‘I can see angels standing around you.
They shimmer like mirrors in Summer.
But you don’t know it.’ (‘Among Angels’, Kate Bush)
I have decided not to post anymore excerpts from my forthcoming memoir for the foreseeable future. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that each excerpt is just a first draft which will require judicious editing. In addition, I feel that by posting too many passages, I’m just giving too much away too soon! However, I appreciate everyone’s interest, and will instead be updating viewers to this website with regular news regarding the general development of my memoir – which will be my third book.
For me, the completion of this book will represent the completion of a particular cycle in my life. And even though Homo Jihad and Pharmakeia are vastly different, both in style and content, I think when read in conjunction with my memoir, many will consider them, in some respects, to form a trilogy. At the heart of both novels and the current memoir is a conflict or battle between the forces of light and dark, good and evil. This may sound a tad old-fashioned to some but being human does not allow one to escape the ethical/moral dimension of life. And neither does being a writer. As Susan Sontag, American writer, film-maker and political activist, writes, ‘Obviously, I think of the writer of novels and plays as a moral agent…This doesn’t entail moralizing in any direct or crude sense.’
So far, the word count of the memoir stands at over 64,000 words ( 200+ pages). Both Homo Jihad and Pharmakeia came in at between around 70,000 and 80,000 words in total so I definitely feel I am on the home straight! For me, this means, by hook or crook, it will be published. And hopefully sooner rather than later. I am aware that it was a good five years between my debut novel and Pharmakeia being published. But hey, it was not always easy to balance working full-time with my passion for writing.
So what’s new? Well, the working title is evolving. I had previously called it ‘Love’ and then inclined towards a title that included the word ‘metanoia’. What’s with all the foreign words in the titles of my books, I hear you ask. (Jihad, Pharmakeia, metanoia) Living in London, I have always been open to different languages and cultures. And sometimes, a word in another language just clinches it in a way that a similar word in one’s home language does not. ‘Metanoia’ is a wonderfully positive word. It means ‘change in one’s way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion’. Having said all this, it’s quite possible this working title may develop or change in the future. I worked through several working titles when writing both Homo Jihad and Pharmakeia. In previous incarnations, Pharmakeia was called Notoriety, Human Demon,and The Butterfly Net. And I do remember Homo Jihad was initially called The Shield For Seven Angels. (Far too fantasy genre!) But still – for me, a working title is an interesting concept, in part because it guides the work for a certain period of time. It may or may not end up as the final title of the published book.’Love’, as you can imagine, has been an incredibly inspiring working title and has guided and reminded me to write from the heart. This has been invaluable, in part because I am writing about a number of personally traumatic events in the memoir. But in the process, I have discovered a greater compassion for myself and others.
What else is new? Apart from making real headway with the forward thrust of the main narrative, I have also attended to some restructuring. Without giving too much away, I had a mystical/spiritual experience over ten years ago which has always stayed with me. Originally I had described this experience about a third of the way into the memoir. However, that quiet intuitive voice, which we all have if only we would listen to it (!), advised that it would be better right at the beginning of the memoir. So this is how, at present, my memoir opens. And I feel the memoir, as a whole, is so much better for it. Without going into too much detail, it frames the whole work beautifully and honours this sacred experience.
Reflecting on this period in my life and this particular experience has made me reflect on the nature of ESP experiences in general and how they are often perceived by others. It has taken me some time to accept and honour those times in my life where I have perceived and experienced a reality that transcended this one. And I am talking about intoxicant-free extra-sensory perception and experience. Some of these experiences are related to the passing of people close to me. Some experiences have served to warn and protect me from the negativity and ill will of others. Other experiences have served to protect me from myself. I’m not sure why these ESP experiences happen to me but I do know that if I ignore or discount such experiences, I do so at my peril.
I think psychic ability and a heightened intuitive sense can manifest to different degrees and in different ways for many people. Some people may be lucid dreamers, others may experience angelic visitations, visions, or sense the presence of people who have died. In the past, I have felt wary about sharing these experiences with certain people. Many people’s world view is defined strictly according to the perameters of science and what their five senses tell them. In Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg, an eighteenth century Norwegian visionary and Christian mystic writes:
‘Further, the body’s visual organ, the eye, is so crude that as everyone knows, it does not even see the smaller elements of nature without a lens, much less things that are above the sphere of nature, as are all the realities of the spiritual world.’ (76)
I guess you could say that researching Swedenborgian ideas about the spiritual world and the afterlife has influenced my memoir. So too have Buddhist ideas, including the Three Jewels and maps of the afterlife chronicled in texts such as The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. But because many Swedenborgian ideas resonate with my own intuitive take on things, it feels like I’m rediscovering what I already know. He was a Christian reformist and often very critical of mainstream Christianity. He was also very inclusive of other world faiths. He believed that Heaven and Hell were states of mind. That Hell was a deep-rooted opposition to love and that all angels were once people. I leave you with the sublime Among Angels by Kate Bush.