Switching This World With That One

thinking-writing[1]Many writers who celebrate Christmas probably find December the busiest, most stressful time of the year. I know I do. It’s not that I don’t love Christmas and spending time with friends and family. It’s all the work that leads up to it while trying to balance the day job, and family responsibilities with writing time.

It’s especially challenging for writers with younger kids and/or aging parents, who depend on us to do their Christmas shopping and wrapping, and for those of us who also step up bookselling opportunities.

This year, I find myself preparing for Christmas while editing my first fantasy novel. The novel focuses on Wicca, witches and the proverbial battle between good and evil. Divided into five sections, the one I’m working on takes place in York, England in 1953, a drastic contrast to my real life.

Having written nine mysteries set here in Vancouver and in current time, I’m used to editing in familiar surroundings that deal with real-life types of crime. So it’s a little strange to switch from craft fair bookselling, tree decorating and other chores to writing about spellcasting and run-a-muck serpents. It’s also rather fun.

Although I’m living in two different worlds these days, I usually manage to find myself fully engaged in both. With a lot of practice and not a lot of writing time, I’ve learned to switch gears fast. Within sixty seconds of sitting down and propping my fingertips over the keyboard, real-life tasks fall away and my fictional world takes over.

To be honest, I don’t want to live in a fictional world full time, especially one that deals with the death and destruction that comes from my imagination. From 2010 to 2013, I did write full time, and I’m grateful for those days because the extra time helped me finish projects. I have to admit, though, that I only wrote a couple more hours per day than I had while doing a day job. After writing full time for a year, I missed daily interaction with the real world, not to mention the steady income, and the challenge of writing efficiently while getting everything else done.

For me, it’s not about having more time to write, it’s about making the best use of the time I do have. It’s about quick switches and ensuring that one world doesn’t overwhelm the other, and somehow it works for me.

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#amblogging: Wicca: Where Everything Old Is New Again

I don’t have a strong religious background. My Sunday school education ended at age twelve. Neither my parents nor any of my grandparents went to church. Lately, though, I’ve become interested in reading about all types of religious beliefs.

In particular, I’ve been reading about Wicca, primarily because it’s at the core of an urban fantasy I’m writing. I also took an introductory course on the topic last year. That six-evening session was so interesting that it inspired further reading. Our instructor recommended books by Scott Cunningham, so I picked up a couple. Here’s a snippet of notes I made from his work:

. Wicca is a loosely organized pagan religion centering toward reverence for the creative forces of nature, usually symbolized by a Goddess and a God.

. Wiccan’s spiritual roots accepts magic. Wicca doesn’t solicit members because it doesn’t claim to be the one try way to deity. (I like that part.)

. Wicca is a joyous religion that stems from a kinship with nature. It is a merging with the goddesses and gods, the universal energies that created all in existence. It is a personal, positive celebration of life.

. Wicca arose from shamanic beginnings, which the author says was the first, original religion. (I know plenty of Christians who would disagree, but there you go, diversity of opinion, right?)

. The Wiccan rule of morality: do what you want, as long as you harm none. Also, do nothing that will harm yourself. Concern and love for the planet is at the heart of Wicca.

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Wicca has gained a lot of popularity over the last twenty years. You could say that it’s been making a slow but steady comeback. As hard as some people tried in earlier centuries, this earth-based religion never really died. If practitioners are true Wiccans, they use magic solely to make the world a better place, to heal and to help.

As with most fantasy novels, authors who write about witches are actually writing about Wiccans gone wrong. It’s where a writer’s imagination takes off, and why I love this genre as a reader and a writer.