I write this on a day when I have had to turn the radio off. Thankfully we do not have a television, so we have been spared from a good deal of the media frenzy surrounding the death of Margaret Thatcher this week. Having got through BBC Radio 4's morning news program, just about, the prospect of a day full of obituaries, analysis of her life and work, frankly fills me with rage.
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When we decided to try having a baby, my husband and I were well aware of the fact that doing so would mean putting some of ourselves aside (at least for a little while). We must re-prioritize how we spend our excess money and time. Traveling will be a little difficult for a few years. Spontaneous nights out at the movies will stop until the little one is old enough to come along (here's hoping there are some good children's movies in the making!).
I’m going through some stuff right now. I’m going to try and keep this blog going, but may be intermittent with it, email, and social networking.
When I was a child, I wanted to be an author, not for fame or fortune, but because I believed that I could make a positive difference to the world by writing books. I’ve written a lot of books, under this and the other name. There are published novels out there, and non-fics, and the graphic novel. Admittedly I don’t know how Hopeless is selling, but in all other areas, my books don’t really shift. I promote, I do events, I use the internet, it’s not for lack of trying on that side. It doesn’t help that, despite being up against film, TV, internet, computer games and going out, for your leisure budget, the book industry does not have the kind of marketing budgets these far more successful forms spend. There’s a belief that books are a magic thing that people are bound to want. They aren’t, and without investing in advertising, its no wonder book sales are not great. Archaia, who have Hopeless, work their bottoms off getting word out about books, I have no complaint about them, they punch well above their weight, and are doing a really good job, but the industry as a whole is a sorry mess.
Some days it feels like every other person online is writing a book. The world has no use for that many books. I feel like I’m adding to a pile of crap, not giving something of value, and I’m suffering from profound inspiration fail.
I’ve heard from a lot of sources how an author has to study the market, go where the money is, do what the reader wants. I can’t work that way, it sucks the life and inspiration out of me. Which puts me firmly into the category of the precious and self important author who won’t ever achieve anything. There are a tiny minority of authors who, through sheer genius and innovation get to put something actually new into the world. But I am not Neil Gaiman, or Yan Martel. I’m too ponderous for genre fiction and just plain not clever enough to count as literature.
There comes a time when you have to look at your sales, and how hard it is to get bookings, even when you offer to do it for free, how little interest there is, and look at your contemporaries. People who started after I did have got deals with much bigger houses, can reliably get far higher sales self publishing than I can, sell out at every event they are invited to, and so forth, and recognise there may be a very simple reason for this.
I’m not actually a very good author.
I think I’m wasting everybody’s time, and deluding myself that I could do something of value.
I’m going to take some time and rethink. The ‘proper job’ option is more for the summer, when moving off the boat will mean I don’t have a vast cycling commute to the nearest centres of employment. My body would not be equal to that. I’m going to keep editing, maybe look for more editing work. There are a few people who read this blog, and feed back in ways that make me feel it may be at least as useful as it is self indulgent, which is reason enough to keep going.
I have so little inspiration for fiction – this is not really a choice I’m making, more a recognition that perhaps I have nothing to tell good stories about. This has been building for a long time now, depression, exhaustion, frustration, the shape of the market and my too numerous shortcomings. I’m not anything special, and pretending that I could be has wasted a lot of time for a lot of people, for which I am apologising. I want to do something useful in the world, and this isn’t it. Right now I feel that road sweeping or shelf stacking would constitute a more useful contribution to the state of humanity than what I actually do.
Just a quick heads up to announce to the world that Druidry and the Ancestors is officially published and out there and available and all that! Got the notificaiton last night.
The other reason this is short is that I’ve been out all day doing an event, and shall be out all day tomorrow and am a bit tired as a consequence. But, if anyone would like to see me, buy books, fondle Tom’s art, and see all the other lvoely crafty people we’re sharing as space with, we will be at Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust, Gloucestershire, all day tomorrow. Which will not help anyone in distant lands, but I know oneor two readers are from round ‘ere…. normal service will be resumed on Monday, probably.
Hello, this is a somewhat different sort of a thing today.
I know that many of you reading this have blogs of your own – some of you I follow diligently. A number of you have been kind enough to reblog my posts in the past, and on occasion, enthused enough to write responses to my ponderings. I’d like to write you something, if you’d be willing and able to find it a home on your own site or another space.
I can do articles, poetry and flash fiction to order, I’ll try my hand at any topic, within reason. If you would like something for your blog, magazine, website, egroup or any other space, please just say. Let me know what sort of thing and what sort of length, and if its remotely feasible, I’ll do it.
If you were wondering why… Over the coming months, Tom and I have two books coming out. The long awaited first instalment of the Hopeless Maine graphic novel series is on the way. We’ve been working towards this moment for years. There’s also a much more recent project – Druidry and the Ancestors.
Now, the book industry, is a bitch. There are something like 250,000 books published every year, and some of them have advertising budgets and authors who are already well known and other such advantages. We are not in that position. We have publishers who can and will promote, but they aren’t massive houses with money to burn, and neither of us is terribly famous.
Tom and I will keep doing the stuff we do, but obviously, if we sell a lot of books, it’s going to make it easier to focus on the things that really matter to us. We also want to share the things we’re passionate about, and that means finding ways to reach out to people. This is why we’re asking for help. Word of mouth advertising works. If you like what we do (and, if you’re reading this, I assume we have that one covered…) and you can find one or two other people who might like it, and they can find one or two people… this is pretty much how 50 Shades of Grey just went viral. Advertising budgets of course are nice, but what really spreads the word about a book is people who like books, talking about them.
I spent a number of years writing custom fiction. I can still do it. I also write a lot of articles as it is. So, if there’s something you’d like to see from me and are able to put somewhere, it would be a great help if we could make that happen.
And, if you have a thing you want to raise awareness for, do ask, because I’m more than happy to post things here, and to do shout outs for other people. There are always slots here for guest blogs and I’m always happy to do email interviews for other people.
I have been reading with interest Nimue's postings over the last few days on sacrifice, offerings and dedication, here http://druidlife.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/no-sacrifice/ and also Cat's words here http://druidcat.wordpress.com/ Sadly I missed Cat's original words, so can only respond to her current post.
*edited to say that Miss Cat has now re blogged her original http://druidcat.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/sacrifice-2/#comment-531
For Nimue, sacrifice is a word that she would happily see dropped from modern Druid vocabulary, evidently it doesn't float her Druid boat, and that is fine.
A few days ago I was staying with a friend who has a delightful house hidden in what, at least in British terms, is a vast forest. Surrounded by the green and grey of the summer season, the air filled with many layers of bird song, I found myself captivated by the spirit of place. Tomorrow I’ll be going into the woods again, this time in the company of two score magicians, to do our Work.
(I’ll be back with the druidic arts tomorrow, but this is on my mind so I want to run with it.)
Fate and destiny are tricky notions. As a Druid, I do not believe in one great creator deity with a grand plan for everything. As a pagan I’m conscious of ideas like the wyrd, and norns, the fates that crop up in various ancient mythologies. Certain of our ancestors do seem to have believed that destiny was in other hands. Supernatural hands at that.
On the whole, I like to think of reality as being a tapestry that we are all making, and of course, what we do now, shapes what we might be going to get. But sometimes, just sometimes, the line of causality that results in a thing happening, is so startling that I wonder. Looking back down the spider web thread that have held aspects of my life together, and the tiny decisions on which momentous things have pivoted, I wonder sometimes. On general principles I don’t like to think something else is pulling my strings, but then I look at what I’ve got, and I wonder. I thought today I’d tell you a story, a tale that is curious, and also entirely true.
About four years ago I was working on something pagan. I don’t remember what, or who it was for, but I put the search term ‘Elemental’ in, and a thing came up that wasn’t remotely what I was looking for. I think I was looking for a Damh the Bard piece on elements of Druidry. Now, normally I’m quite disciplined when working online, I focus on the job, I do not allow myself to get seduced by the many available distractions. That day, either my concentration was down, or I had a little spare time – also unusual. I cannot remember why I did what I did. I look back and wonder about hands on strings. Instead of trying another search term, I clicked play.
I remember that first hearing, the absolute strangeness, the joy of it, the laughing, the rushing to show it to other people. I had found something like nothing else. I had never seen steampunk before, or chap hop. I was enchanted. I had found Professor Elemental. Any time I was really down, or feeling lost I would go back and play the song, and feel better.
Two years ago, my lovely other half was still in America and was invited to appear at the first Steampunk World’s Faire in New Jersey. Looking at what else would be happening, we realised that ‘Professor Elemental’ was also going to be there. So I sent Tom links, and pretty much demanded that he went and at least said hello, as I wouldn’t be able to. Tom did manage to get a chat, during which the Professor’s enthusiasm for comics came to light and a Hopeless Maine bookmark changed hands. On arriving in the UK, Tom made contact with the Professor and the ideas started to flow.
I met Professor Elemental for the first time on Saturday. We’ve been corresponding for about six months now, and dabbling in some shared creativity. His first comic is out sometime around now, and we’ve just committed to doing a 6 page piece for the next one. He’s just shot a TV pilot, we’ve got an Archaia deal, publishers are already expressing interest in what we might do collaboratively. Tom will be doing an album cover, in the future (not the next one, that’s a contest).
Four years ago these things were no more than foolish daydreams. It’s easy to look at someone and think ‘oh, I love what this person does, I could do amazing things with them’. I’d stopped imagining anything like that would happen to me. And yet, these fragile spider webs of opportunity leave their little, sticky trails through the last four years, bringing me from distant admirer status, to someone who is getting to do a thing or three.
Talking in person, the three of us, getting a sense of being both on the same wavelength, and so different from each other that we can go places collectively none of us would have tried as individuals. Stood in a pub garden, overwhelmed by the sheer feeling of rightness, the absolute sense that awen is flowing now and that something is happening that really was supposed to happen.
Only, I don’t quite believe in fate, most of the time.
Dear Ms Odone.
You recently produced an article condemning the inclusion of Paganism and Druidry as part of the Religious Education syllabus in Cornish schools. You omit, though, that teaching about these faiths is not actually required, merely optional – what is required however, is that 60% of every RE course in this county must be concerned with your own faith of Christianity…
I’ve had private queries about the kind of feedback I’m looking for here, and we do get comments from some who clearly have no idea what productive criticism looks like so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to lay out my thoughts on the subject. As ever, your additions, critiques, questions and whatnot are very welcome.
I don’t personally find ‘constructive criticism’ all that helpful. By this I mean the kind of feedback where a person tells you what they think you could do to improve. There’s far too much subjective opinion in that process, and if the person providing the suggestions has totally different beliefs and objectives, the feedback can be worse than useless. On the other hand if someone says what they don’t like, and why, that’s really helpful. Equally, disagreements and reasons are very useful. I may not agree but it gives me a chance to understand. “That was a rubbish blog” is of little use. “That was a rubbish blog because you totally ignored what I think are the key issues,” is better. Tell me what the key issues are that I’ve missed, and we’re getting somewhere.
I write this blog for a number of reasons. Sometimes just for catharsis. Often to help me work through issues, or concepts that I am trying to understand. Always because I am interested in testing ideas on other people and getting responses. Of course it’s lovely when people agree with me and make warm affirming noises. But I don’t expect to get things right all the time and there is always more to any subject than I could hope to know about.
I love it when people add details, experiences, other philosophy that relates to what I’ve posted about – regardless of whether it agrees. Please, please keep these coming, they add so much and I have learned a lot from this feedback.
Please do ask questions. If something doesn’t make sense, or I’ve skimmed over an idea (inevitable really when writing small blog posts) then do poke me for more. I really enjoy writing to order, so if there are topics you’d like to see discussed, poke me, and if I can, I will. If you feel strongly about a subject and want to contribute your own post, then do get in touch. Email me, or leave a comment on the guest blogger’s page. I’m always very happy to post content from others, and if you want to express a radically different take to mine, this will be your best way of doing so.
If you know something that I don’t, and feel it casts a topic in a different light, do pile in. If you spot a logical inconsistency in my argument, comment! I want to know. If you think I’m biased, or prejudiced, or mistaken, say so, and don’t pull any punches. But do take the time to explain why, because that’s far more useful for anyone reading this blog, me included. If you disagree with my conclusions, please use the comment space to explain your own.
Where people are interested in thinking deeply and examining ideas, I welcome whatever comes, no matter how much you disagree with me. I am also open to being persuaded, (probably not in the sense of conversion to another religion entirely, but to other philosophical notions and viewpoints.) So, if your purpose is to share information and push for deeper understandings, if you are here to give, to interact, and if you don’t mind the risk of a strenuous conversation, then go for it.
I am only going to delete comments in extreme circumstances. Thus far I haven’t felt any need to – aside from the usual spam that has nothing to do with the blog. But I do believe in holding boundaries and in not encouraging people who enjoy making a nuisance of themselves. A judgement of what constitutes ‘nuisance’ will ultimately come down to me because I have control of and responsibility for this site, so it is no kind of democracy. However, the thing most likely to make me block, delete or ban is if other commenters express problems with comments. I know I am blessed with some very lovely people here who take the time to share. I want to cultivate the sense of community we have, I think, between people who blog, and comment on each other’s words. I’m not going to sacrifice that to the whims of any passing trolls.