Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Magical Thinking by Anna Michaels
Naming literary influences for my debut novel would send me scurrying to the bookshelves to find the lyrical stories of Pat Conroy and Elizabeth Berg, the powerful prose of Jodi Picoult and John Steinbeck, the wonderment of Alice Hoffman, Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, and Emily Dickinson. But the truth about writing The Tender Mercy of Roses is that that no matter how much I admire the work of another author, I had to vanish to a place that’s all my own in order to create the kind of magical realism the story deserves.
Initially my writing place was filled with sunlight spilling onto my desk, cardinals swinging on the lady banks rose outside my window, gardenias scenting the room, silly floppy dogs under the desk licking my ankles, a cup of hot tea within easy reach, and wind chimes singing a silvery song beyond the porch swing. But that’s merely the physical realm. This novel could never have been created solely with the conscious mind grounded in a place that can be seen and heard and touched.
This story came from dreams spinning their magic while I slept and a rambling rose in my Enchanted Garden that only bloomed after the death of a beloved friend and the beat of Native drums called up from memories buried so deeply they could only surface when I let myself vanish into a place somewhere in the unconscious mind. It’s a place not easily found, one that requires abandonment of the ego and total surrender to the Writer Who Listens to Music Only She Can Hear.
How do I know? Because each time I read the story during the long journey from creation to publication, I fell in love. I laughed and cried and cheered. And I felt as if I were reading a novel written by someone else.
Actually, it was. When I’m writing I am not Me. The flesh and blood writer in baggy sweat pants and tee shirts who battles chocolate cravings, hates exercise and constantly tries to keep two not so smart but mostly lovable dogs from vengefully soiling the rug while she glues herself to the chair in front of the computer somehow transforms herself into a Woman Whose Dogs Would Never Pee on the Rug, a Woman Who Sees Deep Inside the Soul and Writes With Wings.
I wish each of you a holiday season filled with joy and peace and magic.
Anna Michaels lives in an enchanted cottage in Mississippi with two obstreperous dogs who think they run the show. Her debut novel, The Tender Mercy of Roses, will be in bookstores May, 2011. Visit her and see the cover on Facebook and at www.annamichaels.net.