Hot New Releases in Cultural Heritage Fiction
Last weekend, a confluence of generous circumstances I could never have imagined (nor engineered) led to The Munich Girl’s landing on several Top 100 lists at Amazon, staying #1 on one of them for several days.
Almost exactly a year ago, I began a discussion with Marina Dutzmann Kirsch, the talented designer who would eventually create the novel’s cover and interior, plus be a remarkable doula in its publication process.
I thought I was mostly thinking aloud, that day. If I’d known Marina better then, I’d have known what was coming next — that her response was about to unleash the pace of the final stages of my book’s publishing experience. The best way I’ve found to characterize the very rush of it toward its end is like a delivery’s intensity after the extended, persevering period required of a mother in labor.
Marina has an energy I couldn’t even have estimated, let alone fathom. Within hours she had created a cover and interior design that felt like something I’d already known, seen, held in my hands. It was as uncanny as so many revelations in the process of this book have been.
The immediacy and intensity of her response was a prod that seemed to bring the book’s finish line up to my very nose as I watched. There were still segments that remained unwritten at that point, although I use that term differently now than I used to. Today I might say that they just weren’t yet captured on pages. My entire experience of “writing” this book has been like finding – hearing, seeing, feeling – the words of its story like a sometimes hyper-vigilant scribe.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert, an enduring favorite in my world for so many reasons, has again shared remarkable insight about creative process in her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I remember once thinking that I ought to write a book on something like that topic myself but I think that idea went and found a phenomenally better-equipped partner.
That is the essence of what she shares: that ideas and inspiration, like denizens of a kingdom all their own, search for human collaborators to bring them into reality. We have the choice of whether to say no or yes.
“If you do say yes to an idea,” she notes, “now it’s showtime. Now your job becomes both simple and difficult. You have officially entered into a contract with inspiration, and you must try to see it through, all the way to its impossible-to-predict outcome.”
Within my own experience of that over these last years, I’ve discovered that going that distance will also require not doing, and not giving attention to, quite a number of things. It will mean, as Liz Gilbert’s subtitle suggests, moving beyond fear, after meeting and facing it, of course.
The paradox is that the fear comes from the part of myself that is incapable (if unassisted) of going the distance, but resists accepting, surrendering to, that truth. I honestly believe that once a lot of the absolutely junk conditioning of our world — the kind that tries to demean the validity and value of intuition and emotion for the sake of keeping things off-balance for worldly gain — is ceremoniously unseated, we’ll experience a lot less of that particular kind of fear.
What the pathway of creative process has repeatedly extended over these last seven years of my life is the chance to nearly step around that fear, at times, and around that conditioning that’s always insisting that things must be done a certain way, so that certain others may be pleased. Saying yes to ideas and inspiration that call to us inevitably means saying no to those kinds of demands.
Full-on “yes” to creative process can feel a bit like jumping off a cliff at first, in its mere unfamiliarity.
But once that part’s behind us, it becomes the delightful flow of an invitation that seems to say, “Just come along and pay attention, and keep focus. And even (gasp!) enjoy this, why don’t you? Wait till you see the fun surprises on their way.”