Saddest thing I ever saw at the tender age of 12 yrs old was on the cover of a Newsweek magazine. The image of a mermaid lay dead upon a boulder, as a stormy sky and turbulent sea raged behind her. I wanted to save her. There’s something visceral about the death of a mermaid or a unicorn that reaches humanity in a way that other losses don’t effect. It’s like the hope of humanity dimmed. We can’t think our way through it. We must feel it. The tangible universe exerts its reality on us. But…but still, we believe in realities that extend beyond what we are told of our limitations. We want to believe!
I would later write a poem about this mermaid. About how life had gotten the best of her, for all of her regrets of leading others into the nebulous sea to be her lovers, for the life she lived that was not her own, and for not following her heart.
Through the years, I felt that her story was incomplete. So I wrote a short story—ten pages of a young man’s encounter of her. She teased him so, begged him to come into the water with her. He would have none of such nonsense, and she would have none of his excuses. And in this exchange, each’s true nature was revealed. All that is good. All that is pure. They were known for the first time in their lives. Of course, they were not ready for such potential in themselves and went their separate ways.
One fine day, I was driving along the highway and thinking (as I often do in wide open spaces, with time on my hands) of these two would-be lovers. My own potential came into being. I realized this short story was only a first chapter in a novel that I would write. Wha? I never wrote a novel. How would I do that? Never mind that. The bigger realization was that I was at a crossroads in my life. I knew that if I didn’t write that novel, I would never write any novel. I’ve never had fate grip me like that. I had always wanted to write a novel. I was in the presence of a decision that would determine my own trust of self to make good on all the “I wish this and I wish that and only if”. You been there? Yep.
I had to feel it: my personal gifts, longings, and livingness. And frankly, not serving others at my expense. This skill, this desire to tell a story was singularly mine. Sacrificing our true nature is what kills a mermaid or a unicorn.
I learned a lot in writing Kelda’s Prophecy. Its story is much layered and was tricky in editing that took, ohhh, about 18 yrs to complete. I learned that the novel didn’t write itself. I had to do that. I also experienced the ecstasy of writing the last sentence in the story. The perseverance and sense of accomplishment was indescribable. Not surprising, I knew that since I completed that novel, I could do it again.
You need only to do something once to show yourself that you can do it again. Trust me on this. I took a leap of faith in myself like my mermaid did and found what delights my heart.
I’ve published my later novels. Now, my mermaid story is coming into the light of day. So happy. I know you mermaids are out there. This story is for you.