Sunday, September 20, 2009


In 1997, I fulfilled a dream and released a CD of my songs called How Many Lifetimes?  Despite the fact that I've spent the past three decades as a professional writer of fantasy stories, I was making my living—such as it was—as a musician, singer and songwriter first.  Music touches a space in me, sacred and magical, that few things can and recording How Many Lifetimes? was one of the single most satisfying creative experiences of my life.  

Writing stories is a bit more problematic.  As Oscar Madison—quoting Dorothy Parker—sagely observed, "I hate writing; I love having written."  I suspect Parker was exaggerating to make a point.  I
 certainly don’t hate writing (well, most days I don’t):  there are times when I catch a story wave—or, more likely, the wave catches me—and storytelling becomes a blissful act of channeling.  Something deeper, truer and higher enters through the doors of my unconscious and won't let go until I've given it expression.  (For instance, I'm convinced that Abadazad truly exists and that I was simply chosen to write about it by the inhabitants of that extraordinary world.  Writing those stories often felt like taking other-dimensional dictation.)  I live for those moments of grace and, as the years pass, that door seems to open more and more easily.  That doesn't change the fact that writing sometimes feels less like bliss and more like wrestling a demon into submission.  It’s when the story is done, and done well, that I feel a profound satisfaction and, more, grateful amazement at what’s been created.  (Let's not talk about the times when the stories suck.)

In music, the act is the reward.  It’s all about the Now.  Writing songs is rarely an effort for me—in fact, when effort rears its head, the song is usually dead.  And singing is all about connecting to Who I Really Am (as opposed to Who I Think I Am.  No wonder Meher Baba called it the highest path to God).  Of course it's possible—maybe likely—that music brings me such unique joy because it's not what I do for a living. Perhaps if one of those bands I was in had hit it big and I'd spent the past thirty years in the studio and on the road I'd be telling you how wonderful it is when I write stories and what a herculean task songwriting and performing are.

Let me be clear:  I love what I do for a living.  About ten years ago I seriously entertained the idea of walking away from writing and taking up a new career.  After time and thought, meditation and prayer, it became very clear to me that writing isn't something I do, it's who I am.  I'm a storyteller. 
 I see the entire Creation as one unfolding fairy tale and I'm lucky enough to be a character in that tale, adding some new universes to the mix.  Really, who could ask for anything more?

But I can't help thinking that somewhere, on some parallel Earth, I’m in a recording studio, working on my twentieth album.

And blogging about it.

©copyright 2009  J.M. DeMatteis


  1. Synchronicity reigns: Just this morning, I awoke with my headloop stuck sampling the phrase "Dreams come true and miracles happen"... Yes, indeed!

    The seemingly channeled nature of great ideas of any kind is a fascination of mine, and your "one unfolding fairy tale" description is a great image.

    In PROMETHEUS RISING, Robert Anton Wilson wrote "Intelligence is the capacity to receive, decode, and transmit information efficiently. Studpidity is blockage of this process at any point."

    This quote soothes my conscience when I label as Stupidity that which seemes to block ABADAZAD's transmission phase.

  2. The blockage of "ABADAZAD's tranmission phase" has caused me no end of sorrow, Tim; and yet my upcoming book, IMAGINALIS, is a direct result of that blockage (I'll be writing about that in more detail soon)...which means, in a way, it's a continuation of the same transmission. That doesn't mean I've given up on ABADAZAD's return in its original form. As you noted: "Dreams come true and miracles happen."

    Thanks for another Cosmic Reminder!

  3. Your Zen profundity never ceases to amaze me, Mitch.

  4. I google you to find you. I have been reading the Abadazad series, but I haven't been able to find Historcery, the last book in the series. Myself and several of my students are anxious to read the final book. Please e-mail me at to let me know how and where I can get the book. I really would appreciate it. I just love the series!

  5. I'm sad to say, Natalie, that Historcery is not coming out. The publisher pulled the plug on the Abadazad series after the third book. Historcery was actually written—but the manuscript now lives only in limbo (and on my computer).

    I have a new book coming out next year called Imaginalis. It's very much in the spirit of Abadazad. I think it's something that you, and your students, will enjoy. All the best -- JMD

  6. So happy to have found you, the hippie uncle we never had. WE make both songs and stories and I work 40 hours @ week, too, and it all seems too dear to shove anything completely aside. I think the main thing is, don't tell the Muse no too often and thank you very much. Lue stole a dollar in change from a junior church collection plate (once only) to find you, writing about the Devil (Slayer!---teamed with Spidey). He continues to thank the Divine for that long ago selfish prompting.

  7. "The hippie uncle we never had"? I like that, Marc. And thanks for tracking me down here, in my small corner of cyberspace.

    I remember that Devil-Slayer team-up (very early in my career, when I still had a LOT to learn as a writer). It was a pretty weird one, as I recall.

    All the best -- JMD