The Birth of a Book
It’s fitting that I should be contributing to New Week New Face this month with an excerpt from The MoonQuest, as it was 22 years ago this month that this book I wasn’t expecting to write and knew nothing about showed up in my life. Here’s the story behind the story…
It’s March 1994. I see a Celtic tarot deck in a metaphysical bookstore and it so seduces me that I can’t walk away from it, even though I don’t know how to read tarot and have no desire to learn. My resistance is futile, though, and I walk out with the deck. A few mornings later as I’m preparing for a writing workshop I am to teach, the deck catches my eye. As I browse through its evocatively illustrated cards, I realize why I had to have it: I will use it as part of a writing exercise for the workshop.
That evening, I have each student draw, closed-eyed, one of the cards. I then have them open their eyes as I guide them through a meditative journey into writing. Everyone immediately launches into a frenzy of creative output and I’m relieved, not only because the exercise is working but because it has justified my extravagant purchase.
Even though I never participate in the writing exercises when I’m teaching, some inner imperative insists that I also draw a card. Moments later I too am writing. What emerges is a tale drawn from the image on the Chariot card I have drawn.
I know nothing about this story that seems to be seducing me as efficiently as the deck of cards that sparked it. All I know is what emerges, word by word, onto the page.
Next morning, lured back into the story, I add to it. I continue adding to it daily, almost obsessively, rarely knowing from one day to the next what the story is about or where it is carrying me. A year later on the anniversary of that class, I complete my first draft of the fantasy novel that has become The MoonQuest. Two months later, I launch into a second draft, with this prologue…
The MoonQuest: The Q’ntana Trilogy, Book I
Na’an came to me in a dream this night. It was early. I had not been in bed long and the night was newly dark.
“It is time,” she said, “time to fix The MoonQuest on parchment.”
I was gladdened to see her after so many seasons, but I was not cheered by the message she bore. I tried to engage her in other discourse, but she was single-minded as only a Tikkan dreamwalker can be.
“It is not for me to boast of my exploits,” I argued. “Others have sung them. Let them continue.”
“No,” she said, and her silver tresses shimmered as she shook her head. “It is your story to tell. It is for you to fix it in ink, to set the truth down for all to read.”
I tried to resist, to shut Na’an’s words from my heart, to return to the dreamless sleep that preceded her appearance. But Tikkan speak only what we know in our hearts to be true, and my heart would not close to her even as my mind longed to. Only by forcing my eyes open and my body to this table was I able to banish her milk-white face from my mind’s eye. Only by letting my quill rasp across the blank parchment have I stilled her voice.
But my quill hovers over oceans of emptiness. I don’t know what to write, where to begin. The story has so many beginnings and no clear ending. As a bard, as Elderbard, I am trained to know how to weave disparate elements into a tapestry of word and song that brings light and meaning to life. When recounting others’ stories, I have no difficulty. The tales unfurl from my tongue as if by magic, as if M’nor herself were singing through me.
Na’an says it is my story. Perhaps she is right. Is that why the words come so reluctantly? So many seasons of storytelling and still I hesitate. Of all the stories to stick in my throat, how ironic that it should be The MoonQuest, a tale of the freeing of story itself.
You see how confused I am? I have not even introduced myself. My truth name is Toshar and I am old, so old that most who knew me by that name have passed on to other worlds.
Toshar… Even I have forgotten the boy who was Toshar, the youth who embarked on The MoonQuest all those seasons ago.
They call me Ko’lar now, the ancient word for Elderbard. It is a sign of honor and respect, but it separates me from the youth I was.
Perhaps Na’an is right. Perhaps it is time to bring back Toshar, to allow the boy I was to touch the man I have become, the man I will soon cease to be. Soon it will be time to release the ageless spirit from this aged body and move on to other realms, set off on other journeys. I have seen it and I welcome it. But it cannot be mine until I have told this story. Na’an insists.
She speaks, even as I sit here in full wakefulness, staring at the shadows cast by my flickering taper. Now, they loom, large and menacing. Now, they flit and flutter in delicate dance. I see it all now, in the leap of light against dark. The shadows will tell me the story and I will write what I see. I will write until my fingers and beard are black with ink. I will write until the story is told.
Only then will I be free to continue my journey. Only then will my daughter, Q’nta, be free to continue hers. She is nearly ready. Ryolan Ò Garan taught her well, taught her the lessons of The MoonQuest. Soon she will live them through my words and will be free to assume the mantle of her birthright, according to the ancient orders of succession:
From father to daughter, mother to son
The mantle passes, the Balance is done
I was an exception to the Law of Balance, a law as old as the land itself. But those were exceptional times, the darkest of ages, in a land where “once upon a time” was a forbidden phrase and fact the only legal tender.
That was the land I was born into, a land of slaughtered bards, a land dulled and divided by fear. That was Q’ntana, and this is its story, and mine…a story that begins once upon a time.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, The MoonQuest would become the first book in fantasy trilogy that would ultimately produce The StarQuest and The SunQuest and call itself The Q’ntana Trilogy. Look for all three Q’ntana books in paperback or ebook from your favorite online bookseller or signed by me to you from www.theqntanatrilogy.com. And watch for The Q’ntana Trilogy Movies. That’s right, all three stories are being made into a trio of epic motion pictures from my screenplay adaptations.
Benefit from Mark David Gerson’s nearly four decades of writing, coaching, teaching and editing experience and become the author you were meant to be!
The award-winning author of 12 books whose readers span the globe, Mark David Gerson electrifies groups and individuals around the world with his inspiring stories and motivational talks, seminars and workshops.
Mark David’s books include five critically acclaimed titles for writers, including Birthing Your Book, The Voice of the Muse and Organic Screenwriting; award-winning fiction, including Sara’s Year and the Q’ntana Trilogy of fantasy novels; and such compelling memoirs as Acts of Surrender and Dialogues with the Divine. His screenplay adaptations of the Q’ntana books are on their way to theaters as a trio of epic feature films.
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