Fiction remains a bit of a mystery to me. Each imaginary tale has its own unique process of conception and gestation, and I still have no idea whatsoever how, or why it works. Non-fiction, on the other hand, has much clearer origins and everything I’ve thus far written on that side has come about via a fairly similar process.
I’m an avid reader and will try just about anything in terms of subject matter and genre. I read a lot of non-fiction, and will have a go at any topic if it’s written intelligently. History, natural history, philosophy, religion and politics tend to dominate. My natural response to finding a topic I’m not up to speed on, is to get a book or three. Currently that means I’m reading a lot of politics, because I need a better handle on that aspect of society and I do not know enough about where we are right now, much less how we got here. I’m finding plenty of books to answer that.
On the Pagan side however, there are a lot of introductions and far fewer in-depth books. When I started getting into meditation with a view to running groups, there were only a couple of books with any obvious relevance to what I wanted to do. I had exactly the same experience after reading Blood and Mistletoe – there was nowhere obvious to go to read more about Pagan relationships with ancestry. Then I started exploring prayer, and hit exactly the same problem. In each of those three cases I started reading around, looking at other traditions, experimenting and asking questions.
Druidry and Meditation, Druidry and the Ancestors, and Druidry and Prayer (not available yet) all came out of the process of not being able to easily find what I needed. It makes me very conscious that all spiritual books are basically human inventions, and that none should be granted too much authority. Religion is entirely a consequence of people making stuff up and writing it down, usually in response to a perceived gap in the already available information. Nothing else is available. It’s all guess work, experimentation, jamming on other people’s ideas, and trying to make sense of the world.
In each case I’ve become more aware that there is no way I could nail any issue or put together some kind of definitive text. Sure, there’s an ego drive that way, I expect most authors want to write something ground breaking and definitive, but mostly we won’t. These will be steps along the way, and others will carry on from them (hopefully) to write something better, deeper, more insightful and more relevant.
I mostly end up writing my best shot at the book I really wanted but could not find at some key point in my life. The most recent, Spirituality without Structure, is the book I could have done with when I was about nineteen and starting out along my own path in earnest. Currently I’m working on something about dreams, which I the book I was looking for in my early twenties, that neither psychological writing nor new age stuff was able to deliver for me. I have no idea what comes next. It depends entirely on my becoming aware of an absence that matters to me.