Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Unexpected Joys of Authorship

Being an author comes with many rewards. The first, of course, involve the joy of creation and the sense of accomplishment when the final period drops onto the final sentence of the final draft...often years after the first word of the first draft found its way onto the blank page. 

As miraculous as that instant of completion felt for me with The MoonQuest, another moment was more powerful still: when I ripped open the FedEx envelope that held my advance copy of the published book, my first. Thirteen years, two months and a few weeks after the beginnings of a story I knew nothing about had pressed themselves into my consciousness, I cradled the results in my hand and wept. Only the birth of my daughter eight years earlier surpassed the emotion and exultation of that experience.

As the weeks, months and years passed, first the The MoonQuest and then my second book, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Writeoffered up many more occasions for joyful tears: multiple awards, glowing reviews, enthusiastic reader response and, of course, a movie deal encompassing not only The MoonQuest but its two Q'ntana Trilogy sequels. 

While neither book is yet a runaway bestseller, both The MoonQuest and The Voice of the Muse have attracted intensely loyal readers who have never hesitated to share with me all the ways that my books have deeply moved them and profoundly transformed their lives. In turn, their comments have deeply moved me and, in some cases, transformed my life. 

I can't speak for all creative artists, but this one still carries some core insecurities about his abilities and his work. It's not always easy for me to grasp how much my books are loved...and reread. As gratified as I am by the praise, I am sometimes equally baffled. "Me?" part of me still asks. "How?"

Thankfully, I have grown past the phase when I worried that perhaps I was a fraud. Still, when circumstances prompted me to reread the opening 40 pages of The MoonQuest a few weeks back, for the first time since proofreading its galleys five years ago, not only was I startled by how good it was, I was startled by how startled I was! Perhaps it has taken five years' distance to begin to be able to read those words as others read them.

Or, perhaps I'm not quite there yet. 

Last night, I received an email from singer/songwriter Amy Robbins-Wilson inviting me check out a video she had just recorded and asking my permission to release it publicly. Inspired by a scene in The MoonQuest, she had written and performed "Eulisha's Song," a stirring, evocative prelude to the journey that Eulisha's grandson, Toshar, would be called to undertake in the book.

Toshar, Amy explains, has just retired to his room after Eulisha urges him to embark on The MoonQuest. "I wondered," she says, "'What would Eulisha do while he slept?' It felt like she would sing and pray and send her power forward into the darkness to light his way."

I watched and listened to Amy's creation in rapt astonishment — not only because of the content of the song and by her haunting rendition, but because of the fact of the song. Although many, as I noted earlier, have shared with me their passion for The MoonQuest, this is the first time, to my knowledge, that any of that passion has inspired a work of art separate from me. 
"I started work on the song a couple months ago," Amy says, "and it all came together in a long car ride where I had to pull over at least three times to write down what I was singing. There are so many songs to be written for The MoonQuest."
So many songs...so much inspiration... For me...from me. Perhaps that's the ultimate reward of authorship: knowing that even as I have moved on to other stories, this one lives on --  not only inspiring others but also inspiring new creations in a never ending cycle of creativity. What could be a better life for a story that, at its root, is about the rekindling of blocked expression. And what could be a better gift for its author. Thank you, Amy. • Purchase The MoonQuest on my website or Amazon MoonQuest ebooks for Kindle, iBook, Nook or Kobo • Candle photo: rgbstock Direct YouTube link to Amy's video Please "like" my Facebook pages: • Acts of Surrender book • The Q'ntana Trilogy Movies • The MoonQuest book • The Voice of the Muse book • Mark David Gerson

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Power of Your Pen

Pick up your pen and hold it in your hand. Feel its weight and texture. Study its form and aspect. Sense its potential.

Can you see or imagine the ink that sloshes around in the barrel as you move it this way and that? Can you visualize the waves that crash from one shore to the next — waves of blue or black or, if you’re more fanciful in your implements, magenta or fuchsia?

Your words bob up and down in that sea of ink, in that ocean of story that ebbs and flows from barrel to nib to page.

Don’t push your pen as you set it down on the pristine whiteness of the virginal page. Follow it. Allow it to carry you on a wondrous journey as you surrender to it and allow it to chart the course of your creativity.

Follow your pen. Let it guide you on a safari into the darkest of Amazon jungles, the uncharted territory of your deepest self.

Your pen will map out the journey, inking your itinerary as it forms before your eyes, allowing you and your readers the freshness of new experience.

Follow your pen, as I do at this moment, not knowing where it will carry me, allowing my terror to exist side-by-side with my awe and wonder, each word emerging despite my resistance to it.

I, too, fear the unknown, despair at the necessary surrender. I, too, long to know how this sentence will end and who I will be when it does.

I cannot know...need not know...at times dare not know.

All any of us can do who are called to this journey is place one word after the next and then another and then another, allowing the power of our pen — or of our fingers skipping across the keyboard — to chart the way, pen stroke by pen stroke, pixel by pixel, moment by moment, breath by breath.

~ excerpted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write by Mark David Gerson (c) 2008

For additional tips and inspiration, pick up a copy of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The Voice of the Muse Companion CD from my online bookstore, and be sure to ask for a signed copy of the book. Both are also sold on Amazon

The ebook is available for Kindle, Nook, iBook and Kobo. Download an MP3 version of the CD at CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon

Fountain pen images: #1 unknown; #2 Athena www.bit.ly/Hxv2Cd

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