From The Fishbowl

Scribbles about stuff

Beyond

I wrote in an earlier post about a couple of dreams I’d had. That was partly inspired by the fact that I’d recently been reading The Sandman collection graphic novels by Neil Gaiman. Since then, I’ve been (very slowly) reading his prose novel American Gods. Which is really good. And it’s inspired me to write something else. Which is neat.

Today I’m going to blog about God.

Now, I did this before, on one of my old blogs. It’s around in cyberspace somewhere, but it’s such a huge part of my life as a writer that it’s probably beneficial to write something similar.

I want to begin by giving you my personal views on the subject. Let me start by saying that I’m not religious. I do not go to any kind of church or place of worship, I have no intention of doing so either. But if you do, well, knock yourself out. I ain’t gonna stop you.

But just because I’m not ‘religious’ doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in God. Which I do. Sort of. I believe that there’s something else, that there’s more than just this physical realm. I can’t say for sure quite why I feel that way, it’s just an instinct. Maybe whatever it was had a hand in the universe’s creation and just left us alone. Maybe it genuinely does have a hand in the everyday life of every man, woman and child on Earth. I don’t know. But I do think there’s something. I like to think there’s an afterlife as well, if only because the alternative – that these 80-odd years are all there is and once you’re done, you’re done – is terrifying to me. Like, possibly-my-biggest-fear level of terrifying. Well, either that or heights.

As I’ve said, I don’t attend church or consider myself religious. But I use religion as the basis of stories very regularly. It’s not really on purpose, but characters in my writing often tend to be religious, or at least bear sort of relationship to religious myths. Angels and demons often show up, and more often than not the main character has some kind of messianic significance. It’s all very cliché, of course, but that’s just how I tend to lean.

But American Gods has made me look into branching out a bit. The majority of the religious subtext that I infuse – if it’s there at all, of course – is Christianity-based. I guess that’s just because of the culture I’ve grown up in. Despite what the Daily Mail might say, Christianity is still a huge part of British culture, even if certain events are getting more and more secular by the year. (Tesco selling Easter eggs on Christmas Eve being a prime example.) We still perform Nativity plays at Christmastime, we still have Songs of Praise on a Sunday evening and we still have churches within easy reach of our front doors. We’re taught Christian mythology at school, whether we want to hear it or not, and religious symbols are all over the place. It’s what we know most about – hence it transpires into writing.

But there are so many other religions out there. Of course, there are mainstream ones – Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Scientology (lol) – but there are so many littler ones as well, that are either still going or have been banished to the depths of time. I find that scenario incredibly interesting. Who says that any of the religions going today have any more merit than the ones that have now gone? Do we have any right to think that Jesus as an icon is more important and will live in the world’s collective mind for longer than Odin? Or Horus? Or Heracles? Or Anansi? I could go on. All of these gods were once incredibly important to the people who worshipped them.

Why am I bringing all this up? Well, a couple of the stories in Not Quite Normal have a minor, ancient god in them. Call it branching out, but I’m doing my research and trying to make him noticed again. Or at least bring him to a few modern people. I’m going to be a tease now and not say what he’s called, but I promise you that he is/was real. You’ll be able to look online and in books (and even in real world places). And I really like him. Really like him. So much that I want to create many more tales featuring him. Just taking a step or two off the beaten track might have led me to an even greater path.

He’ll be featured in the final Not Quite Normal preview, which will be live in a couple of weeks. I’ll undoubtedly be back before then. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

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