In the next in her Someone Else’s Writing series, Rebecca talked to esoteric non-fiction writer Peregrin Wildoak.
Peregrin, could you tell us a little bit about your writing? What made you decide to become a writer? How would you describe your work?
My published writing is mainly non-fictional, focusing on the western esoteric and Pagan traditions of magic and Wicca. I do write fiction, and a little poetry, privately.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer – just the idea – and I enjoyed and excelled in it at school. I’ve done it ever since but have never developed my craft or discipline enough to produce quality fiction writing or poetry. This writing is just for myself at present. 🙂
I do craft and refine my non-fiction, hopefully enough to convey my ideas and information in a pleasing and engaging fashion.
I chose to write the book I did, and become a published writer, because there was a glaring need for it – there was a gap in the available knowledge which I experienced as a young man, and I did not want anyone else to experience. So, I learnt and developed my skills for many years before even thinking of starting on a writing project, though the intention was always there. The motivation for sharing the knowledge, to fill the gap, was strong enough to help me find the discipline to write and craft my book. If I had the same motivation for my fiction and poetry I would (hopefully) be published in those genres as well. My partner is a published and awarded novelist and poet and I have learnt much from her and her writing community.
My writing centres on the inner dimensions of life. Writers, artists and poets know exactly what I mean when I talk about this, but the esoteric traditions work with the concept as an objective, as well as a subjective reality. So my work is about how our inner, subjective worlds are influenced by and also inform the greater inner world of the spirit – spirit of time, spirit of place, spirit of country and spirit of people. The importance of this inner dimension seems to me more and more crucial as our western culture develops the cult of the outer, the appearance and the superficial to a greater and greater degree.
How do you think non-fiction writing differs from fiction? Is the writing process very different in your experience?
For me my non-fiction writing comes from an imaginary engagement with …’someone’… where I am mulling over and refining topics and interests, ideas and perhaps criticisms of already published material. This is largely conceptual and few inner words are involved. This process goes on in my head a lot, and sometimes a theme emerges that gets more and more refined until it needs to be expressed. So by the time I come to write, I am really just putting down concretely in words the concepts already bouncing around in my skull.
So – my non-fiction comes from an inner engagement, which is different to my fictional prose, where I normally come across a character of some sort in my mind. As I explore the character, I become aware of them more deeply and a narrative, or several, will often emerge. Not always…sometimes there will be just this idea of a character in my mind. So my fictional work is a way of allowing these characters and narratives to have an expression. This leads to a weakness in my prose in that there is mostly one main character and the rest are sometimes shallow or props.
How does writing fit in with your personal life? Do you struggle to find the time to write and how do you overcome that?
I write all the time, so it has become just a part of my life. It is hard to find the time when my life, work and family get busy. The thing is though I am really blessed. I work a thirty eight hour week and can provide all we need. I am not ‘down the pit’ for twelve hours a day, filling my lungs with toxins, which is more or less the case with the majority of the world’s workers in some manner or other.
I guess I overcome time limitations by choices and spiritual practice, which blesses me with energy and verve. We’ve been in our present house for five years now and I still haven’t hooked up the TV antenna. I watch very little video, know bugger all about the latest…whatever… and only become aware of the local football or cricket when it interferes with normal train services. This becomes a little bit of a problem when socialising with folk outside my regular circle 🙂
Are there any other writers who you really admire? What was the last thing you read and would you recommend it?
The fiction I like often interweaves deep themes and ideas. An author I constantly re-read is Julian May; her Galactic Milieu series has such depth amongst the storylines I am always amazed. My favourite non-fiction writer is the late Robert Anton Wilson – his work stretches the mind over and over. Poetry – I am still in love with the work of Eliot, Mary Oliver and my partner, Morgan Yasbincek.
The last book I read was a young adult novel, Losing It by Australian author, Julia Lawrinson. It’s a brilliant coming of age novel centred on a group of self-empowered young women who embrace their awakening sexuality on their own terms. It’s definitely recommended.
Finally, do you have any hints and tips for other aspiring writers?
Just two, and both tips go together. Firstly, write often and with passion. It doesn’t matter if it’s crap, the act of regular (daily) writing opens us up as writers and communicators, and including passion keeps you and the writing alive. The second point I picked up as a teenager reading Kurt Vonnegut – to craft and ruthlessly edit our writing, examining each line, each word and asking ‘what does this add?’ – if it adds nothing, it goes!