Personal archaelogy

I was up early, watching a UNC-EX program on the crocodile god in Egypt. Lots of images of sand sifting through ruins, and archaologists digging layer by careful layer.
I've been asked lately about how a book begins, and it seems at least for me it begins only when there is enough history accumulated. What happened when I was 5 or 11 or 23 or 36 is still there, like the ruins buried in the desert. Then something new occurs that reaches right back through the layers like a shaft dug straight into the past.
It's a certain slant of light .... a note from an old bell ... the way a dirt road curves into a forest and the sky reflects from a crescent puddle.
Then, and only then, my senses and emotions awakened, is there a sense of a story waiting to be told.
And interviewers have asked, of course, how much overlap there is between author and character. Does Tracey in Blood Clay represent my feelings in her sometimes caustic comments? Is she me?
Well, no. But she has some parts of me, as Dave does, and others.
If the story rises out of a deep place, I think what makes it more than a moment of nostalgia is when this intensely personal element intersects with wider societal issues. It gains breadth and moves out from a single source, opening to embrace the world.
Like an X/Y graph, the upright runs through the writer's spine - the chakras - the centers of all that we are,  phobias and pains, triumphs, strengths, desires. The character, however outwardly shaped, is made out of the person that I am as well as the writer I've become. The horizontal arm - society, family, community - intersects with the vertical, and at that point - a story.




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