It happened earlier this week in the Financial District of San Francisco. It was a rainy workday and I was sitting in a café editing Wycaan Master, my fantasy novel, when these two beautiful women entered. I’m a guy: I peeked, taking in their tightly, swept back hair, high cheek bones and narrow eyes, all accentuated by carefully applied makeup. They were both tall and thin.
Then I realized. I had been disappointed as my gaze moved to their ears. Their ears were not pointed!
I was shocked. I had really expected pointed ears? It’s this elf thing…it’s taking over. When I am writing a story I am absorbed…totally. Even when editing, I am completely caught up in the story. I can read an emotional scene a dozen times and still be moved to tears (Confession: I once cried during a Simpson’s episode, but that’s for another time).
However more recently I am taken when I see someone who might fit into my fantasy world. A walking stick becomes a staff, and I expect a short, bearded man to have an axe at his side, not an iPhone.
It is taking over.
I’m not the first to stumble down this route. In his excellent book about writing fantasy, Terry Brooks admits to disappearing into the world of Shannara. Often it happens when he is at the dinner table or with family or friends. His eyes (so he is told) gaze into the distance and everyone understands.
Now Terry Brooks can get away with it for two reasons:
1) He is older and entitled to a senior moment.
2) He is a best-selling author and there is nothing like success to romanticize a little eccentricity.
While I will one day be older, if the gods allow, the success isn’t assured. I am going to have to learn to curb my imagination, to stay in this world until sleep or time in front of a computer allows. A few glasses of single malt can also help.
But I don’t want to block it. My characters are part of my life, their challenges are my problems, and their triumphs are my successes. If I block them out just once, will they come back when I beckon them?
It’s tough living in two separate worlds, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Finally, it is St. Patrick’s Day. Did you know the Irish for whiskey is ‘Uisce beatha’, which literally means ‘water of life’?
Live Green My Friends.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written two fantasy novels and the first has been entered into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in January 2012. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@elfwriter).