didn't have the courage to follow the idea to fruition. At this everyday writers workshop, there was an exercise that we were all supposed to take part in, one that smacked of a banishing ritual to me. All writers present were supposed to take a length of toilet paper, and on it we were supposed to write a list of all the things that we saw as obstacles or challenges in the way of our success as writers, any frustrations that were affecting our work, any whining we needed to get off of our chests, and we weren't supposed to be nice, or hold back in any way. If we needed to bitch about anything and everything under the sun, this was our chance.

Well, I try to be a nice person on a day-to-day basis, but that wasn't what this exercise was about, and on that particular day, something inside me just . . . snapped. {I think maybe, just maybe, it was my niceness bone...} I measured out a length of toilet paper, then measured out a little more, broke out my gel pen, and started writing. And writing. And writing. Everyone present was laughing at how long it was getting, and at how fast and furious my pen was moving across the, um, page. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say, anything that had or was going wrong at that point in my adult life was touched upon. It was negative, and it was petty, and it felt SO GOOD to flush that toilet paper down the throne of reckoning.

And it was a turning point for me. Somehow, in some way, that simple act of symbolically flushing away all of the negativity in my life cleared the way and began to open new doors for me, both spiritually and mentally. I wrote the book that I worried I wasn't a good enough writer to do justice. I started plotting out the series in my airy-wispy-atmosphere-filled-seat-of-the-pants way -- enough to get the bones of it, but not enough to remove the element of synchronicity that keeps me going. I found an agent who loved it, who found a publisher who thought it could work. And from those baby steps, we moved forward with The Bewitching Mysteries.

What do I like best about telling Maggie's story? The freedom. The absolute, utter freedom of creating a world filled with characters I love. Characters who speak to me and whisper their stories. Characters who could be walking the streets of the town I live in {but who, of course, aren't}, who are familiar and down-to-earth and filled with the quirks and idiosyncrasies we all seem to have in abundance. I love being able to bring a taste of Indiana, one of those forgotten states that exist almost nebulously somewhere in the middle of this great nation, into the public eye {and yes, we are aware that most people know nothing about us beyond the Indy 500}. I love being able to show a variety of spiritual and religious beliefs, and I love being able to talk about religious intolerance and hopefully demonstrate that it is never a one-sided issue. I love exploring the spirit world, and the ways that it touches our own. And I love writing Maggie. She is a searcher, and through her journey toward self-discovery I have learned so much about so many lovely spiritual paths. And what's more, I get to do it with a wink and a smile.

Love to all on this lovely autumn day,

Mad {madly!}

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