Writing a novel can take years. The Witches of New York took five. Along the way, I learned a lot of things about the world and those around me, and above all, myself.
One of the biggest revelations that came to me while writing this novel was the realization that magic is everywhere. And the more you’re open to it, the more it will present itself to you in ways large and small.
In August, I was given the wonderful opportunity to share a night of storytelling at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts. I was supposed to meet my audience around a campfire (which would’ve been lovely,) but due to a terribly dry summer in Nova Scotia and a fire ban, we had to hold the event inside. (Which turned out to be magical in and of itself.)
In the candlelit hold of an old hay barn that’s now a dance studio, I moved around a circle of eager listeners and spoke of witches past and present. By my side was Ella, my “witch’s apprentice” for the evening, who was an amazing companion— enchanting, witty and bright.
Before the audience was ushered in and the event began, we shared a few minutes of conversation between the candles and a magic cauldron. We spoke of witches and magic and fairies (all of which Ella assured me are real.) We spoke of stories and song and what can be seen when we “look close.” During my chat with Ella, I realized what lay at the heart of this novel—a firm belief that every girl and woman has a bit of “witch” inside, and that it’s up to us to “look close” so we can help each other find it.
After that night, I kept thinking about that conversation and how over the years I’ve received a heck of a lot of fabulous advice from my “sister witches.” With that in mind, I issued the following invitation to several wise women I know:
“I believe every woman has a bit of witch in her (or perhaps quite a lot.) Some of us tap into our witchiness early on, others are late bloomers. Some find it, then forget it, then discover it again when we get our second witchy wind.
This is a call to all you wise women, you agitators, you social mavens, you champions of thought…you astute observers, you creative crones, you laughing goddesses, you quiet seers, you kindly healers, you keepers of the land, you makers of wonder, you devoted wordsmiths, you bakers of kick-ass cookies, you believers in MAGIC.
I want to know…what advice would you give to a “new witch?” It could be advice you’d give to your younger self…or to a sister in need of support…or to a friend who needs a swift kick in the rear…or to a woman who is standing at the edge of something really great and needs to know someone has her back.
You can speak it, rap it, sing it, draw it, dance it, write it. You can go it alone or with a friend. It can be serious, sweet, cheeky or fierce, so long as it’s from the heart.
So grab your camera and give it to me straight…What is Your Advice for a New Witch?
Here is a montage of the first batch of responses I received. (Many thanks to Lindsey Reeder at Penguin Random House Canada for putting them all together!)
In the coming days I’ll be sharing each woman’s full advice video through social media, along with the hashtag #AdviceForWitches
Feel free to film your own advice to share with others using the hashtag. I’ll put it on the Advice for New Witches YouTube channel playlist as well. My hope is that this will be an ongoing project with a playlist that’s miles long!