When the Fair Folk, the Fae, the Fairies, showed up in the manuscript for Factory Girl, my first impulse was to shoo them away. I had an idea of what the story was about, especially since it is based in part on an actual life.
But the magic of the Fae will not be denied. As with other stories I have written, the story that wants to be told will stomp its feet and hold its breath until I pay attention. Woe be to me when I do not!
As I have finally surrendered to this development, I have moved beyond researching Scottish folk tales and into the play of it. I ordered fairy houses and other delights for my new garden. I am enjoying The Faerie Handbook: An Enchanting Compendium of Literature, Lore, Art, Recipes, and Projects by the editors of Faerie Magazine (now called Enchanted Living). Yes, there is a magazine! Who knew? I’m also reading Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, filled with art and essays about the Fair Folk.
These new activities are activating something unusual in my ordinarily serious nature: delight. At 60, it appears I am finally reclaiming the joy of childhood.
Yesterday I added some text to Factory Girl where Jane sprouts wings for the first time. It was an extraordinary moment for me. Jane’s life is filled with challenges, and Factory Girl takes a hard look at life in industrial 19th-century Scotland. The magic of Factory Girl does not diminish the harsh realities or even make them easier to bear. Rather, it is about the curious thing that happens in our lives when great sorrow and great joy coexist side by side with each other.
Delight is not about ignoring the suffering of the world. It is about finding that which is beautiful so ugliness does not consume us. It is about finding joy that resides within us even when life is hard. It appears I still have much to learn from the Fae. I’m so looking forward to share with you what they are sharing with me!