Or maybe I'll finish producing it this weekend. It all depends on how quickly the other projects come together.
A long while ago now I posted on facebook that this book could have far-reaching repercussions in my life. I didn't want to go into details, which worried some people. The kind support warmed my heart. Whatever happens with After, it was and is my choice to publish it, and I'll live with the consequences, whether they're negative, positive or a mix of both at the same time. Chances are that the people who might object in a way that could make my life miserable won't ever read it. That won't necessarily keep them from passing judgement, I suppose, but unless they hear about it in some way, they shouldn't feel a need to.
I don't make a secret of my beliefs, but I don't talk about them much either, especially lately. When I was young, I think I spoke more about them because I wanted to share my experiences. Subconsciously I may have also been testing society to see where I fit in and how it would react as a whole. That openness helped me connect with other like-minded people, and I even spent a short time with a coven. I miss them ....
As I get older, the more private I become. It's not fear. I know where I fit in. I don't feel a need for everyone around me to know me well enough to share in the knowledge of my connection with the wider, spiritual world. And if my friends want to know, they can ask. (That's permission right there if any of you are curious but are shy or worried that you might be crossing a line.) As for the confidence ... I'm not. I'm absolutely confident about what I experienced first hand. I even believe most of what I've heard and read, though I now listen with a keen awareness of how experiences and beliefs can be rewritten in the person's own mind and heart to fit with what they expect and want.
Ultimately, it's that expectation and desire for my experiences and understanding of the physical-spiritual world to fit into something easy and comforting that has silenced me. The older I get, the more I realize that it's more important for me to learn something true and experience something real than to have a religion that almost-but-not-quite fits with what I believe. That much as I want to be part of a larger community, my religious experiences keep pushing me out into solitary expression and study.
I wrote After as a work of fiction, not as a religious text. There's a lot in there that's meant to be story, not parable. The book is about KJ, not me, and it's about her growth beyond the life that both nourished and confined her. My childhood and marriage were and are radically different from KJ's, though on paper we appear to share minor elements. I didn't write After as therapy. I don't need any.
But I did want to write a work of fiction that had a pagan aesthetic closer to my own, rather than the more mainstream pagan culture, if there really is such a thing. Measuring against that bar, I succeeded. Today I would probably write a different book. But at the time that I wrote After, I wanted, maybe needed to reveal little pieces of my heart and I hid them away in the words on the pages of that book. There's no need to go looking for them. Chances are that if people go looking for them, unless they know me very well, they'll only find themselves.
I'd count myself most fortunate if they did find themselves. I couldn't ask for anything better than that.