What Kinds of Books Are Witches Really Seeking?

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

This is a question that I've been pondering for some time.  I find that it becomes all the more important at this time of year as we rapidly approach November and the National Novel Writer's Month (NaNoWriMo).

I have completed the challenge three times so far and with each manuscript I felt (as does every author, I'm sure) that it was the perfect remedy for what passes as literature on the lifeless bookstore shelves.  Now that I'm in the middle of seeking a publisher (yes, still) I'm wondering if I could have been horribly wrong.  So I think the best thing is to ask the book-hungry masses themselves--what is it you really want to see in print?  Where are you in your practice that hasn't been addressed?  What books need to be written?

I normally don't divulge information about my books, even to those who know me fairly well in person, but I'll give you here all that I can say.  My first NaNo win was with the manuscript I'm currently trying to get published.  I'm changing the title to something with a little more spice, so I don't even have one to offer you at the moment.  It's non-fiction, of course, about 250 pages plus illustrations.  The crux of the book is as a guide for intermediate to advanced practitioners who want to be connected to their surroundings, the land and its resources, and their communities both magical and mundane.  And all this is to further their magic. But we're not talking mental exercises and meditations to meet with the fairy queen; I prefer real-life instructions, getting your hands dirty, and actively working with everything available to you.

It's definitely a biased statement but I think this manuscript is amazing and needs to be on every occultist's shelf from the city walk-up to the country farmhouse.  I've been working on it, refining it, adding, subtracting, and shifting since I completed it in 2011.  But its information goes all the way back to the beginnings of my practice in 1996.  I would dearly love to see it in print, not so much for me but to see if my ideas might raise the level of discourse about advanced practices.

My second manuscript--which was, oddly enough, the first thing I wrote back in 2001--is a spellbook, The Book of Brass Mirrors.  It's 150 pages of all-new and unique spells, formulas, and charms.
Even at the time I knew that was cliche.  It seemed back then that everyone was working on their own "Book of Shadows" that would shock the world with its brilliance.  But I never claimed that.  My only claim to originality was that these were spells for odd situations, daily occurrences, and issues that don't neatly fit into the standard boxes of "love, money, health, protection, and power."  It was written with an eye toward the thrill of classical spells, an adoration of legends, and the feel of a talismanic book. 

I originally wrote it to pass down to my children.  That is still a worthy cause in my eyes and I would like to see my personal works remain in our family even if our children choose to stop practicing once they become adults.  But after this book was underway I began to think a little wider: I would share it with our coven...I would self-publish it and distribute it to our covenmates...I would make it the standard text of our coven...I would sell it to witches I know and travel to meet with new ones...--and finally--I would try to have it published and distributed by a real publishing house.

As you can see, my delusions grew to the point of so many other writers--"You will, nay, must love and adore and crave my book!  You will stare at the blank ceiling at night, sleepless without it!"  With a generous eye-roll to my former self, and maybe a little pat on her wildly optimistic head, I can say now that this is not at all the case.  I still think it's interesting, maybe even discussion-provoking, and I know firsthand that all of the spells in it work quite well, but it's not about to be one of those books that claims to be the only one you need.  I don't think any book in the world can truly manage that.

My third win was just last year and was a first for me--a 140 page work of fiction.  I wrote a selection of all new magical fairy tales, but with the same feel of the classics, called The Thousand Fruit Tree.  I can't say very much about it as a whole because each of the stories are so different that it's becoming something of an unruly collection.  I don't read fiction, either, so the likelihood for error in fundamental story construction may be dangerously high.  But the stories were great fun to write and, in true non-fiction writer fashion, each contains a unique and helpful magical moral.  I don't like things without a point.

But now summer is ticking away and fall is filling in its leftover spaces, making me think more and more about what my project will be this November.  I have several ideas in various stages of organization, but nothing that dazzles me right now.  And then I thought of it.  Perhaps you can tell me if it sounds worthy.

Many years ago I had a strange occurrence.  I was staying up late reading and working at magic, as I often did then, and I felt compelled to make a simple little book of folded paper and staple it.  Now here's something about me that you would only know if we met and managed to be under particular circumstances together: I absolutely love blank notebooks.  The idea that it's a book not written, a journal of experiences not yet felt, just thrills me.  It's like the missing eye of Wodan/Odin that sees the unmanifest of the world.  It's such a wonderful thought that I often keep a new notebook untouched for weeks before doing anything besides running a hand across its cover.

So, there I was, brand-new book in hand with nothing to put in it.  I laid it aside for another day but then suddenly picked it up again.  I flipped it open and started to write.  It all sounded great (which usually means that it will be, in the harsh light of day, absolute garbage) and I wrote without stopping for more than an hour. Then I went to bed.  When I woke up the next day I remembered the book and opened it to see how comical it might be.  But I was surprised to see that it was still decent information: multiple lists of exactly how to go about a complex task--attaining a preeminent status in the magical community.  When I had finished it the night before, I'd written with a flourish its title on the front: On Becoming a Legend.

This is definitely an overblown title--and may turn out to be an equally overblown book--but I think it's something to get the mind working.  Though the original is only 10 or so pages long, it might be a fun project to expand into this year's NaNoWriMo.  But now I leave it to you, reader.  I don't know if I'm really interested in continuing to write and write with no clear plans of what to do with the results.  It's pretty standard to see publishers openly state their disinterest in "revealed text," as this may be.  But I don't know what else to do with it besides sit on it.  So what do you think?  Are you interested in becoming a legend? Do you know a legend and are ready to prove me wrong?  I'm open to all opinions and suggestions, here and elsewhere.  And, naturally, I'm open to accepting writing partner requests from fellow NaNo-ers as I traverse the rocky road to November.

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About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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