Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s Magical Journey comes to early end | Life and style | The Guardian
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Aspen Words: You came to novel writing later in life, having worked as an entrepreneur for most of your professional career. Why did you finally start?
It took me a while to work up the courage to do it. From grade school through college, I was told that creative writing would be impossible for me due to my dyslexia. But writing was a compulsion. Once unfettered by academic constraints, I ventured into poetry, which felt approachable because it struck me as bad grammar raised to an art form. Photography was another creative outlet, as was writing nonfiction. However, writing a novel was always out there as the ultimate goal, yet out of reach. I took some workshops and even slogged through a two-year course on grammar for adult dyslexics.
Eventually it came down to either abandoning my dream or sitting down and writing. MT: Faerie [the imaginary world of fairies] is in my blood, or at least Ireland is. My ancestors are from the counties of Clare and Meath, so when I decided to write a novel about magic, it had to be set in the Emerald Isle. While traveling in Ireland, I discovered a character that insisted I write about her, one who was inspired by the Celtic legend of Red Mary.
This led me to base the book on the premise that all the old legends, myths, and faerie tales were true and the magical beings in them co-existed with humans during medieval times. In those tales, faeries were depicted as large and powerful; they even procreated with humans. I lost myself for a few days in the story of Katrina Kenison's journey. It was triggered by a convergence of events that unfold for all of us in one form or another: the unexpectedly premature flight of her youngest son from the nest, the loss of her friend, the end of a job she had loved, the approach of menopause, and the impending arrival of her 50th birthday.
Among other things. I see it now as an attempt to sidestep the emotions that come with loss and the unrelenting reminders that nothing, absolutely nothing, is permanent. I am learning the long, slow, hard way that the key to growth and peace lies in how I respond to that single, incontrovertible fact. As I read her book, I felt as though I were taking each step with her, sometimes forward, sometimes back, and sometimes into familiar territory. When she described finding herself suddenly untethered to the daily routines of childcare, I remembered the first year after my son went away to school.
Kenison explores the idea of appreciating the small moments of life in her book, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, where she focuses on family life and the importance of holding sacred the ordinary moments of parenthood. In Magical Journey, she returns to this familiar theme but played out on a different stage. She finds new appreciation for the idea that all of life is a gift, and happiness does not depend always on doing or achieving but more often on simply being alive in the world.
Although she and I are nearly the same age, my own journey through this stage of life began 15 years ago, when my only son left home. I worked through a decade of re-inventing myself in my forties, only to find myself here in my mid-fifties and feeling the need to do it all over again. Reading Magical Journey felt as if Kenison were extending her hand and inviting me to walk this road with her. In a recent blog post, Kenison talks about the risk a memoirist takes in putting their vulnerability before the public.
And in that vulnerable revealing, in the stumbling, wayward truth of that story, lies something that is worth offering: not the gift of what we have accomplished but rather the gift of who we really are. Subtitled An Apprenticeship in Contentment, reading these simply and lovingly written chapters is akin to having contentment injected directly into your spirit.
I urge you to get a copy for yourself so you can do the same.
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Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment
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