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Pay It Forward: February Resolve to Crack the Ice

INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP CORNER

Ultimate irony: more light= more snow

Ultimate irony: more light= more snow

PAYING IT FORWARD—Whatever the Weather

More chill—just one more plod thru the snow and I’ll make it, if…

Such a scenario, I hope, should not happen to a single one of you in Alex’s band of Insecure Writers.

Buxom Ice Maiden on New England's Arctic front, February 2015, courtesy NOAA

Buxom Ice Maiden on New England’s Arctic front, February 2015, courtesy NOAA

Februarius mensis, after all—even for the Romans—was their “month of purification”. Adopted freely by the medieval Roman Catholic church, it morphed into Candlemas—Purification and doorway to Lent.

“The Feast of the Purification, otherwise known as Candlemas marks the end of the Season of Christmastide” according to Roman Catholic Latin Mass Society

Februarius mensis “month of purification, cannot conceivably have been named for anyone frivolous, one imagines.

Blame it on Celtic Fire Festivals
Yet, long before there was a church hierarchy, pagan/country people worshipped cycles of the Earth, relating sun and moon movements to life and daily work. In pre-Celtic Europe Candlemas was Feast Day of Bride—mermaid birthed by the Ocean with dramatic increase in daily light, Brigantia in Roman Britain, Brigid/Brighid in Irish lore, some identify her with great warrior queen of the Iceni, Dark Age winged monarch Boudicca.

Brazilian CARNAVAL, German Fasching, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Bahamian JUNKANOO all have the same roots.

Carnaval-Rio-BueñosAires-Hamburg,- Archangel-Nassau

Carnaval crazy in Rio-BueñosAires-Hamburg-CaboRoag-Archangel-Everglades-Nassau

‘First come Candlemas
Syne the New Meen
The niest Tiseday efter that
Is aye Festern’s E’en.
That Meen oot
An’ anither at its hicht
The niest Sunday efter that
Is aye Pasche richt.’
Ancient Scots Easter calculation. Anon

Cusp Candlemas waxing gibbous moon, with a congregation of planetary companions

Cusp Candlemas waxing gibbous moon, with a congregation of planetary companions

Cosmically, last night’s full moon, parading across the heavens with Jupiter and Regulus in harness, like celestial sundogs borrowed from daytime frolics to dance a nighttime mazurka, gave a little more pizzazz to February darkness.

Magnificent. And in the U.S., they call this Groundhog Day.

It may be short, but sadly, those twenty-eight nights of February are often a crucial month to the human psyche.

It is common knowledge—however tragic—that senior spirits, weathering many winters, often find the ‘two fortnights of Februar’ hardest to bear—(statistically) choose to die.

Healthcare vs. Warfare
Americans may deplore lack of national health and welfare systems, as in Europe, but where poverty lurks, conditions remain identical. Homeless people worldwide—their numbers grow every year—suffer. For some, there is no welfare check, no food stamps, no heat. And when winter returns with a vengeance, bringing an icy blast, street people—no matter which culture dominates—are marginalized.
Many die.

Pay It Forward: the NewAge Way
*
One solution to life’s stresses is in the mindset of our Youth.
Reverse psychology had it only half right.
By projecting our loving thoughts, or acting forward-in-kind, we anticipate—and receive in advance—the reward of giving another pleasure, and feeling his/her gratitude
GRATITUDE—winging on a love vibration—certainly makes the world go round.

Octogenarian Angie Dickinson, neé Angeline Brown, shows how best to pay-it-forward  1989 Academy Awards

Octogenarian Angie Dickinson, neé Angeline Brown, shows how best to pay-it-forward
1989 Academy Awards

In Pay It Forward (2000), U.S. film drama based on Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel, child star Haley Joel Osment launches a good-will movement—almost by accident in doing research for his social studies class. Helen Hunt, his single mother, and Kevin Spacey, sociologist-mentor are stunned when Angie Dickinson turns out to be his real-life street-wise ‘consultant’ for his school project.

Octogenarian and proud of it, Angie Dickinson—my heroine, 83 this year and counting–is one of Hollywood’s hardest working gals. No sign of slowing down, either.

Born Angeline Brown, September 30, 1931 (age 83) in Kulm, North Dakota, her family moved to Glendale-Hollywood, where she graduated in business studies, aged 15. Briefly married to football player Gene Dickinson (m. 1952–60) and longer to composer Burt Bacharach (m. 1965–81), her only child Nikki Bacharach (1966-2007) committed suicide.

Portraying a homeless cohort to young do-gooder Joel in Pay It Forward, Ms Dickinson helps him regenerate other lives which might have floundered. This simple act of anonymous giving, in frame of mind of seeking no comeback, does produce small miracles.

New Age—New Wave—nouvelle vague: we've got something here. Rolling with this one—High FIVE

New Age—New Wave—nouvelle vague: we’ve got something here. Rolling with this one—High FIVE

To give, and not to count the cost
To fight, and not to heed the wounds,
To toil, and not to seek for rest,
To labor, and not to ask for any reward,
Save that of knowing that we do Thy Will
― Ignatius of Loyola

And as we know: miracles—and love—make the world go round.
*inspired by a friend & co-believer in humankind

Post Scriptum: THE WAVE
In context of leaving anonymous gifts without seeking acknowledgement—as someone we all know around here does every month—ahem Ninja Cap’n Alex: this a trait which has carried our little group of IWSG-ers through some hard times. I have complete faith that Alex’s own brand of Paying it Forward will continue to support us. And I know I—and loads of my writerly co-travelers—will dig in with both feet as we reap greater and better life rewards!

Let’s enter that Consciousness, New Age IWSGers—go with that Flow, er Wave.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

February 4, 2015 Posted by | astrology, belief, blogging, calendar customs, consciousness, culture, environment, festivals, history, nature, New Age, pre-Christian, publishing, seasonal, sun, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Publishing Headache: Do or Be Done By

Monthy IWSG Corner

Mrs BeDoneByAsYouDid, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith for (1916) The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley

However talented and charismatic your writing is, entering the publishing world at ground level can be daunting. We all need a little extra help to keep our heads down and our fingers on the keyboard. In that respect, this little monthly injection from the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) is a boon. Those who have been following know that our revered leader, Alex J Cavanaugh, celebrated the launch of his second book last week, see blog below.

That’s taking the I-95 to stardom. Many of us toil and trouble over our works for years before reaching that superhighway. Some of us get stuck on Route-66 indefinitely and then launch ourselves into self-pub, if only to see what it actually looks like on the bookshelf!

Within what is almost the last industry to become ‘wired’, Big Five Publishers are notorious for not replying to query letters for months; require representation by an agent before looking at a submission; fail to return MSS unless accompanied by a SAE; don’t like email submissions and generally offer little advice. The learning curve is huge — and mostly self-taught.

It is little wonder, then, that self-publishing has taken off — there are an inordinate number of frustrated authors-turned-publishers out there. And with the advent of Smashwords, CreateSpace and Lulu, everyone can do it.

Plunging into deep waters: Tom hides from trout in Jessie Smith's 1916 illustration of Kingsley's 'Water Babies: a Fairy Story for Land Babies'

But we authors, published, self-published or wannabe-published, are a determined group. And we still — in our darkest days — imagine our name in (virtual) lights, our nom de plume in headlines.

So, some of us –while not letting up on the query circuit– adapt ourselves for entry into yet another world of imaginary stardom: the book contest. Believe me, it is yet another plunge into unknown waters.

I submitted to ABNA again this year, but did not make it through the first hoop — although I am thrilled to say one of my writerly cohorts did!!

Undaunted, I regrouped and headed back to my old stomping grounds (Scotland) and submitted for the newish (eight-year-old) Dundee International Book Prize, a British enterprise co-hosted by the University of Dundee and the City of Discovery. Like ABNA, Dundee takes a month or so to let you know you’ve made it (or not) through the first round. Both accepted online submissions. However, unlike ABNA’s publishing partner, Penguin Books, Cargo — the publisher behind Dundee– announces the winner AND launches the winning book in October. This at least gives the entrant hope.

Judges lined up to scan the winning entries include author Phillip Pullman, agent Jenny Brown and media intellectual Stephen Fry. With the prize also comes an advance of GBP £10,000. It is a major incentive for any new author.

The difference between these two contests, however, is striking.

Tom finds not all young ladies are as dirty as he: Smith illustration of 1916 edition of The Water Babies

All comparisons of geographical size, literary muscle and talent aside, I saw these two arms of the industry reaching out to us authors in remarkably different ways. Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) — author of the Victorian cautionary tale, The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for Land Babies — would have had fun. In his 1863 tale of a lowly sweep (boy apprentice) lowered down chimneys to clean as he went, Kingsley emphasized squalor versus gentrified living, criticized child-labor, was outraged by American slavery. His hero Tom is amazed to see his own reflection in a little lady’s bedroom, immediately plunging himself afterwards into a stream to wash; and spending the rest of the story in the arms of fairies. He is ‘redeemed’ by two Victorian mother-figures: Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby, and Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid: the former surrounded all water babies in a kindly bubble; the latter brushed all aside with impunity.

Kingsley’s authority figures show remarkable similarities to our two book contests.

Dundee, a rising star in the British book prize league, offered press office interaction, explanation of how to submit, entered into helpful discussion when one platform seemed incompatible with their entry guidelines, and acknowledged receipt: c.f. Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby.

ABNA, on the other hand, admittedly swamped by 5000 entrants, did not acknowledge receipt of entries, but its webpage was efficient; announcing MS upload as having ‘succeeded’ or try again. The February 23rd first round successes were provided in a pdf list which could be downloaded to see if one’s name was included. No correspondence was entered into. In a cautionary sense, ABNA gave no advice, took no prisoners, offered no ‘Pay-it-Forward’ ethos; c.f. Kingsley’s Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid.

I do not expect consolation or even understanding from the wide world of publishing — matters for publishers have gone from bad to worse in a matter of a few years. They struggle with advances (many give none), book returns, publicity budgets and book signings. It has become a cut-throat business where many have gone down. But in taking the Bedonebyasyoudid approach, slicing off all option for the kindness of others to play a part, they may have been a little hasty –shortsighted, even. [In my opinion there will always be a place in people’s hearts for the feel of a book in one’s hands].

Dundee is Paying-it-Forward. I admire them for that. When I was unable to complete their online entry form — let’s just say it was formatted in a program which my **MacBook** couldn’t read– the Prize office suggested I send in my own text document, completing my required details. How enlightened!

Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby at Kingsley’s Christian redemptive best!

There is no mega-solution or allegory in this cautionary tale; it is totally unrealistic to believe that the publishing industry, especially in the US where readership is the world’s highest, will change overnight and become a kindly motherly soul.

But I’d like to compliment Dundee on its humanness.

It matters not who wins and who loses; but how we treat each other in the process. And ‘paying-it-forward’ is going to become more important to our interaction as we writing-humans journey through this crazy fairy story called life. On that lingering note, I thank our host, Alex, whose pay-it-forward approach has rubbed off quite a bit lately!
©2012 Marian Youngblood

March 7, 2012 Posted by | authors, culture, elemental, fiction, novel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments