Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Beckoning

As promised, I am beginning the discussion of the stories in the Northwest Independent Writer's Association (NIWA) anthology, Underground. All proceeds from sales of this anthology go to NIWA to continue its work in supporting independent writers in the Pacific Northwest.

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My short story is titled "The Beckoning." 

As with many authors, one doesn't always know all the themes of a story.  What is even more exciting to me is what other people see in the story.  I love the way editor, Jennifer Willis, described my story to a reviewer. "“The Beckoning,” is an ethereal tale of merged consciousness. It might just knock readers on their ear. "

As my stories, including my novels, tend to be psychological and character driven, I conceived of the theme “underground” as what lies below the consciousness of our minds. I believe that the unconscious holds our fears, joys, abilities, our learning center, and our souls. As a creative person, I really can't explain how exactly ideas are merged together in my mind to form a unique story. I know that my stories are a combination of my personal experiences and beliefs and those that I read or view vicariously. I know that I am always surprised at some of the themes that are revealed when I finish a story--themes that I did not intentionally plan to be included.

I am a writer who tends to begin with a question or an idea first. I then search for characters and lives to answer the question via a story. In "The Beckoning," I began by asking the question that many speculative fiction writers have asked: “Is there a force beyond this world and, if so, does it have shape and form? Does that force exert any control or pressure on our world, and does it communicate with us?”

In “The Beckoning” I imagined a being whose soul purpose is to give its knowledge to all living things on earth. The way in which this knowledge is acquired and dispersed, as well as its impact on humanity, is the central action of this story. I also play with the idea of how the human psyche deals with messages that seem to be coming from outside our consciousness.

My young adult to middle adult career path was in counseling individuals and families in a variety of situations. One part of that work was a year working with severely mentally ill individuals who had horrific personal experiences related to spiritual beliefs. Some of these people heard voices, others saw angels and demons,  others had suffered trauma at the hands of religious leaders or their followers. It led me to question what happens when we hear or see experiences that we deem as coming from a source (God or otherwise) outside of ourselves--a source that seems to be all powerful and where we have little control in terms of our response to it. How do we process that? Can we process that and remain sane?

This story does not posit whether there is a God or not, and does not try to suggest a spiritual path. But, for me, it does question what is real and what is not, and how the human psyche tries to deal with what it cannot explain.

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