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(saving so I’ll remember, hopefully)

Two weeks ago I had a *marvelous* writing day. Since then, it’s been like pulling teeth to get a mere 1100 words out.

You know, sometimes it’s not because I’m lazy. Sometimes, it could be that what I’m writing is wrong, and the story knows it. Sometimes, I need to step back from how I think it’s going to go, and maybe just see if it needs to go in this other direction. Some day, it’s not going to take me two weeks of struggling to consider that possibility.

That is all.

I’ve talked before about the importance of knowing thyself, and of honoring that. Of working with that, because when you know yourself, and your habits, your strengths and your weaknesses, when you are honest about these things, you are better able to achieve your goals. We are not set up very much, in mainstream society, in our mainstream culture*, to honor knowing ourselves much. We are instead encouraged to let mainstream culture tell us who and what we are, what our values are, what our morals should be, what our ideas of health and happiness and love should look like, what our goals ought to be, etc. Any one of you whose ideas about any little thing that do not mesh with what society has decided should be will know what I’m talking about, because you feel that pressure. You feel that surprise from others. You know. Thinking for ourselves, bucking the status quo, these things are not encouraged, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s so easy to forget the things you know from time to time. It isn’t surprising to me that, as I go along in life, I lose sight of what I know, and I thus fail to honor said knowledge.

I learned last year (the year I wrote 100k worth of words on fiction, the first time I’ve done THAT MUCH fiction writing in one year in over a decade) what works for me. What works for me? Doing the bulk of my weekly progress goal on my one day home alone. I didn’t write much at all between May and August, either. I got a huge amount done on one novel in the beginning of the year, more done one the current WiP during the second half of the year, and I took November off to work on the NaNo project.

During NaNo, I’ll admit it: I became addicted to the ever increasing word count. I completed 45k additional words on that project (thus ultimately not “winning”, but I cannot be anything other that pleased with the success of last year in terms of getting material onto the page) and I enjoyed it.

I set goals for 2014. Ultimately: get the three(ish) books ofthe current series onto the page. Churn out material. Pull back from trying to get my name out there in more markets that it’s currently in. And I didn’t exactly forget those goals, but I did use November’s word counts as a blueprint. With that pace in mind, I could easily have the three books out of me and onto the page by April, May at the latest.

And for the entire month of February? Nothing. No words. Writing became a chore, again. Drudgery.

NaNo was fun. I’m likely to even do it again, although I’m looking at September or August instead of November to have my own little novel writing month. (JoNoWriMo!) I wish I could say that writing EVERY DAY brings me joy, that writing every day fulfills me. It doesn’t. Writing EVERY DAY is drudgery. It takes the joy, the excitement away. It’s possible that I need that anticipatory build up. It’s possible that I need the time away to figure out what’s coming next. Whatever the reason, I have not written ~ 90k words since August of last year by writing every day. I wrote that much since last August by focusing the bulk of my writing on my one day home alone during the week, and by clearing that day so that I am able to spend 5-8 hours simply writing. This is what works for me. So, I’m going to go back to honoring that.

I’m also discovering the importance of mini-goals when it comes to novel writing. I need more dangling carrots than simply reaching the end of the story; the process is too lengthy, and it’s too easy to decide I’m failing because it’s “taking so long” to get there. I’ve introduced mini goals, and they have tangible rewards. Like, new books. Reaching 45k enabled me to purchase two e-books. 60k will earn me another. I’m thinking every 15k will result in a book or some other $10 or less treat.

Yes. Any excuse is a good excuse. What?

I’ve learned a lot since beginning this blog. It has
been an invaluable tool to learning my patterns, seeing my limits, discovering what works for me and what doesn’t, discovering what y goals are, in terms of writing.

My goals? Get the stories out. Dare to dream about getting paid to write my books. Get the cycle I go through inverted, so that instead of long periods “refueling” between writing bouts, I have longer writig bouts with less down time in between. Get prolific. Become a prolific writer.

There are so many stories. I can’t write them all, but I need to be writing the ones that I can. I want to. I dare to want to.

Looking back over the past few years, I have to say: I’ve succeeded on inverting that cycle. The Big Goal for 2014 is to get the WiP series done. Written, not necessarily print ready, but with an eye toward publication in 2015. I haven’t failed — I’m 43k into the first novel, and halfway done with it. The second novel is already roughly 1/3 written. Third of the three isn’t even started yet. I’m tempted to say I that I’ve stalled. I haven’t *stalled*. I’ve been working on other stuff.

But this is my reminder: 2014 is for getting this series written. Everything else comes after. Because it matters that much to me, to see this goal met.

I love writing.

I’ve been in a reading glut. Finally gotten around to reading the Valdemar books. I devoured my way through six and seven of the Walker Papers. C.E. Murphy is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers, ever. Reading helps me remember why I love writing.

I love writing.

#

In other news: our dog is now on spendy heart medication. February was an interesting month for us. I’m grateful that writing is such an inexpensive passion to have.

For the next installment of our Celebrating Pagan Fiction series, I’m extremely excited to share my interview with C.S. McCath. I discovered her work when I read her contribution in The Shining Cities (an awesome anthology with amazing stories and the seed that sprouted the Celebrating series). I purchased her collection The Ruin of Beltany Ring and was so very happy that I did so. (Ah the instant gratification of e-books!) Her power with words, with imagery, her skill at taking your heart and manipulating it with such stories — how strange, to adore having our hearts played with, but she does so with such a deft hand. A brilliant author to have discovered, and I’m honored that she’s taken time to answer some questions for this interview. Enjoy!

~*~*~*~*~

What is your pagan tradition/path?

beltanyringI’m a gnostic Druid with a Buddhist practice, which is to say that I revere the natural world and value the internal spiritual process. Of note, I’m a Druid member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where there is a strong Buddhist presence (Gampo Abbey is located here, in Pleasant Bay). Because I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, rigid belief systems make me uncomfortable no matter what their origins might be, so I’ve never been able to embrace any branch of Paganism with a well-defined religious structure. I’m also less ritual-focused than I used to be and prefer to express my spirituality in meditation, wildlife rescue and vegan advocacy.

How does your particular paganism or spiritual path influence your writing?

I don’t set out to include elements of my present spiritual path in my fiction and poetry, so my work isn’t necessarily Druidry or Buddhism-focused. However, I have and do include Pagan themes in my writing overall; from religious ideologies to ritual to lifestyle choices, but this is more an artifact of my twenty-eight years in Paganism and the world-view it continues to shape in me.

Having said this, I think it’s important that readers be exposed to Pagan themes in fiction and poetry. Paganism is a minority religion, and there are so many prevalent misconceptions about who we are and what we believe. If all we offer the world by way of explanation are historical and instructional materials, then we don’t give non-Pagans the opportunity to identify with us as protagonists, antagonists and supporting characters in the human story. So whether ‘Pagan fiction’ is a genre or a means of identifying certain motifs in storytelling of all kinds, I support its growth wholeheartedly.

Was it a conscious decision on your part to write about pagan topics or was it a natural outgrowth of ‘writing what you know’?

It was both. Because my world-view is Pagan, I’ve written what I know quite a bit. However, I’ve also written for Pagan audiences because I thought my work might find a welcome there. I’m really happy to find that it has!

Do you view your fiction as religious fiction, in that it has either a didactic or an inspirational purpose?

Inasmuch as storytelling teaches us how to be human, I write fiction with a didactic or inspirational message. However, I think there is a subtle, but important difference between the work of a bard and the work of a religious fiction writer. The bard’s voice is an outgrowth of her place in a community, which means that she speaks for her people in praise, satire, hero tales, object lessons and the like, and her underlying message is always ‘this is who we are’. The mainstream religious fiction writer speaks to her people, which is why so much work in that genre is didactic or inspirational. It serves much the same function a sermon does, and its underlying message is ‘this is how you should or should not behave’. At the root of these two kinds of storytellers are the kinds of communities they work in; tribal and accountable to one another vs. individual and accountable to God. I hope we live in the former sort of community, and so I try to write as if we do.

There is an abundance of pagan-friendly stories on the market these days, especially with the gaining popularity and ease of independent publishing. Do you find there is a difference between material written by pagans about pagan or pagan-friendly stories and material written by non-pagans about pagans or pagan-friendly stories?

I think people who write self-consciously Pagan fiction are more careful about appropriate representation of the faith. I also think they take the elements of Paganism seriously; Gods, practices, community and so forth. Conversely, people who simply use Pagan tropes to tell a story are often riding the popularity wave of paranormal storytelling and either don’t know how or don’t care to be respectful to Pagans and Paganism. That’s why I really appreciated Deborah Blake’s “Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author” series of online workshops. Sadly, they aren’t running any longer, but they were a great service to non-Pagan writers, I think.

Where do you hope to see the future of pagan fiction go?

I want for it to have an equal place among the other literate voices of the contemporary Pagan community and to serve a function apart from non-fiction writing, blogging and the like. I want for it to freely describe, envision, praise and critique us with the tools unique to storytelling so that we can come to better understand ourselves by seeing through one anothers’ eyes.

Who are your favorite pagan fiction authors and/or what are the titles of some of your favorite pagan fiction works?

I’d rather point you in the direction of a brilliant, online resource for Pagan fiction, Eternal Haunted Summer. Rebecca Buchanan has been a tireless supporter of Pagan storytelling for many years, and EHS is a well-curated journal. Go explore the archives. You won’t be sorry.

[I can only heartily concur with that! Rebecca is providing us with a wonderful resource, and you should definitely take advantage of that!]

Lastly, tell us where we can find more about you and your available work?

I have a short story entitled, “N Is for Nanomachine” forthcoming in Rhonda Parrish’s A Is for Apocalypse anthology, and you can explore my other published work by visiting my web site at csmaccath.com. I’m also blogging for PaganSquare.

I’ve “known” Darragha online for a spell (hah! I’m so clever!) and I’d known for most of that time that she wrote, and wrote pagan fiction. In fact, she’s one of the people I had in mind when I started this series — because her writing is damned good. It’s a bit embarrassing that I have, at this point, only read her With Intent release. So many stories to read, so many stories to write, still haven’t figured out how to re-arrange time to my liking!

Please enjoy this next installment of our Celebrating Pagan Fiction series, and thanks again, Darragha, for taking the time to answer these questions.

What is your pagan tradition/path?

DF_TTIH1_WithIntent (1)I was Northern Trad before I even knew it had a name. At age 10 my walls plastered with posters and art of the Norse gods. I devoured everything I could find on the subject. I took two years of private lessons in Icelandic during high school and made my first (solo) trek to Iceland in 1979. There, my life changed forever when Odin rolled up at the national museum (see FATE Magazine, January 2001) :) The basis for my first published novel, “Love’s Second Sight,” occurred shortly after my Odinic blessing when I was pulled into an astral adventure after falling asleep on a church lawn beneath a statue of Leif Eiriksson. Twenty-plus years of research and a return trip to Iceland solidified my path as an Aesir-loving author. That said, I have been a practicing Buddhist for 30 years with the SGI-USA.

How does your particular paganism or spiritual path influence your writing?

Loki made an appearance as my muse in 2003. I wrote that rather epic mall encounter/adventure into a fictional account in “Devil King of the Sixth Heaven” in the anthology “Teaching Old Gods New Tricks.” Knowing I had a muse, and knowing his name and his penchant for spicy fiction propelled me. I find allowing my muse to *inspire* me at his leisure makes for darn good stories. (I believe a Hail Loki would be appropriate here).

Was it a conscious decision on your part to write about pagan topics or was it a natural outgrowth of ‘writing what you know’?

I hadn’t really considered my writings pagan until it was pointed out to me. I write what I know, what I love and from my heart. I honor the gods with every click of the keyboard even if I’m writing about shapeshifting whale gods or demon cowboys.

Do you view your fiction as religious fiction, in that it has either a didactic or an inspirational purpose?

I hope my writings inspire others in some way, but my intent has never been so. I once had a reader email me and say, regarding “Love’s Second Sight,” that upon reading it aloud to each other, that it was the best foreplay they’d ever had. Nice! So, if that couple had a religious experience while reading one of my books, praise the gods.

There is an abundance of pagan-friendly stories on the market these days, especially with the gaining popularity and ease of independent publishing. Do you find there is a difference between material written by pagans about pagan or pagan-friendly stories and material written by non-pagans about pagans or pagan-friendly stories?

Nah, it’s all good. Like Loki has said (UPG alert), “The Marvel universe is totally off, but at least it keeps my name on people’s lips.”

Where do you hope to see the future of pagan fiction go?


I think pagan fiction is holding its own in a fickle industry. I’d like to see it marketed in broader categories so that more readers will pick it up and enjoy it.

Lastly, tell us where we can find more about your and your available work?


I write as Darragha Foster, Elspeth MacLean and El Mac.

I’m on Amazon.com under all three pen names and all over the place online as Darragha Foster and Elspeth MacLean. El Mac is my “man/man romance shorties” and they’re only on Amazon.com

My publishers are LSBooks.com and Forevermore Publishing.

 

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Getting this up a bit late in the day — sorry about that! I’m still distracted by the snowstorm that’s got me housebound with mere inches on the ground.

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For one week only, you can purchase my book The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales for 99 cents! Tired of the cold and the snow? Come to the Pacific Northwest for a while — the land is green, the temperatures mild, and the inhabitants colorful . . . and not entirely human . . .

If you’ve been curious about this book, now’s the time to take advantage of the price reduction!

Long time readers of this blog will know that I’m a fan of Juli’s writing. I am ridiculously pleased to see her work hitting the public sphere. I’ve been allowed access to her talent for years; it’s about time you get the chance, too!

JuliDRevezzob

Juli’s writing is replete with pagan elements, from battles between Celtic gods in her Harshad Wars series to her witches in Antique Magic series, so it may not be a huge surprise that Juli herself in pagan. And, happily, she’s willing to talk to us about that wonderful place where paganism and writing intersects. It is one of my favorite “crossroads”.

Thanks, Juli!

PassionsSacredDance_w6021_750_zps15998ea0

What is your pagan tradition/path?

Juli: Well, I’m a budding bard and like to piddle around with my garden as much as my stories, so it’s a little mixture of Druidic, muse, and Earth mother, I guess you could say. :)

How does your particular paganism or spiritual path influence your writing?

Juli: I’ve always leaned a little bit on Mythology when building the worlds in my stories (both romance and fantasy) but I have, of late, mixed more of a Celtic mythological feel into my stories.

Was it a conscious decision on your part to write about pagan topics or was it a natural outgrowth of ‘writing what you know’?

Juli:  My very first finished manuscript had a pagan priestess in it, and that was before I really knew what I was doing.  So I suppose it was more a natural outgrowth of my chosen genre. After all, even Tolkien mixed mythology into his Lord of the Rings series. So it’s something I’ve always leaned towards.

Do you view your fiction as religious fiction, in that it has either a didactic or an inspirational purpose?

Juli: Not really. It’s just storytelling flavored with a dash of paganism.

There is an abundance of pagan-friendly stories on the market these days, especially with the gaining popularity and ease of independent publishing. Do you find there is a difference between material written by pagans about pagan or pagan-friendly stories and material written by non-pagans about pagans or pagan-friendly stories?

Juli: Emphatically TAI_New_eBook600_zps490e4eecyes! How do I put this? You can tell when a writer knows nothing about the pagan myths and gods they’re fiddling with. And when they do. There’s a certain level of respect that just can’t be faked. In fact, even though sometimes my characters have to go up against the gods (for instance Caitlin in my Antique Magic series butts heads with Arianrhod a little), I have tried to remain respectful of the figures I employ in my stories. Any “antagonist gods” I might employ are antagonists in the myths. Also, I don’t know if I’d say there’s an abundance of pagan-friendly fiction out there at all. It’s more like one tiny block of a corner of the floor of fictional subgenres.

Where do you hope to see the future of pagan fiction go?

Juli: I hope it continues and becomes more respectful of the figures non-pagan authors are dealing with.  But in reality, I predict, like anything else, its popularity will wane, more than anything.

Who are your favorite pagan fiction authors and/or what are the titles of some of your favorite pagan fiction works?

Juli: Herm….can I say my host and get away with it? (Her host certainly thinks so!!) :) Her and Rebecca Buchanan, and romance authors Maggie Shayne and Elissa Wilds. I also love Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mysteries.

Lastly, tell us where we can find more about your and your available work?


Juli: Interested readers can find more at my website at: http://julidrevezzo.com

And my work is available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Juli-D.-Revezzo/e/B008AHVTLO

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/juli-d.-revezzo

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jdrevezzo and The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=1064

Thank you for hosting me, Jolene!

Thank you, again, Juli, for your time!

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