Youngblood Blog

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Under the Wire: November Writing Retreat, Celtic New Year’s style

Insecure Writers’ Support Group [IWSG] Corner

November 5th 2014 weather anomaly Eastern/Central U.S. CA basks in eternal sunshine, map ©NOAA

November 5th 2014 weather anomaly Eastern/Central U.S. CA basks in eternal sunshine, map
©NOAA

Many times this eventful year, I have longed for time/space to write—at least a few lines at my leisure—within my comfort zone. Events have a way of redirecting our otherwise good intentions, don’t they?

So far, 2014 has been short on leisure.

November heralds Celtic New Year and I’m no farther forward than last Samhainn.

Astrochart for now: 11:11p.m. EDT 11/05/14 Saturn leads pack of Starhounds to Orion's chase

Astrochart for now: 11:11p.m. EDT 11/05/14 Saturn leads pack of Starhounds to Orion’s chase

And, now that fall is well and truly here, my writerly output—like my garden shed—is showing its leaks!

Driving our Engines into the Ground
It’s not that we writers aren’t driven to distraction by our need to put graphite to tree pulp; extract or express some primeval desire hidden in the God-given Word; even one in our own God-driven engine-mind. I have known a fellow scribe who went into catatonia for a fortnight—today we call it ‘withdrawal’ or ‘having a bad hair day’—because she couldn’t find her high school propelling pencil.

Like losing a cell phone or iPod, our sudden disconnection fuels our dependency.

Change of season usually alters our work pattern, anyway. Deep inside, we must be akin to swallows, electromagnetically programmed to changing home base. Bureaucratic daylight manipulation makes it worse: disturbs our brain and sleep patterns, resulting in near-writer’s block.

Heaven forbid. I hope my mind hasn’t also flown the coop, along with my summer projects.

All Fall In

Rainstorms bring water, turn grass green again

Rainstorms bring water, turn grass green again

If I’m honest, this is the time when I sometimes admit defeat, float around in ‘can’t cope’ mode for a day or two with the change in weather, or, paradoxically, don ‘wellies’ (Wellington boots, rain gear), grab a pair of lethal secateurs and get forceful with a blackberry root.

Needless to say, I’ve found the culprit: something I can blame. It’s easier to point a finger at retrograde Neptune, floundering in his own exalted sign of Pisces, or beg deathstar Pluto to release his vice-like grip on his fellow planet, Mars conjunct in restrictive structure-driven Capricorn! The ancient SeaGoat rises from the waters to vanquish all malingerers…

Under the Wire
We are, I do believe, supremely grateful for excess H20 which fell from the heavens just in time to save us from a fiery death by 2014 heatwave. Water saved us from our (continuing) careless treatment of our planetary home.

It’s mot for me to criticize. William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle has shown us the way for a decade. We are still playing games with water. I merely add my comment—and gratitude. And pray that fewer hours of light may bring me time to relax, allow me to retreat into inner worlds.

And thanks Alex, as always, for doing what you do.
Dragon of the Stars, indeed. 🙂
©2014 Marian Youngblood

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November 6, 2014 Posted by | astrology, authors, culture, earth changes, environment, fantasy, gardening, nature | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Displacement Activity during NaNo month

FEATURED WRITERS CORNER

November is NaNo writing month

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by
– Douglas Adams

My last two blogs have featured talented — and busy — authors: the GuestBlog is such a boon when you’re feeling not quite writerly yourself.

Er, well, it’s not that I haven’t been writerly, I have. Just otherwise focused.

NaNo started on November 1st and won’t stop until November 30th and we’re not quite half way through the introductions yet. NaNo is when you abandon all hope of having a life, get up each day knowing you have an obligation to fulfill, fall into bed far too late into the wee hours because you know you won’t get a good night’s sleep otherwise, and generally find it difficult to communicate with your family — unless they’re on Facebook for a couple of minutes. Did I say eat? Whatever’s within reach. So long as it’s quick.

By now all leaf color is a leaf carpet

But November is also the month of Scorpio. That black and white personality, do or die, and if you die, don’t expect anyone to come and pick up the pieces — kind of month. Winter approaches. You can feel it in every breath. Watery autumnal sunlight, and where I live up here on the 57th parallel (cf Juneau, AK), light is gone from the day by 4p.m. Leaves are no longer pretending to cling to tree branches because most of the colorful ones are now carpeting the driveway. That kind of month. A time when one should be out there making the nest ready for hibernation through the next three months of dire weather and even direr temperatures.

And yet that’s the month a small group of writer-stroke-genius displacement activists chose to nurture the NaNo Bug.

Those of our critics who aren’t writers themselves say writing is ‘displacement activity’ from Life with a capital L. As a child, were we encouraged to write or were we encouraged to get an education which would slot us into a ‘good job’?

No displacement activity

Nevertheless I am writing. It’s what a writer is supposed to do.

NaNo was founded in 1999 by a looseknit group (I like the picture that conjures up, kind of like a quilting bee) of writerly types in San Francisco, CA. They chose to set aside the month of November — all 30 days of it — to create the bones of a novel. The ‘bones’ amounts to 50,000 words. Or writing a minimum of 1667 words every day. In order to nourish, challenge and encourage each other, certain perks, ‘gifts’, achievement stickers and carrots are used.

While the pain and self-immolation this exercise invokes might seem to be some people’s idea of lunacy, the Nano idea grew.

Gradually a body of supporters, themselves plunging into writerly waters for the marathon type-in, brought Nano fame. And purpose to November for writers. The month made the real world go away. Instead of the world of lethal freeze outside, your world turns inwards, into the novel or what the novel will become. You hand yourself over to an overlighting presence. You become just the fingers on the keyboard. The body on the bed.

NaNo’s acronym grew from the idea that November is now National Novel Writing Month and a website encourages the cotidien and foolhardy habit, suggesting you upload* a daily wordcount, so as to see your own (growing) stats and feel you are accomplishing something. There are free stickers and website widgets to egg you on, should you feel in need of a boost. And at the end of it, when you’ve passed the 50,000 word mark (some achieve 70,000-100,000. Hey, let’s not knock it), they proclaim you a Winner and you get a purple ‘winner’s’ accolade; plus the offer of a proof hardcopy of your book in print from Amazon’s CreateSpace.

But what happens to this human being who has committed her/himself to such a daily chore (sometimes a pleasure, sometimes a chore)? Does the Muse** visit every day and hold her/his hand through the ordeal?

Even if you don’t feel the Muse holding your hand every day, there are a couple of NaNo folks who do. They’ve taken on the volunteer job of keeping you at it. Been there, done that. They too, most of them, are sitting at their laptops in Peoria Illinois and Ashland Oregon and Walnut Creek California and (Rome, Madrid, London and Skye) pitching in again this November to finish writing their very own ‘new’ idea, plot, adventure, MS, WIP, exercise in writer’s-block-removal.

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him
– Ray Bradbury

At the end of the 30 days, if you drag yourself kicking and screaming to the keyboard every day, and create a piece of work, long or short — ignoring edits, spelling errors, lack of thought-flow; just get it out there — there’s one thing you’ll have achieved. A 50,000-word story. It may feel awful, scratchy, patchy, unformed or uninformed, and half the characters may have glaring holes in their back-stories, but it’s the bones of your next novel, your very own WIP — the Work in Progress that will make you feel a teensy bit achieving.

It may take another year before it becomes fit to print, but that’s not the point. During the process, and especially in the middle doldrums — Week Two Blues — it’s the vision of a completed task that draws you on when you tell yourself the last thing you want to do today is sit down and write a chapter about some silly characters that won’t talk to each other.

That’s part of the clever NaNo trick. They must have learned it from Jack Kerouac. He pasted sheets of copier paper top-and-tail together and fed the roll into a typewriter carriage, stocked up with coffee and ‘uppers’ and wrote ‘On the Road‘ in three weeks.

I’m not suggesting the ‘uppers’. Besides, NaNo ‘writing buddies’ are quite good at keeping you going if you flag. Or Facebook. Remember what they say: if your Subconscious has been alerted and informed by your Will that it has to regurgitate something every day in November, believe me, the Subconscious does.

And it sends in the Muse.

You may not like Her. You may not even be able to identify with Her, but at the end of 30 days, you will have Her staring you in the face, handing you a story. And when you really have something finished — I didn’t say polished: that comes after — you really feel you have to do something with it! Because it’s your WIP and it’s all yours.

They say writers are the least likely people to market their own wares. Isaac Asimov said:

Rejection slips, query and form letters, and synopses, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil, but there is no way around them.

2010 NaNo in progress

Which brings me back to Displacement Activity. What NaNo does for writers is just such a way around the roadblock that Asimov thought inevitable. It physically takes over space and time and allows the writerly urge to come through. Displacement activity is put aside to make way for words. That means life functions, regardless/oblivious of eating, drinking, sleeping, making love, shopping, paying bills or stoking fires — or any other life chore, for that matter — take a back seat, offering space for the writer and Muse to get to know one another all over again. And ideally during the process, all distractions, such as rejection slips, plotlines, query letter seminars, agent/ editor suggestions or even how the story’s going to end (along with cell phones) fall into the file drawer below the supply of tea/coffee, twinkies/cookies, cheese bits, and granola.

The rest of the world can criticize you for making writing your Displacement Activity from Life. But by the time you’re past Week Two, the halfway hurdle, and you find you’ve got a story going, your characters are coming alive, even if you’re not quite on the home stretch, you (hopefully) don’t believe your activity is displacement at all. You’ve found a new friend.

So why am I here writing this blog? Must be Nano Displacement Activity. Sorry, dear readers and fellow writers, I got to get back. My NaNo Muse is calling.

* An exciting widget until year 2010 was the wordcount widget. You copy & paste your daily output as input to the NaNo page and it counted the result for you and pasted the glorious total as part of your personal and site-wide stats. In 2010 this feature will only become available to site visitors after November 25th when the widget will be available to participants to ‘verify’ their (completed) output/MS/novel.
**Some days She does; some days She doesn’t.

Ed. As evidence of Marian’s supreme NaNo Displacement Activity, she wrote the following little Drabble for entry in the December Drabble contest over at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash.

NOLA HOLA

She’d worked hard – her beads sparkled in December sunshine. Farmers market always busy on weekends, the tomato and squash guy in the next stall said, selling his pumpkins for pennies. Mark ’em down low was his recipe for getting home early.

Freezing, only her second time, she gotta stay to cover costs. Don’t come back without a Franklin, or I break your arm, he’d said.

That weirdo, watching from a doorway since lunchtime, came over, handed her a 1000 dollar bill.
‘Cleveland cover it?’ he asked, picking up the jewel case.
Passport outta Dodge, she thought.
‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Thanks.’

©2010 Marian Youngblood
photo ‘Colourful beads’ by Natasha Ramarathnam
A Drabble is a story — a bullet, an idea, a character outline, a work of fiction that is exactly 100 words long: no more, no less.
December Drabble Theme at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash

November 13, 2010 Posted by | astrology, authors, culture, novel, seasonal, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Equinox Signals Powerful Changes

part of the Featured Writers’ Corner

powerful chart for September Equinox 2010

Equinox is a trying time: invigorating, yes. But it puts one on one’s mettle. After the heavy weight of responsibility placed on us earthlings over the summer — a second year in a row of inclement weather and battling the elements — we may be feeling a little ‘wabbit’. It’s a good old Anglo-Saxon term for feeling so buffeted by Life’s challenges that all you want to do is lie back and let someone else take the reins. Well, the Universe is taking them. So we might as well hang on because we’re in it for the Ride.

I wrote an Equinox blog on my other site about the changes, the current planetary alignments and influences, and the following came as a response from Rodney Fitzgerald.

As you know, here I’m promoting my writerly friends in this current series of GuestBlogs — see 18 Steps to Becoming a Writer — and Fitzy’s commentary is so great, so gentle with the vibration of the turning season, that it deserves a corner of its own. So, here goes, Fitzy — thank you. The first of what I hope will be a few guest blogs from you.

Vitality, vigour, joie de vivre…

Dante wrote in his inferno, Canto 1;
“Midway through the journey of our life, I found
myself in a dark wood, for I had strayed
from the straight pathway to this tangled ground.”

Here we find ourselves, in 2010, striding in the opposite direction, back up the twisting stair, to the Spring time of the soul.
Like the freeway, when you’re heading out of town and everyone is heading in, open road speeds now apply.

“Where are they going?” asks the kid in the back seat, all leather interior, only two hundred more repayments to go.
Silence from the harried parents, the city looming ahead filled with mortgages, cold envy and doubt, chills and terror at 3am.
The kid shrinks back into his seat, eats his Big Mac and imagines having super powers, as the green turns to grey and asphalt.
I have my foot down hard, there is nothing behind me, more compelling now than the open road, I look for the turn off…
..And the exit, is well lit.

Sidereal, you are right, Pluto is coughing up the dregs of his passing reign. That old Tyrant Holdfast is loosing his grip. The death rattle is terrible to behold.

The passing spirit of the fading epoch, does not go gently into that good night however, its mind of domination and cruelty is sold to the masses as entertainment in the form of the Vampyre drama. Novels, Films and TV shows run amock, selling dark desire to a well-groomed flock of children.

What the empty and fading dark wants most, is the energy it can never produce itself – the Divine spark. It does not hide now, it’s desperate. It sells the idea its epoch is in ascension, and this is a lie. Its way is broken, it stumbles where it treads, the grasp too weak to hold.

All politics and policies are the same, all politicians and frontmen look the same, actors all look alike – the rictus wide grin, the arched and frozen eyebrows, animated mannequins, mimic life. Like all parasites, these faux forms are getting an epic dose of that old curative – strong sunlight.

As the contrast in this realm is turned way up, the profane is revealed, its sham mimicry dissolving, as the Profound laughs gladly with a full heart, at the usurping mockery, that would hold all life in thrall.

The craven shape breaks apart, the spell is fizzer, sorcery pops like a cheap firework, the record skips and the DJ slips.

Horus pins Set.

As Autumn brings a dying season, Spring in the southern hemisphere is just beginning

Spring brings storms. As winter groans and breaks and fades, the gates of Hades finally swing shut on the age of Kali Yuga, the noisy undead of this epoch will again fall mute.

This realm rebukes the interloping shades, the Ancestors hold firm ground. Our song is their song mingled with our own. We sing in an age of Ages, four colours on the wheel, the Universe pivots as it should.

The fire of life, invigorates the eternal spark in all benevolent beings, now free of the gloom of a passing, savage age.

Blessings!

©2010 RFitzgerald

Rodney Fitzgerald is a New Zealander, a Kiwi. This guest blog is part of our series of guest-writerly blogs.

Others in the series to be featured here (along with those already featured) include:

Cathy Evans
Hart Johnson
Pete Madstone (May 2010)
Natasha Ramarathnam
Genie Rayner (October 2010)
Rob Read
Mehal Rockefeller (April 2010)
Catrien Ross of Energy Doorways
Tara Smith (September 2010)
Jim Vires (October 2010)

And the following delight from Chris OneFeather at BlogTalkRadio:

Balancing Eggs on Equinox
Dust from the Comet’s Tail

OneFeatherBlogTalkRadio

About this time every year, the leaves start to change, the air cools, and news about a familiar balancing act starts to surface. So what is the Autumnal Equinox and what’s the deal with balancing an egg on that day?

The Autumnal Equinox is the point during the second half of the year, when the sun is directly shining on the Equator. This day is known for marking the first day of Fall in the northern hemisphere. The reason why is all due to the position of the sun. When the sun shines at 90 degrees at the Equator, the entire Earth will experience 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night (This skews a few minutes around the Equator and North/South Poles, but it’s still pretty close). In fact, Equinox literally means “equal night.” Beyond that, for us in the Northern Hemisphere, our days will continue to get shorter.

On Equinox, September 23rd, the Sun crosses the celestial equator heading south at 03:09 UT. This astronomical event marks the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the south, Full 'harvest' moon occurs just six hours later at 9:11 UT

It is important to note, the Autumnal Equinox is set on the day in which the sun reaches 0 degrees latitude; therefore, it is not always on the same exact date. This year, the exact time is at 8:09 Pacific time. That’s why half of our calendars are marked with Thursday, September 23 as the first day of fall, since that is the first full day.

So, why the egg trick? This myth originated in China attached to the beginning of Spring. It relates to eggs representing new life, as does springtime for many agricultural areas. Over the years, the myth became famous at both equinoxes and is now more of a fun parlor trick for your friends. The assumption with this myth is that during equinox, a special balance of gravitational forces exists across the Earth. Although scientists have tried to bust this myth for years, the popular urban legend lives on. The actual truth is that the main gravitational force acting on the egg is the Earth’s gravitational force; which determines the weight of the egg. In fact, the moon is responsible for more changes in gravitational forces (i.e. tides) than the sun is.

So, can you balance an egg on an equinox? The answer is Yes. However, with a little patience, you can balance an egg any day of the year.

If the scientist in you is not quite ready to bust this myth so quickly, try your own experiment at home. Today, take a break and hold an egg with its wider part on a flat surface. Give the egg a minute or so to allow the liquid to settle in the bottom. Then, start carefully trying to achieve equilibrium, and therefore a free standing egg. Once you’ve mastered this, try it off and on throughout the year and see what happens!

Despite scientific inaccuracies with this myth, it is still a fun trick to try with your family and friends. After the Autumnal Equinox, the days will start getting shorter and the officially Fall will begin.

Ed: I want to thank Fitzy and Chris OneFeather for their contributions. We need to share more thoughts like these around this time of year. Thank you both.

September 26, 2010 Posted by | Ascension, astrology, authors, consciousness, earth changes, New Age, New Earth, seasonal, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment