A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

My Photo
Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Friday, December 08, 2006

First Christmas Card

I don't get a lot of Christmas cards, so the ones I do get are especially treasured. The first card I usually get--and this year was no exception--comes from Stochastic Press, the imprint of a talented brother/sister team of my acquaintance. Christopher is the writer, and Carolyn is the artist. I don't know too many other people who design their own cards from scratch, even in this age of DIY when computers make such projects a snap.

Christopher, like me, was raised a Roman Catholic, and cheerfully celebrates Christmas, even though on the Belief-o-matic quiz (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/76/story_7665_1.html) he ends up something like a Mahayana Buddhist. (Belief-o-matic, btw, rates me a Unitarian Universalist, and puts Roman Catholicism dead last on my list. Sorry, sister Scholastica.) I can't speak for Carolyn's current beliefs.

Every year Christopher invents a fable, and Carolyn illustrates it. This year's story concerns the three Magi, and follows them on their trip to Bethlehem and back. Chris gives each magus a distinct character.

Right there is the difference between the two of us as writers. Chris has just finished writing a historical novel, and will soon begin editing it. I have no doubt the book will find a publisher, as Chris already has several books in print and other impressive writing credentials.

I, on the other hand, have trouble making things up. I've got a great idea for a historical novel myself, but as I sketch it out, I keep coming up against elements about which I feel I'm insufficiently knowledgeable. I worry excessively about anachronisms, for example, although, if they were okay by Shakespeare, why should I care? I struggle over creating a fictional reality at a point in time and space where, unbeknownst to me, something else entirely actually existed.

I guess I'm underestimating the power of narrative on an audience. All that other stuff goes out the window when you're in the grip of a story. Skeptic that I am, I don't understand how we can ever know anything at all for certain. But maybe, as a writer, I should try writing my way out of this problem. Starting with something small and harmless, perhaps, like a Christmas card?

Labels: , ,