Lessons Of Book

Jul 9th, 2013 | By | Category: Cat Heath

As far as months go, this past one has been pretty interesting. About a week ago, I finished the first draft of my first book, and more significantly, seem to be solidifying future plans that are actually appealing to me.

A few years ago when I was particularly disenchanted with my previous career in teaching, my husband asked me what I wanted to do next with my life, and I couldn’t answer him. Over the following weeks, I came to the conclusion that I had no idea, that quite literally, beyond getting by in life with my loved ones by my side, I had no dreams. At some point, between the various moves, my husband’s deployment to Iraq, and the disappointment with a career I used to love, the dreams I had had gone the way of the dodo.

The funny thing with losing your dreams though, is that you then lack the drive to make things happen, when you lack the drive to make things happen, they often don’t happen, and congratulations…you just gave birth to a beautiful baby vicious circle.

I honestly don’t think there’s any easy way out of this either, but actually forcing yourself to complete things, and not just a few things either, but many things, until you can complete most of or all of the things!

But you have to have that breakthrough when you complete that one thing that gets you back onto the road again before you can start to tackle those ‘more things’.

For me, that first thing was an academic paper about my main goddess, Frija. It was no mean feat either, taking months and months of research (a lot of it in German), and then months of writing. The sensation of satisfaction and euphoria when I finished it though, was indescribable. For the first time in years, I had completed something.

Some Heathens talk about the sensation of being ‘pushed’ by a deity to do something. Well, when it came to that paper I felt very much ‘pushed’ to make an oath to do it, and that was a good thing. During the times when I almost just let it drop like so many other pieces of work, it was that oath that kept me ploughing through long complex etymologies in German scholarly tomes, and writing until I couldn’t see straight.

But there are different types of pushing I’ve found. Some pushing, is born of obligation, other pushing though, is like a madness that burns through your blood, and can only be exorcised with words.

This was how it was for this book, a book about Seidr – that elusive form of magic mentioned in the Norse sagas.

At first, it started out slowly, like a niggle in the back of my mind that had me looking at Woden’s godpost in the living room a little more than usual. Then it grew, and soon I was writing the first chapter with no real expectation that I’d have a book at the end of it. Then the book would bug me while at work, or on the bus, or going somewhere in the car. The research I’d done, and over a decade’s worth of experimentation doing crazy things like climbing into Bronze Age burial chambers at night ate away at me, as though my research and stories were impatient people in a queue waiting to be dealt with, each lining up in order of discussion. By chapter three, the idea that I was writing a book had solidified in my mind, it was on, I was going to do this, and I developed my own little writing rituals.

For example, I now have writing music, the formatting has to be *just right*, and if I’m having a hard time putting words together, as odd as it sounds, I cover my head with a shawl.

With each chapter that I wrote, the more I added to my book, it was like the gaining little pieces of me back. Almost like some kind of rebirth was taking place inside, and I found myself having those previously near-mythical things called ‘dreams’ and ‘ambition’ again.
These ‘lessons from the book’ shouldn’t surprise me though, I mean not *really*. After all, when I was a teacher, I often felt that I was learning more about my subject matter through the act of teaching than I ever had as a student, and what is a non-fiction book other than a form of teaching? Heck, even fiction teaches us valuable lessons.

I know the lesson isn’t over yet, and while I’ve graduated from ‘Book 101’, I still have ‘Book 102’, ‘Editing 101-Goodness Knows How Many’, and all kinds of other experiences surrounding this book to learn from. But these are lessons I’m beginning to welcome as readily as the Wódnes-frenzy that burns in my blood to get this done.

One Comment to “Lessons Of Book”

  1. Mum says:

    That is beautifully put xx

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