The Problem With Witches

Once upon a time, we knew what to do when we saw someone behaving very strangely in public. If we saw someone talking to themselves, or moving strangely, or dressing strangely, we did the most practical, logical thing a person would. We did what anyone would do based upon years – no centuries – of accumulated common sense: we burned that person as a witch. After all, everyone knew there were witches. Just ask your neighbor. Are there witches? Yup. What do you do with witches? Burn em. So there you go. Because the last thing you want to do is live in a world with witches. They’re dangerous. They’ll put a hex on you for no reason other than that’s what witches do. Burning’s the only sensible thing to do.

Until someone asked a simple question: What if that person talking to herself isn’t a witch? Just supposing. If she is a witch, then sure, burn her, but if she isn’t a witch, and we do burn her, what are we doing? Shouldn’t we at least ask the question, “Is she a witch?”

Quite a dangerous question. After all, what would a witch want more than for someone to question her witch-ness? Wouldn’t a witch just love you to delay her burning long enough to cast as spell so she could escape? Is it even worth asking, this seemingly well intentioned question? In fact, isn’t it exactly the sort of question a witch might ask?

Yet there was an even more dangerous question. The more dangerous question would be: Is there even such a thing as a witch? After all, we all agree we would rather live in a world without witches. What if we already lived in that world? What would we do differently if there were no witches? How would we behave if we were already living in a world about which we regularly dream, but we persisted in believing did not exist?

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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