Writing a Spiritual Novel
It’s time to reveal my secret to a larger circle of friends — that is, whoever might be taking the time to read this blog. I’ve not told many folks about what I’ve been doing in my spare time lately, but I think it’s OK to say more about it now.
For the past two and a half years, I have been doing my best to complete an unusual assignment that Swami Kriyananda gave me: to write a novel which would be fun, exciting, interesting, and which might be able to give the teachings of our path to a wider-than-usual audience.
I’ve not completely finished writing the book yet, but I think it’s very close — close enough that I am now able to say that I actually think it might become a reality.
Here’s the story: I love to write. I’ve been doing it, off and on, all of my life. Ananda has offered me many opportunities to write short articles for various publications like Clarity Magazine. I’m one of the “Ask the Experts” on the main Ananda website; and I enjoy answering questions, especially those of a spiritual nature.
I’ve written three non-fiction books, one for Crystal Clarity Publishers, called Chakras for Starters and two which I self-publish, called The Chakras Workbook and The Meaning of Dreaming: Paramhansa Yogananda’s Teachings on Why We Dream and What Our Dreams Mean.
A few years ago, I wrote a short article called: How to Become a Spiritually Liberated Woman. Someone gave Swamiji a copy of it. After he read it, he had his secretary call me to tell me he wanted me to come over to his apartment at Crystal Hermitage “to talk about something.”
I’ll admit to experiencing much trepidation, because the honor and blessing of a private meeting with Swami Kriyananda has not happened to me many times over the 33 years I’ve lived at Ananda. What on earth did he want to say to me?
It was a brief meeting. He complimented me on the article, said he thought I was a good writer, and asked me what I thought about writing a novel? I truthfully said that I had thought about it for years, but the whole idea seemed so daunting, I had never really taken it seriously.
I agreed to put together an outline of what I had been thinking about and send it to him to see what he thought.
My ideas revolved around creating a sort of science fiction novel wherein a character or characters would be able to travel through time. In their travels they would experience lives in the different Yugas; and thus, the reader would learn more about what the Yugas are, according to Paramhansa Yogananda’s and Sri Yukteswar’s teachings on that fascinating subject. I could throw in ideas about karma and reincarnation and perhaps even a bit about the benefits of meditation.
So I sent Swamiji a broad outline. He immediately e-mailed me back saying: “I like these ideas. You have my blessings! Send me some chapters when you have written them.” Wow!
Then I began to get really scared. “Can I really do this?” I wondered. I think I can write fairly well, and I do love to write. I also love to read — I admit it. I read much more than a yogi probably should, especially novels. And I truly love reading well-written science fiction novels. But I’ve never even come close to attempting something as complex as writing a whole novel!
There’s plot and dialogue and place descriptions and on and on. Do I know how to do this? Not really! Perhaps I should take a novel-writing course? I rejected that idea pretty quickly, due to no time to do it. And regarding time (the theme of the novel, ha-ha!) when would I find the time to actually write something as long and complex as this?
Well, Swamiji told me to do it and even blessed me! So I figured I’d better get started.
Many adventures awaited me, to say the least. I’ve been elated when the book was going well, and really ready to stop the project entirely when it wasn’t. I’ve had weeks, even months, at a time when I couldn’t work on it at all.
Sometimes the characters, especially the main ones, seemed to come alive and “tell me” what to write, what they wanted to “say” and how they could say it best. The plot has taken twists and turns that I would not have predicted at all! These were the fun times.
I sent the first 15 chapters to Swamiji a year after I started. He sent me word that he liked it and to keep going.
I sent the next 15 chapters to Swamiji two years later. He told me, in person that “… it needs a lot of work, Savitri. See if you can get Anandi (one of our best writers and editors here at Ananda Village) to help you with it.” This she has done, and will do much more of, I hope, when I feel well and truly finished.
I’ve prayed deeply to be guided through this labyrinth. I came very close to stopping altogether when Swamiji wrote The Time Tunnel.
By the way, I love that book! If you haven’t read it, you should, soon. But guess what? It’s a science fiction book for young people about time travel through the Yugas. I figured he’d gotten tired of my being such a slow writer and decided to do it himself. He whips books out in record time, and here I’d been slogging away on the same one for almost two years!
So I asked him if, because of The Time Tunnel, that I should stop writing this novel with a somewhat similar plot (hoping he’d say yes). His answer: “There can’t be too many of this sort of book on the market! Keep going!”
So here I am now, February, 311 Dwapara Yuga. The title of the novel, which Swamiji approved, is Through Many Lives: A Tale of Time Travel Through the Yugas.
I’ve written 36 chapters (close to 43,000 words). Yesterday I wrote the conclusion. I still have to write an introduction which carefully, but not boringly, explains what a “Yuga” is, so that those who don’t know can get past that hurdle.
My husband Sudarshan, who is an excellent writer and very discriminating reader himself, read all that I had completed last summer, and said he liked it. (Whew!) Anandi called it “a page-turner.” I am encouraged!
So that’s my story for now and I’m sticking to it. Thanks for reading this blog and let me know what you think.