A Life Most Magical,  Adventures in Indie Authordom,  Be Your Wild Authentic Self,  Writer's Life

The Pendulum, the Raven, & the Witch: Navigating the Labyrinth of Story

Discovery. That’s the word I’m using to describe this creative process of mine. “Pantsing” is the slang term in the writing community—you plot, or you fly by the seat of my pants.

But flying by the seat of my pants—pantsing—doesn’t feel right. Part of me knows precisely what I’m doing, where I’m going. But it’s a part of me that doesn’t speak in words (which is seven different shades of ironic, given that I’m a writer).

There’s a flash of an image—an old spellbook that promises magic, an amulet containing faerie magick, its surface antique gold and emerald green.

There’s a “what-if” question followed by the magical tingling of a new idea. “What if a woman were trapped in an oak tree, only to awaken in another time?”

There’s a character who whispers to me, wanting their story to be told. There’s a phrase that echoes in my mind, a sort of earworm whispered by a wild witch or a wise woman, until I sit before the page and follow those words like my White Rabbit, tumbling down, down, down into another world.

I know without a doubt that my path is creative, but most days I’m not sure whether I create my stories or am merely their vessel.

Some days, I just know that I’m a storyteller, arriving at the page with a cup full of tea and a fistful of faerie dust.

As I’ve launched my indie career, sharing my stories with the world, I’ve had many moments where I struggled to balance business with creative work. At the end of the day, I’m in this to spin amazing story-yarns, to weave tapestries of worlds full of magick.

Promise. Potential. Journeys.

Wild paths wending through ancient forests, portals swirling with wisps of magick. Souls that are open—or opened, through the character’s journey—to the possibilities all around us.

When I become overworked—a human doing rather than a human being, to use the cliché—I become cut off from the things in this world that sing of potential.

The robin who’s taken to spending time beneath the pine tree in our backyard, under which we’ve put a circle of low stones. The way my dog entices me to play, and the decisive way he chooses a stick (stick selection is a very important skill that young Leo has cultivated).

Sometimes, when I hear thunder rumble in the distance or the first splash of rain against the window, I make myself a cup of tea and just sit, listen to the storm.

I am one with all of this. Listening, every day, to the world around me. Observing, with joyful reverence, these simple offerings.

Stories are born from many places. Writers approach their work in many ways.

Photo by Rafif Prawira | Unsplash.com

And me? I discover. First, I find an entryway, a wrought-iron gate at the labyrinth’s entrance. It might be a character, a premise, a bit of phrase, even the etymology of a word. And I enter the labyrinth. I backtrack, get lost, get found, work my way toward that sweet triumph of the story’s end.

As writers, we’re all in the labyrinth. The “plotters” have a map of sorts to guide them. The “panters” like me? It’s more of a pendulum, a gentle tug of intuition and magick guiding us.

No project has taught me more about my journey than Vi and Aiden’s in Tangled Flames, the second Tangled Magic book. I spent a long time fighting—with the story, with my process, with the waxing and waning energy that comes along with fibromyalgia—before I paused.

I’d stopped listening. And for me, as a discovery writer, that’s akin to shoving my pendulum in my pocket and running through the labyrinth. It’s a bad idea. If I’m lucky, a wise raven lands on the twisting branches that edge the path, calls out. If I’m smart, I listen, change course.

These days I’m leaning into my process. My process, for now, is the deep dive. I’m living very much in Aiden and Vi’s world—grieving their pains, facing their fears, swept up in the currents of love, passion, doubt, uncertainty, magic that surround them.

And I’m learning. I’m listening. Not just to my characters and their stories. I’m listening to the magick. I’m listening to intuition. Vi and Aiden’s story, Tangled Flames, will be available this autumn (before Samhain/Halloween, if all goes according to plan). I’ve delayed the release to allow time to deepen the story.

I’ll be creating a section of book excerpts soon, offering a permanent link to a scene, chapter, or section of each published or soon-to-be-released story, but for now, here’s a newly written excerpt from Tangled Flames, from Vi’s point of view:

I shuffled the tarot cards, my body swaying slightly as the trance state took me. There was a softness, a lightness to trance, like falling into a downy bed full of crisp sheets. My skin hummed, electric with magic, tiny, invisible flames of fire magic singing along my nerve endings.

I sighed a contented sigh, the deck pleasantly heavy in my hands now.

Ready? My spirit whispered.

Yes, the cards seemed to whisper back.

TANGLED FLAMES (TANGLED MAGIC BOOK #2)

I can hear the rush of the fountain that lies at the center of the labyrinth. The raven, with his wisdom, assures me I’m close. Unseen magick tugs the pendulum, urging the word-witch on. I’m close. The story is close.

The thing is that it’s all magick. The stories. The words. The work that supports them. The walks. The rainstorms. Leo and his sticks. The cup of tea in my hands. My husband’s laughter. My favorite folk song. The music, the laughter, the seasons. Whether it’s words, images, moments, senses, silence, stillness, movement, there’s magick.

Witch. Writer. Woman. Magic-worker. Earth child. I am these. I am many things.

Note: For a deeper discussion of discovery and outliner writing styles, Quill and Books has a great post.

What about you? Does your spiritual path ever influence your writing? How would you describe your creative process?

Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland faerie. Witches, magic, & romance await in the pages of my stories.

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