I have a blog. Clearly I enjoy writing. I have a degree in English literature–clearly I’m a sadomasochist, lol. I derive great pleasure from reading, well, anything, with a critical eye and being able to give a balanced viewpoint (not even my favorite novels get away without a few black marks against them, even if it’s just a grammar issue), which naturally results in being critical of my own writing. Ironically, the only way I could get through school was by never, EVER proofreading a paper I wrote. If I second-guessed my writing, the result was misery: hours of rewrites, berating myself for sounding insane, or, heaven forbid, tangents. My best writing was always done in two stages: one session for writing the introduction and conclusion, a second session for writing the body, and when I hit mental blocks, I’d take breaks to write out my works cited page. The lowest grade I ever got on a paper was a B-, and that’s the one I tried to “do it right” with–note cards, revisions, peer review, and so forth, over the course of two weeks. The 15 pagers started at 9 o’clock the night before? Always got the A.
Some people thrive under pressure, others don’t. My roommate did exceptionally well on her papers as well, but she was the type to get 30 books out of the library, carefully pare them down to the most important 10-15 works, and she would work on it diligently for at least a few days, if not a few weeks. Writing at the last minute meant we were killing at LEAST one bottle of wine for her–it was too much stress.
Everyone has different styles and methods for what works for them, but in the end they may have the same result. This is true in nursing as well. Oh sure, they’ll teach you how to put an IV in while you’re in school. They might even show you a trick or two. But five years into my nursing career, and I can tell you that I am STILL learning different tricks from different nurses, and that not all IV start kits are the same. Slightly different tools can really throw you off your game and take getting used to. At the end of the day, though, that patient is going to have a working IV, and you may have saved their life.
I’m musing today. I’m musing because I have had a few brushes with writing in a more professional format recently. One of my former students and a dear acquaintance is a professional writer. She writes young adult novels. A little while ago she approached me to consult on a novel she is writing that is going to focus on Wiccan life and culture as her primary subject matter/source material. I consented to be a resource for her work, and this past week I received her first e-mail.
Her questions were straightforward and, really, not all that difficult. What I ran into that made it challenging was realizing that much of what she was asking really depended upon one’s perspective and different schools of thought regarding Wiccan culture and philosophy as well as certain divinatory practices such as runes and the Tarot. Her questions were brief but required a lot of explanation and hypothetical examples to properly elucidate the points being made, and it occurred to me, while responding, that what she was undertaking was truly an immense project, not a simple story of a Wiccan girl. There will of course be those who criticize her work because she is going to end up taking some artistic license, much like Cate Tiernan did with her series, Sweep, but even the “authentic” bits are probably going to result in some people going, “But that’s not how it is!”
Because perhaps they learned it one way. They learned it that way, and that’s what works for them, and perhaps they never had a need to even consider that it could be done another way. Or maybe other methods have failed them. Or it just doesn’t make sense to them. Or perhaps she will have taken just too much artistic license. Pagans can be a somewhat touchy bunch, if only because we have fought so hard for acceptance and to clear the popular mind of misconceptions about us, that any misrepresentation, no matter how benign, becomes a source of frustration. Truly I admire her courage.
Which begs the question: Do I have the courage?
Sure, I have this blog. It’s public, not private. But it’s also mostly read by my friends and family, my coven and members of my tradition. It’s being read by people who understand me outside of the Internet, who think in similar ways, and who love me. There’s a lot of comfort there, and a lot of support.
But a couple of my students have recently made statements that I should write a book. Between the discussions we have at circle, in e-mail, on our Facebook group page (hey, I met my mentors in an AOL chat room, so why not Facebook?), and just hanging out, they feel that what I’m saying, what I’m saying, is worth being written down for posterity’s sake. At first I balked–there are a ton of Wicca 101 books already on the market. I would write a more advanced book, but how do I segue into more advanced philosophy without first establishing a foundation to work up from? Plus, do I have the courage to face scrutiny on that level? I am sure there are plenty who disagree with some, if not all, of my Wiccan philosophy.
But then they had an interesting idea. Writing a book–FOR the coven, for the tradition. Something that elucidates some of the more difficult lessons. It’s difficult to explain the writings of a man born to a Romany gypsy family, raised in the first half the 20th century in England, who had limited formalized education to a group of young adult Americans in the year 2015–but this is what I do, and it seems to be working. A book, a “textbook” of sorts would probably help to streamline this process, and keep me from expending energy repeating myself to future groups of neophytes. It also helps with philosophical continuity, which is part of what the purpose of this blog is, but..it’s a public blog, and not the same as private formal traditional education.
Soldiers, police officers, firefighters, nurses–these professions are all courageous. They do battle against injustice, disease, disaster, and put their necks on the line. But I’m realizing that courage comes in many forms–coaches, teachers, writers…what they do takes its own kind of courage, just as valuable to the continuation of our society and culture. To all people, everywhere, I salute your courage in bringing light to the darkness, protection against danger, and peace out of the fray.