“One day the UPS man pulled up and gave me this box … and I was trying to think, ‘What did I order?’ But it was a dozen books!” This is how Susan Pesznecker, adjunct instructor in the Portland State English Department, received the official printed copies of her book, Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink: Learn to Write Stories, Spells and Other Magickal Works.
Perfecting the magickal craft
“One day the UPS man pulled up and gave me this box … and I was trying to think, ‘What did I order?’ But it was a dozen books!”
This is how Susan Pesznecker, adjunct instructor in the Portland State English Department, received the official printed copies of her book, Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink: Learn to Write Stories, Spells and Other Magickal Works.
Crafting Magick explores writing basics and is aimed at the Pagan community.
“The act of reading and writing and sharing information, not only for enjoyment and communication, but teaching, has become really important to the Pagan community, which encompasses a whole umbrella of different beliefs,” Pesznecker said.
This is not Pesznecker’s first published work. As a research nurse, she published in the medical field. In addition, she has published a lot of creative nonfiction.
Despite the book’s title, Pesznecker claims that it will even apply to those who are not interested in writing spells or other magical things.
“The way it’s written, it’s really for anybody,” said Pesznecker, who teaches part time at both Portland State and Clackamas Community College. “If you boiled it down to its essence, the idea is by writing, by a journal or whatever you’re doing you can kind of tap into an inner spirituality.”
She believes writing can develop one’s “spiritual awareness,” no matter what their personal beliefs may be.
Pesznecker used the idea for Crafting Magick as her Master of Arts thesis at Portland State, but the process of writing the final version of the book was a whirlwind and took approximately 10 months. She made use of her “trusty Macintosh” laptop and a comfortable home office outside of Portland.
The 264-page book is overflowing with exercises, tips, tricks and inspirational ideas. And thus far she said the book has been very well received.
“I’ve had a lot of people e-mail me, and people have ‘friended’ me on Facebook … so yeah, the feedback’s been really good. People like the book, and they think it’s really good,” Pesznecker said.
Outside of writing, Pesznecker also has interests within the realm of publishing.
“One of the really interesting things today is the whole digital self-publishing,” Pesznecker said. “I think everything we’ve always thought traditionally about publishing has really changed … you know with the Kindle … I mean you could write a book, publish it yourself and sell it … and do really well.”
She has noticed a lot of people rethinking whether or not they need to go the traditional route when publishing. Pesznecker notes it will most likely all start changing.
“I think there are a lot of great books that are being free-published, and I think there are a lot of really bad books that are being published by big companies—that’s just life,” Pesznecker said. “The idea of who owns knowledge, all of that is going to change.”
Pesznecker already has plans in the works for another book. In the meantime, she has a puppy and loves to garden, but mostly finds herself busy teaching.
Daily Vanguard: Tell me a little about the book. What is it about?
Susan Pesznecker: The book has two different focuses. One is it’s a basic course in composition. And then the second thing is it’s aimed specifically at the earth-based spirituality, and the reason for that is it’s a community that is even more now coming into its own—coming out of the closet so to speak.
The target audience is people in this community that want to learn how to write everything from rituals, to stories, to teaching materials, to articles.
DV: How did the idea for this book come about?
SP: It occurred to me: I’m an English teacher, and I kind of got to thinking about it, here’s this group of people that I know very well, that are just thirsting.
So I pitched the idea and Llewellyn [the publishing company] said, “Well, yeah, you know, you’re right.”
At the time I pitched the idea I was getting ready to write my thesis for my Master of Arts here. I was still a student in the nonfiction department.
So I actually wrote the first draft of this as my thesis. Because for the nonfiction M.A. program, I have to write a book, that’s how you get out.
In order to pass the requirements of the nonfiction program, it had to lean a little further over to writing and the actual dogma. I had to add a little bit of magic for Llewellyn, because it was a little more academic than they wanted.
So it’s the same book, just with a little sort of sprinkle.
DV: What was the writing process like for you?
SP: First of all, hard.
There’s this romantic notion of writing a book, and it’s way worse than you imagine. You start and you revise, you put it aside, and you take it out and look at it, change it again, because you keep wanting to work with it, like a piece of clay.
Especially as a graduate student, and I was a graduate assistant, so I was also teaching, and I was in two M.A. programs. I was taking a double class load and teaching, and it was insane, and I really had no life for about a year and a half.
But I mean the process—it’s not all bad. It’s a great process. It’s exciting. But anyone who has this romantic notion of writing a book is definitely in for a wake-up call.
In addition to writing, the process of getting everything published is hard. It took almost another year from when everything was final. The book actually came out on April Fools’ Day, which I really liked.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.