As many of you know, I live in British Columbia, Canada. A few days before Christmas, I had commented to my aunt and uncle (who see eagles daily in Haida Gwaii) that I hadn’t seen an eagle for months in Nanaimo. Then, on Christmas Eve, one landed atop a nearby tree. I stood outside watching it for several minutes. To me, in light of the trying circumstances of 2020, the eagle’s reappearance after an extended absence in my life represented an inspirational omen: return and renewal.
News From Council Dimension has necessarily been on hold since March 2020 — my time having been diverted to prepare and teach online classes. As the weeks and months passed, the stress of 2020 moved me further and further away from activities that used to calm me: writing, reading, beading, puzzles. Consequently, after the second of two 2020 surgeries, I spent my downtime playing Animal Crossing — a hobby introduced to me by my friend Tami. By the end of the year, I had logged hundreds of hours building an elaborate new world.
My Animal Crossing character is named Cedar. My island is named Genevre. Both Cedar and Genevre are major characters in my most recent Alchemists’ Council book: The Amber Garden. Gradually but inevitably, my creative endeavour of building a new world in Animal Crossing became replete with elements drawn from my previously imagined world of Council dimension. Notably, both Animal Crossing and Alchemists’ Council became abbreviated as “AC” in texts sent to me by friends, one of whom is my primary editor. Thus, many a message in 2020 led to my momentary confusion: “AC today?” Perhaps my new world was a twist on the old.
If you’ve read The Amber Garden, you know its premise: the dimensions are disintegrating due to the equivalent of an alchemical plague, culminating in 2020. Yes, the choice of ending the trilogy in 2020 was intentional given that I knew the book would be published in 2020. But I had submitted the original manuscript in 2018 and, thereafter, spent a year on various editing stages. The Advance Reading Copy was printed in Fall 2019. In other words, the parallel between the plague of 2020 within Council dimension and that in our own world is a mere coincidence — or so most alchemists would have you believe. Certain Novillian Scribes, on the other hand, would claim that the synchronicities had been foretold within Lapidarian prophecies.
If you play Animal Crossing, you may already have been graced with the opportunity to attain a fragment of the Lapis — or, as outside world manuscripts call it, the Philosopher’s Stone (as pictured here with Cedar in the Highland Ritual Grove on the Isle of Genevre). Granted, you may have passed on that rare opportunity, choosing instead to await an authentic “Informative Statue.” Like all members of the Alchemists Council, only those players destined to become alchemists would have recognized the truth within the apparent forgery. “All that glitters…,” as Cedar or Ruis would have responded back in the day.
Rest assured, if you are destined for alchemical change, other opportunities will present themselves. Potentially, if you follow your AC dream to Genevre, alchemical secrets may be revealed to you within the sparkling remnants of the Amber Garden. (Masks, by the way, are optional but encouraged, especially for those whose blood has not yet been fortified by Lapidarian Elixir.) Alternatively, you could ask Scribe Cedar for a consultation with the Magistrates. If they deem you sufficiently dedicated to the Great Work of alchemy, they may invite you to attend a session or two at Genevre Elemental Magic School (aka GEMS).
As you may have guessed by this point, those hours playing the AC game with the AC series in mind led me not only through 2020 but also to an idea for my new book series — GEMS: Oceanic Division. Indeed, thanks to my game-play inspiration, virtual alchemical world building, and a new keyboard, I have again begun to write.
With this bee-themed, glow-in-the-dark keyboard (gifted to me recently by Tami and Johnny), I have written both this blog post and the first few lines of GEMS. As with any opening of a new manuscript, these initial words may change; indeed, the repetition of “different” already calls for alteration. But at least a few words now exist on the virtual page. And, as such, they offer a new beginning to Council dimension’s ancient world.
With these opening lines recorded, I have found faith in the alchemical Initiates of Genevre Elemental Magic School. Rest assured, both ancient and novice scholars will work diligently at GEMS as they search for a means to rebuild the world — the world that (literally on occasion) crushed their ancestors in 2020. And if they prove unable to “save the world” (as the expression goes), they will work together to construct a new one.
Speaking of dedicated scholars, I must express gratitude to my IRL students from Fall 2020 who excelled beyond measure. In particular, their final essays were utterly brilliant. Thus I will be heading into the new semester with fond memories of the extraordinary students from my first online classes: Mel and Hailey, Suki and Cassie, Elise and Anandita, Daniel and Isaiah, Jeffrey and Mike, Sarima, and Ziera, Jeremy, Emily, Taylor, Hanna, Ashley, Stefania, Naman, and so many others. These students come to mind as I write this blog post because of their enthusiastic determination. During a semester cloaked in the shadow of Covid, these young scholars renewed my faith that world can indeed be renewed through creative ingenuity.
If Spring 2021 is anything like Fall 2020, I likely won’t have time to blog again for several months. Nonetheless, between now and the end of term, I hope to write at least a bit more of GEMS, a project on which I will report back to you in the summer. Until then, take care, stay safe, read what you like, and build what inspires you.
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