In the Bleak Midwinter – Solstice Wishes

The star wheel has turned and even though we’ve had a warm winter with the drought and wildfires it still feels bleak.  Gray has finally washed over the landscape.  

The solstice is here and with it I’ve made a silent wish for peace in myself and in the world.  We watched Vice news last night saw the conflict in the Ukraine.  It looked like the movie set of a post apocalyptic film. It was hard to believe that it was happening in Europe.  

“War is over if you want it” croons the modern Christmas classic. We all know that’s not true.  It’s kind of like the law of scarcity.  Poverty might be eliminated but scarcity will never be eliminated. The same logic seems like it should apply. At the same time Harvard has proven that we are living in less violent times. Maybe my wish for peace has been answered but I just don’t have the eyes to see it.  

Another wish I have for solstice is for serenity. 

What wishes do you have for solstice?

Delighting in Winter Lights

Tonight I relished the cold as much as I could with my sweetheart at the NC Arboretum.  To be fair I have a metal plate in my neck and I’m quite aware of it during the sub freezing temperatures that we walked through listening to carols and admiring sparkling lights.  

There was a certain joie de vivre though that we seized as we listened to the jazzy renditions of holiday tunes and my hubby took umpteen pictures of bonsai LED glowing in the dim. 

I thought of three different poems tonight and I hope these three poems will light your winter:

1- You, Darkness

You, darkness, that I come from

I love you more than all the fires

that fence in the world, 

for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone

and then no one outside learns of you. 
But the darkness pulls in everything-

shapes and fires, animals and myself, 

how easily it gathers them! –

powers and people-
and it is possible a great presence is moving near me. 
I have faith in nights.  — Rilke

2 – Song of The Open Road

Next was Whitman.  There was a Christmas wishing tree.  My husband asked if I wanted to write a wish for the tree and my answer was, as it typically is when posited with these dilemmas:

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune. 

This is one of my favorite poems, though exceedingly long. I like the excerpts of it in “Singing: The Living Tradition”.

3 – Shab-e Yalda

Lastly this poem was read at a special solstice service a few years ago by an incredible woman who goes to the UUFF. 

This winter solstice fires will burn all night,

with sparks cascading; messages in flight

I’m always excited to learn about other cultures and traditions.  

The walk was highly ontological–chilling enough to be present.  I didn’t really focus on poetry during the walk but now that I’m home am glad I can.  

Do you have any poems that brighten your winter?

Bring Your Own Book

This game seems like it would be fun to play with a book club. 

It is quite possibly the most stressful game that I own.  It feels like a test that you did not study well enough for.  
We played with Atlantis Rising, Merlin’s Dragon, Earth and America because they all had Tables of Contents.  I picked up The Hero and the Crown, which I have read an embarrassing number of times and then put it back down when I realized how difficult it would be to play with.  

While you bring your own book, you swap books after winning two cards so don’t expect to keep your book for the duration of the game.  

The picker can use his or her time to familiarize himself with his book while waiting for the other players to pick the answers. 

The only thing that seems to need a time limit/house rule is the amount of time it takes for the first player to find the answer for the card.  After that everyone else has one minute.  

As goes for most things in life, it’s not fun if you don’t go fast. 

I give this game three of five stars.  

The Ending 

I’m so happy to finally have finished my first draft of my second book.  

I’m looking forward to starting revisions.  

I know it’s too short at this point but know I’ll expound upon it in the revisions just like I did for the last one. 

My critique partner gave me good feedback about my villain – that she felt too rushed in many of the scenes.  

I’m also happy that I feel like I’m able to finally give my readers the ending that they wanted with the first book.  

On my own voice

A dear friend of mine is a sociologist who loves literature. One of her theories is that there is no such thing as fiction. She maintains that all work is somewhat true, somewhat autobiographical. 

Another Oscar Wilde quote:

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

How many masks do we  put on as fiction writers? My husband on the other hand finds this line of thinking absurd. He holds that there is definitely fiction cut and dry. 

In my WIP I tell the truth about some hard moments in my life.  I hope that it rings true and makes people feel.  In doing so I aim to write about what I know in a highly fictionalized way that I hope will make people think. 

Is there such a thing as fiction? I think so, but I must admit that I have attempted to pour out part of myself into this book.  

The book I’m reading now (Silent Hall) has been described as perfect and incomparable on the back cover. I’m enjoying it, but I wonder how much of it the author has poured himself into.  I wonder what kind of life he’s had and what he’s wanting the reader to think and feel. 

It’s also intimidating to see a book described as perfect when I know how replete with errors mine is. 

The Path to Victory 

Romance author Eden Glenn told me the other day that I should read The First Five Pages, so I did.  

Noah Lukeman ends with this:

Ask yourself what you would do if you knew you would never be published. Would you still write? If you are truly writing for the art of it, the answer will be yes. And then, every word is a victory.  

That’s a scary thought. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. 

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was able to hold a pencil.  That’s when I wrote my first stories.  

Right now I have two screenplays, a novel, and a novel that I’m working on.  

Last year around this time I was working on a screenplay.   I know I should finish it but I put it on hold to work on NaNoWriMo last year and now I’m working on the second book in that series. 

Why do I write? Part of me needs to create  whether anyone sees it or not.  Part of me wants to be heard though.  

I’ve had a very lovely conversation with a friend recently about fiction and whether any writing is fiction or whether it is all non fiction.  

I believe the goal of writing is empathy and human connection especially in speculative fiction.  

But as Oscar Wilde said in The Picture of Dorian Gray, “It is simply expression,  as Harry says, that gives reality to things”. 

While publishing is a goal of mine, I will keep writing and working hard toward improving my writing and try to count each word as a victory.  

The Male Perspective & The Kindest Rejection 

I know… strange title.  It’s 3 AM and I’ve woken with a migraine.  As nausea rolls over me by the light of my salt lamp I’ve thought about the fact that only 28% of characters in films are female despite the fact that we make up half the world.  

I have four writing writing acquaintances — two are close, two are not, all four are male.  

One of my close female friends said she didn’t think she could formulate characters into voices.  I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence on women’s part or what.  It’s just intriguing to me. 

The feedback I’m receiving is entirely male until I get to beta readers.  Also several of my beta readers are male as well. I’m not complaining.  I am grateful for the feedback I have received.  I’m just musing and curious. I know two editors who are female but they are copy editors not content editors. 

There was a chat room I used to be part of that had another female writer who was German.  There are female writers out there.  We exist.  I suppose they’re just writing romance and not fantasy or YA and not NA. (Nobody else is writing NA… *crickets *)

This brings me to my kind rejection. From the The Speculative Literature Foundation I received an individualized letter. It was the kindest rejection I’ve received.  I didn’t expect to hear from them at all much less to hear something encouraging.