In ages past the Celtic tribes of Britain spoke of a Time Between Times, those blurred twilight borders between day and night, between seasons, between one year and the next. It’s a time when the eyes of the earth are closing for slumber, when the sun retreats and the moon and stars rise to take the stage. In Celtic tradition and legend, this was a time when the veil between this world and the Otherworld grew thin, where the laws of time and space might be broken. A time of beginings and endings. Of birth and death. Often a magical time.
Maybe because I was born during one of these times, the old Celtic New Year of Samhain, which we now call All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, I’m attracted to those times. I become more attentive to the world at twilight. I feel a special peace during the brief, pearly gray before the sun rises. I much prefer spring over summer, and fall above all other seasons.
There’s another Time Between Times for a writer, and here at the end of 2011, not quite the start of 2012, I find myself there again. It’s the period of days, weeks, or months between the finishing of one novel and the starting of another. This time between is a blending of the satisfaction and fulfillment of the story just told and the anticipation, uncertainty, and hope for the story yet to be born.
I’m never quite at ease when I’m not writing, but during this time I remind myself that when I’m not writing… I still am. A writer needs to allow time and room for her new characters to speak up and declare themselves. For me, that means picking the right books to read, fiction or nonfiction (and putting aside for later those that aren’t filling the creative well), and keeping a notebook handy at all times.
That’s where I’m at here on the cusp of 2012, in the hopeful, anxious, suspenseful place between a finished book and one not yet formed. Waiting, listening, scribbling ideas, dates, timelines, back stories.
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