"Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that...you can make anything happen." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe--
I am at a crossroads with my creative work. The novel I so tenderly crafted from scratch has had to move on from the publisher I'd hoped would be its home. The editor, a wonderfully supportive woman who went through a number of drafts with me, offering her guidance and support, was ultimately unable to convince the "boys upstairs" that it was the blockbuster project they'd been looking for. We parted on good terms--she gave me a list of contacts to use and wrote,
"I told them they will see your book in print and wish they'd gone for this one." Balm for my creative wounds...her kind words.
The contacts have remained in my filing cabinet, the manuscript languishing on the hard-drive and the innumerable crossed-out pages I've tucked under the bed. A busy schedule of teaching and child-rearing has kept me distracted enough to pretend not to care about my setback. I have been rooting into life, breathing, meditating, taking long walks with Petunia, laughing, resting, healing up after a brush with some poor health. But, something in me has shifted in the past week...
In August, I saw a recipe for a magic pie/literary spell for the muse here and, though I was utterly incapable of forming a sentence at the time and blown-out by the lack of progress--I decided to take a creative leap of faith anyway. Anyone who knows me is currently double-checking the picture posted above and saying, "No way she made that." My disdain for cooking is known far and wide...but then, writers will do just about anything to avoid having to actually work, right? Reading Patry Francis' account of the magic worked by the pie for her muse was incredibly inspiring to me. In it, she relates how last August she was, in her words, "an unpublished waitress" whose manuscript was making the rounds...this August, she baked her Literary Blues pie with an advance review copy of her forthcoming novel at her side. Her friend, a fellow-writer, also has worked this particular brand of magic with success. The pie re-creates one served by none other than Pulitzer-prize winning novelist, Marilynne Robinson, during a dinner Francis was guest for (another great story).
So I crafted my very-first-ever homemade pie on an August afternoon, concentrating on things I wanted to accomplish this year with my writing. I expected M. to look at me askance when I offered him a pie (remember, I don't cook)...to say nothing of what he'd think of the "magical" aspect of it. But instead, he was excited and insisted I photograph the pie just right--with talismans of projects-in-process and my pen and ink set present. The kids were completely overjoyed (mom made pie?) and each talked about magic of their own as I set down their slices on the table. We ate with the unseasonably cool late-summer air billowing in the screen door, a candle lit, and blueberry-stained smiles.
My muse, slow to respond at first (likely also suspicious of my cooking) has been visiting in fits and starts. I pulled out the contact list and actually started polishing my letters and the manuscript to send off. These sound like small accomplishments, but when you are plagued with self-doubt as I have been--they are nothing short of minor miracles. A second "story" has started to take shape in the odd collages I am making for it (creating the background in pictures and images, not words--which is unusual for me as well). My anthology project idea has also started to shift focus a bit for me, veering off into personal archeology. But, the most amazing thing of all is that I am writing again...I am falling back in love with the process...savoring the turn of phrase, the revision, the crafting of words on a page. It is heady--intense--and delicious.
I am writing again.
You will never convince me that this isn't, indeed, a strange and practical magic.