Silk and Shadows is delighted to have Shereen Vedam as our guest. Her stories are magical, whimsical, and always surprising … prepare yourself to be delighted when you pick up her books. We’re fortunate to have her here introducing her latest short work.
Please help us make her welcome! There’s a free copy available of The Misspelled Charm for someone who comments.
First, I’d like to thank Silk and Shadows for inviting me. Their invitation ties in nicely with my topic – Belonging – and my latest fantasy short story release, The Misspelled Charm. Both are about finding that special place where one fits in, will be accepted, where someone says, come in, please.
People are social creatures and we understand that need to belong, be it at work or socially, within our family or with friends. Yet, belonging, being accepted, being invited even, isn’t easy and doesn’t happen on command.
That’s the reason why there are loners in school, people willing to partake in college fraternity hazing, and at work, if you can’t get along, you can’t get ahead. As for paranormal stories, isn’t wanting to belong at the heart of many?
So, how can we fit in, be accepted, get along? And should we even want to?
Abraham Maslow’s answer to that last question would likely have been a resounding, yes!
“When people appear to be something other than good and decent, it is only because they are reacting to stress, pain, or the deprivation of basic human needs such as security, love, and self-esteem.”
Maslow hypothesized that before we can become self-actualized (i.e. act unselfishly, be creative, problem solve and shed prejudices), we must first master 4 basic human needs.
He saw these 4 basic human needs as being arranged in hierarchical order. A pyramid, if you will. As with any climbing exercise, we must first feel secure on the first step, before we attempt the next one.
Maslow saw the first human need as Physiological – the need for air, water, food, sex and sleep. Yup, sex is right there as one of the first basic human needs. Who’d have guessed? Well, maybe romance readers.
Master this first need and the second one extends its lure, whispering, look what’s up here. This second need is for Safety. For our self, our loved ones, our health and property.
The third need for Love and Belonging.
“Lack of interactions, human relationships and the sense of belonging may result in depression or loneliness while an abundance of love and community often sustain people through difficult times.”
Where does that leave that loner in school? The college freshman talked into a dangerous hazing ritual? The awkward colleague overlooked for promotion, again.
Or, as in The Misspelled Charm, a witch who can take a lover for a night but not for a lifetime. Because, within her society, witches are tolerated, not accepted.
Witches don’t belong.
How can we conquer the challenges of this troublesome third need in order to reach for that much-valued fourth need for Self-esteem – where we grow confident, respect others and, in turn, are respected?
And if we can’t get past these four basic needs, will we ever achieve that top tier on Maslow’s pyramid, and become Self-actualized? Where we learn to respect those with whom we don’t get along? Where we wallow in divine creativity? Where we problem-solve our way to a success life?
I believe Maslow’s third basic need for love/ belonging is a crucial one in our journey to self-actualization. Better yet, it’s a step that everyone in society can help each other to master. Because belonging often begins with an invitation. An open door. A, “Come in, please.” Making that offer is a great way for us to give someone else a hand up Maslow’s pyramid.
In The Misspelled Charm, I explore this theme of belonging with a witch who finds the courage to reach for her place within her society and win the love of a man who is out to break any magical hold she might have on him.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Stripping off his tunic and boots, he rolled up his trews and set to washing.
Kord looked up, cool water running in streams along his hot, flushed cheeks.
A man in a brown robe cinched at the waist waved to him from across the street.
“Morning,” Kord replied in a gruff voice, not wanting to encourage conversation. The last thing he needed was to be questioned on why he came out of a witch’s house in the early morning hours.
Villagers tended to be wary of strangers, but even more so of people who associated with witches. Men had been stoned for bedding one, because it was said that a child of such a union was often malformed or cursed. He shrugged back into his tunic and avoided eye contact.
“Are you a friend of Charmaine’s?”
“No.” His feet were as clean as they were ever likely to get, so he sat on the ledge and rolled down his trews and put his boots back on.
“Who are you then?”
Kord pretended not to hear the prying question and headed to Charmaine’s house. He glanced back and discovered five people gathered across the road. Neighbors sensing gossip, or danger. He relented, wanting to allay fears. “I’m Kord from Camden. I’ve business with her.”
“Oh,” a woman said with a warm smile. “Good. She needs the custom, poor thing.”
About to retreat, that comment made him pause and face his interrogators. The woman had sounded as if she cared about the witch’s well-being.
“You’ve known her long?” he asked.
“All my life. We were schooled together.”
Witches went to school in Ponce? He had never heard of such a thing. Before you knew it, the University of Edensa would take one on for higher studies. The absurd notion made him chuckle.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this intriguing subject of belonging. There’s a free copy available of The Misspelled Charm for someone who comments.
The Misspelled Charm is also available at The Wild Rose Press or from other ebookstores (links to bookstores, reviews and another short excerpt are available on my website: www.shereenvedam.com).
If you purchase/read this fantasy romance short story, I (on behalf of Justin, the heroine’s familiar) would be very grateful if you would take the time to write an honest review at GoodReads, Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble. What can I say? Justin’s a bit of an attention hog. He’s definitely reached the self-actualization stage.