Funnily enough, it never truly occurred to me that if I were to write a book about exploring the existence or non-existence of faeries, people would be someday asking me some very tough questions about them.
My father always wanted to write, and yet was so paralyzed by his inner-critic, he never wrote a single word. Though he told tales of magical Tibetan Longumpas, or a man who traveled the wilderness dowsing for water, after he passed away, nothing remained of these stories except for the flicker of light they'd kindled in my imagination. In order for me to write, especially given my years of professional evaluation of other's writing, I had to shut my inner-critic down. This is an altogether comical process for any writer, and I'm still mastering my various techniques, but the one that has worked best so far, is to simply pretend that no one is ever going to read it. In this way, I write for myself, I write to understand, and most importantly, I continue to write honestly. It's not influenced by anything but my desire to entertain (myself) and learn something about the world around me. And no one else is ever going to see it, I tell myself. Though my inner-critic, sporting a sweater set, plain white pearls, a tight bun and wire-rimmed glasses, whispered evilly, For now.
You look like a librarian. I snapped, knowing this would get her goat. To this, she sniffed, and went back to her reading.
This technique of course, becomes a problem when people do see it.
And then, naturally, there are things that they'd really like to know.
I can't help but smile when I realize in discussing Faery Tale, whether at a party on Sullivan's island or over the phone with a journalist, people are asking me the very same questions I first asked of my interview subjects when writing the book.
But what is a faery? I asked Brian Froud.
How can I see one? I asked Peter Knight.
Why do you believe that faeries are real? (I asked pretty much everybody.)
The trouble is, I'm no faerie expert. Yes, I've been there, done that, and happened to have written the book. But my adventure, truly, is just beginning. The true experts are the people I met along the way -- Sure, I can spout Brian Froud's beliefs, or folk lore, or discuss what the story teller Eddie Lenihan told me -- but as for me, my journey is on-going. I very consciously made the decision that my job as a writer is not to tell people how to believe, or to believe or not to believe, but to share my story, and in sharing my story, allow people to draw their own inspirations, their own conclusions. For my part, my story of 'figuring this all out' continues. What I do, I hope, is to provide both myself and readers with the pieces to a puzzle -- some which are quite compelling -- some which have helped me to believe. But the puzzle itself isn't a puzzle about there being faeries or no faeries. The puzzle pieces belong to the story about the reality of human existence. And that is a wee-bit of a heady topic for any interview; mine or theirs!
Talking 'bout faeries is a favorite past time of mine. I feel so lucky to get to discuss this topic more over the coming months. I continue to do reading, I continue to do research. Most of all, I continue to work over the experiences I had this past summer, but not because I'm combing for more clues, so much, more so because in remembering my trip I can feel its magic once more.
And really, it's that feeling of enchantment, more than anything, that I would hope to share with others. Because only when we can begin to see our lives as the greatest source of enchantment, can we begin to discuss.... anything.