Long ago, when I was a shy newbie writer with only a few short stories under my belt, I took the plunge and joined a writing critique group. At the time, we were composed of two retired gentlemen who wrote westerns and science fiction, one teenaged poet, one published mystery novelist and me. The first story I shared was a horror tale, about a death metal band with sinister intentions toward a young college student. I read the requisite five pages, and waited for the group to comment. The western writer laid my pages down, looked at me and said, “What drugs were you on when you wrote this?”
He wasn’t the last person to ask that question, either. I’ve had coworkers, friends and relatives who couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that a nice girl like me wanted to immerse herself in a world of things that couldn’t exist. Surely that was for children, that kind of thinking.
What about those of us who are still children at heart? No matter how old I grow, I can’t help hoping that I’ll turn a corner and find myself face to face with the Sidhe. I watch the woods along the interstate when we’re travelling, certain that Robin Hood and his merry band will suddenly appear and take me on an adventure. I build sand castles at the beach every year, on the off-chance that one might spring to full-size when I’m finished. Real life is there all the time, every day when I open my eyes. I don’t want to read about what I see around me, but about the layer underneath, the hidden mysteries that glitter at the corners of my vision.
When I started writing my own stories, that same desire remained, fueled by the possibility that I was, at last, crafting the magic myself. Those early stories were clumsy and hollow, but with time, I’ve become adept at choosing the right words, lining them up in the right order, and making something special appear out of thin air. The Sidhe are over there behind that bookcase. Robin Hood is outside the window, peeking in at me.
No drugs, sir. It was just me learning how to make my own magic.