Seeding the Work

The day of the eclipse, a rabbi friend of mine posted on an interfaith newsletter how a Jewish person might get the most out of the eclipse. As I read his words I marveled at how closely his own ideas paralleled my own tendencies. Later that day, on Facebook, Pagan and Christian friends posted about their own experiences of the eclipse, how they enjoyed it, the energy they felt throughout its duration. Again, I recognized the similarities to my own feelings.

Me?

I was at my day job in a small law office, watching the quality of the light change outside my window. There was a palpable shift as it progressed, as if something weighty and intense hovered just around the corner. Everyone seemed to be holding a collective breath. With no eclipse glasses, and no punctured shoebox, I couldn’t actually watch the Moon take bites out of the sun, but I could still feel the experience.

Ten minutes before the peak, I took my bottle of bubbles outside (what? You don’t have a bottle of bubbles at work?) and stood under the darkening sky blowing bubbles. A gentle breeze blew them across the grass or over the roof or out into the busy street, but at one point, it blew them back toward me. One largish bubble came so close to me I could see my reflection in its surface, which caught me off-guard. I don’t think that’s happened before, or at least I never noticed if it did—mind you, I am no novice bubble-blower—and it brought back a conversation I had the week before.

My friend William suggested I should write a story that showcases my (non-standard) belief system. I told him I already had. That my beliefs are reflected in all my works. How can something so basic to my nature not show up in what I write? Every one of my stories has some taste of my spirituality, some more than others; my novel, The Founder’s Seed, is thick with it. Even were I to write a story about a Christian character, or a Muslim one, or a Jewish one, my own deeply held faith would leave its mark. I can’t help it.

Because isn’t everything we do, everything we create, every word we write a reflection of who we are? Whether the threads provide a subtle background or weave shining through the entire piece, they are most certainly present. At least they are in my own work. Behind the plot, between the lines, in the character’s thoughts or deeds—somewhere, in some small (or large) fashion, they shine a light on me and on my own search for answers. Perhaps they even offer potential answers to my questions or dilemmas.

Sometimes my stories stem from my beliefs, which prompt me to question everything. Nothing is sacrosanct. “What if?” comes naturally to me, and I often wonder at the Machinery of the Universe.

Many of my life experiences also show up in my created worlds. After 57 years, memories create a colorful tapestry of scenes and dilemmas from which to draw. Often my characters are a crazy-quilt of qualities or habits from long-time friends, short-term acquaintances, or someone I met once at the gym.

Just as my breath gave life to those bubbles on Eclipse Day, so too does my essence enliven my work. I absolutely believe that it is these pieces of myself, seeded carefully among my written words, that make my writing worthwhile. I can’t imagine doing this any other way.