I'm writing a book. You have no idea what it feels like for me to even say that. I am enjoying it so far, even though it can be very frustrating at times, but it can bring out all the feelings of being a fraud, of not being good enough, educated enough, well connected enough, to have the audacity to attempt such a thing. I "should" be doing other, more responsible things, like figuring out what I'm going to survive on in my declining years. Or putting up curtains. Like I said, though, I'm enjoying it. Creative people rarely make decisions to do creative things based on logic. I never have. The results have been mixed. One time I got a 25 year career. Other times...crickets, as they say.
Earlier in the year I taught a little Celtic Studies series for some friends. As with the book, the research for that was surprisingly time-consuming, but also very enjoyable. It's exciting finding out things I didn't know that I didn't know. Following up on things I remember hearing about and discovering that some of them are actually useful, and knowing that I've got my facts right and ready to share with others. Sometimes it's frustrating. I don't have ready access to a big city library, and most of the books I need are British, but I'm in the US. I'm constantly banging my head against the paywall behind which so much academic research lies. I suspect I may be single-handedly keeping Amazon afloat.
Like with the Celtic Studies class, I get joy from helping people make sense of history or mythology, of the facts behind things which allows them make informed choices about their spiritual ideas. Celtic Studies is a tough area. It's an area which is defined as much by what we don't know as what we do. Even helping people to understand why there are things that aren't known, probably can never be known in many cases, is important. I like to think it might protect them, at least a little, from all the dodgy information that gets copied and recopied from cheap book to bad blog -- well, you know! I hope I can even do that in a way that feels friendly and accessible, rather than formidable.
My emotional life, my mood, isn't great a lot of the time. My usual spiritual practice is a bit patchy, too, and yet I feel incredibly close to the goddesses I most closely serve. And why wouldn't I? I'm writing about them. I'm writing for them. What a privilege! How exciting to immerse myself in topics I love! I was thinking the other day about an interview I heard, or read once, with Pagan historian Ronald Hutton. The interviewer was pressing him about his personal beliefs and practices, and his response was that, for him, study and writing, doing his best to set the record straight for his readers, was a kind of spiritual practice in itself. At the time, I thought that all sounded very dry, but it's beginning to make sense.
I am no Ronald Hutton. I wouldn't compare my level of scholarship to his, and anyway, my approach to my subject is different, but I see now how both research and writing can be deep work on a devotional level.
Oh, yes, I'm supposed to tell you what the book is about. I'm sure my friends and regular readers won't be all that surprised to hear that it's about the Celtic horse goddesses - Epona, Rhiannon and Macha. I'm attempting to draw together quite a few threads, including my personal experiences both with horses and goddesses, the "scholarly" information on them, and some bits of folklore, folk practice and philosophy that I believe are relevant. So that's a pretty tall order, I know, but I'll give it my best shot.