Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Paying Attention

Sunday, October 28 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

Whenever I doubt that some higher force is keeping an eye on the human me, I'm given a little reminder.

Friday's was a praying mantis that had settled on my front door. In most traditions, the praying mantis guides one toward rest, stillness, prayer, meditation and an openness to dream and revelation. In the busyness of my days, I had neglected all of those.

Then, in case I missed the message, my car's battery died the following evening -- in the parking lot of an Albuquerque Hastings store as I was leaving a book-signing for The MoonQuest.

My plan had been to do a bunch of errands before going home from the signing. The higher powers-that-be had a different idea.

After 77,000 miles in 26 months, my car's battery needed more than a roadside recharge. Apparently, so did mine!

With an eye to the praying mantis, I spent today immersed in quiet, renewing my battery for the journey ahead.

It's easy for me to get caught up in all that I think needs doing. It's harder to remember that unless I take care of my physical and emotional health, the human me will be ill-equipped to journey anywhere.

Photo by Mark David Gerson

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Deeper Levels of Trust

Saturday, October 6 ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

I'm at The Ark bookstore reading from my novel The MoonQuest as part of the Santa Fe Short Story Festival.

"When's the sequel coming out?" someone asks.

When, indeed?

I've been so focused on getting The MoonQuest out into the world and completing The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write that I haven't given a lot of thought to The StarQuest.

It's not that I haven't begun writing The StarQuest. I've begun it twice.

Unlike The MoonQuest, though, whose first two drafts each took me less than a year to write, The StarQuest, which has no completed drafts, has been in my life for more than nine years.

When, indeed?

That the question was asked by someone named Ben is significant. There's a Ben in The StarQuest. He's the main character's son. And he's the main character in The SunQuest, the final book of this projected trilogy.

It's almost as though the character himself leapt off the page to find out when I plan to complete his story.

When, indeed?

With The MoonQuest, I rarely knew from one day to the next — some days, from one word to the next — where the story was taking me. It was frustrating, stressful and scary to be forced to live moment-to-moment, word-by-word, in trust that the story would ultimately reveal itself.

It did, of course. In its time, not mine.

As I ponder Ben's question, I realize that what has held me back from completing The StarQuest is a deeper level of the same trust The MoonQuest demanded of me. By this point in The MoonQuest, in terms of page count, I had a sense of what the story was about. Not a complete sense, but enough to keep me going.

The StarQuest has yet to similarly reveal itself, and I realize now that I have not trusted it enough to continue.

I was ready to trust The StarQuest only to the extent that I had trusted The MoonQuest. Where's the growth in that?

In writing as in life, we're constantly being pushed to have more faith, to trust more fully, to surrender more completely. It's true for Toshar, The MoonQuest's protagonist. It's true for Q'nta, The StarQuest's protagonist. No doubt, it will be true for Ben as well, when I get to The SunQuest.

Meantime, it's certainly true for me -- in my writing as in my life.

I still can't answer Ben's question, but I can commit to whatever level of trust my stories (and his) are asking of me. And I do.

While you're waiting for me to finish The StarQuest, check out The MoonQuest.

It's a five-star selection on and a story the
Midwest Book Review calls "an evocative and emotionally moving tale of adventure." The Mindquest Review of Books calls it "an exceptional, timeless novel."

The MoonQuest makes a great gift for the holidays! (Find out where to buy it and read/hear excerpts at

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Shining Hours

Wednesday, October 3 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

This moment, this minute
And each second in it
Will leave a glow upon the sky
And as time goes by
It will never die

Those Johnny Mercer lyrics from the song My Shining Hour float through my mind as this day, my 53rd birthday, draws to a close.

As adults, our milestone birthdays are generally the decade-markers. Turning 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 have a particular significance to us that 27, 34, 42 and 53 often lack.

I remember most of those landmarks in my life: On my 30th, I was on a bus tour in the border country of northern England feeling nauseous. On my 40th, I stepped off the ferry into a new life in Nova Scotia...and a stomach-churning panic. On my 50th, an uncomfortable sense of foreboding proved accurate 30 days later when my marriage suddenly ended.

Frankly, so many of my birthdays have heralded uncomfortable shifts that their approach tends to make me nervous.

Last night, I made a different choice.

After nearly three years of full-time travel, this would be my first birthday off the road and the first in my new Albuquerque home. It would, I determined, be a new kind of portal -- one that would be low impact, high vibrational...and fun. One that would anchor my desires, and a way of being, for the coming year.

It has been all of that. Apart from the usual calls from friends and family, it has been a quiet and low-key day: a morning and evening hike in the Sandia foothills; a long, meditative soak in the tub; selective work tasks that move both The MoonQuest and The Voice of the Muse forward (tasks performed at my favorite cafe over a pleasingly decadent coffee drink); and a delightfully self-indulgent gift to myself.

It was a day without expectation or necessary outcomes, a day stripped of perfectionism and self-judgment -- a day filled with shining hours that were all, as Mercer put it in his 1943 song, "calm, happy and bright."

Most importantly, perhaps, it was a day that perfectly models the potential carried by every day. It was a day that reminds me that the most powerful birthdays are not those once-a-year (or once-a-decade) landmarks. Rather, they're the ones that set in motion a year of shining hours, each a brilliant spotlight of consciousness and possibility.

Incidentally, Johnny Mercer wrote My Shining Hour for a film titled The Sky's the Limit,another reminder to carry into all the new moments of my new year.