Tag Archives: Intelligent Designing for Amateurs

Druid for sale

If you find this post about the time it was written, then Druidry and Meditation is still on sale in ebook form. A mere 99p on the English Kindle site  or $1.65 on the American site. Otherwise, console yourself with a freebie! More of that later…

Druidry and Meditation offers a range of creative, and engaging approaches to meditation, looking at how it impact on body, and mind as well as the spiritual dimensions. There are guides to creating your own meditations and there’s information about group work, and meditation in ritual. There is also a paper version.

My other Druid title, Druidry and the Ancestors is also available from all the sorts of places you might normally buy books.  This is the amazon.com link if you get the urge to have a look. Ancestors are an uncomfortable subject for many people, and for Pagans there are all kinds of extra complexities. Not least, most of us have a lot of non-Pagans between us and our Pagan ancestors. This is very much a book about the stories we tell of our ancestors and how those stories inform our lives. At least, that’s what I was aiming for!  It’s not a how-to sort of book, more a selection of ideas to play with.

I have a smaller and broader book, in the form of Spirituality without Structure – amazon uk link this time. This is very much a tiny book with big ideas, exploring the difference between religion as a social structure, and spirituality as personal experience. It’s written primarily for people who are trying to carve out their own path – so often the way of it for Pagans. It’s a book of approaches, no dogmatic how-tos, just questions to ask and things to consider that might spare a person from re-inventing the wheel.

Then with my other, far less serious hat on, there’s quite a bit of fiction out there too. Intelligent Designing for Amateurs  is a bit of a Steampunk riot. There are comedy Druids – mostly inspired by the crazy revival folk, so if you’ve been a bit depressed by our actual ancestors of tradition and need a giggle, this one may be for you. Other fictions also exist, if you poke around in my amazon stuff there is also Hunting the Egret and a bundle of short stories.

Hopeless Maine is a gothic graphic novel series I do with my other half. It’s Tom’s work adorning the blog, including the cover for Druidry and the Ancestors. If you’d like to explore the world of Hopeless freely, then www.hopelessmaine.com has the first two books in webcomic form. For more Tom Brown, you can check out his deviant art page.

Finally, if you’d like some poetry, saunter over to this bit of Druid Life  and there are two poetry collections – Beyond the Map and Lost Bards and Dreamers which are free to download as pdfs.

Official book release day!

Although Intelligent Designing for Amateurs has been available in the UK for a couple of weeks now, this is official release day, and amazon.com will now let you get paper copies. http://www.amazon.com/Intelligent-Designing-Amateurs-Nimue-Brown/dp/1780999526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369989320&sr=8-1&keywords=intelligent+designing+for+amateurs (and just to confuse everyone, is now saying the release date was the 16th May. Go figure!)

Just to tempt you a bit, here’s one of the bits that owes a lot to revival Druids. It was whilst reading Ronald Hutton’s ‘Blood and Mistletoe’ that it occurred to me that actual history of revival Druidry seems a lot like a Monty Python sketch, with the costumes, titles, claims of ancientness. Which led me to this…

The parlour was overfull of familiar and overdressed women when Justina and her mother were shown in. She looked around despondently, taking in the grotesque excess of decoration on women far too old to carry such girlish extravagance. They clucked and preened like so many hens, the bulk of their skirts filling up the spaces between closely packed items of furniture. Why it was felt desirable to squeeze so many warmly dressed people into such a confined space, Justina had never understood. It was one of the features of her life that had greatly hampered her social development – she simply did not enjoy being pressed against a large number of other people in the confines of heavily furnished rooms.

A gentleman with exceptional moustaches leapt at once to his feet. He appeared to be wearing a white night gown with rather elaborate embroidery at the collar and cuffs. Seeing him only increased the terrible urge she had been feeling to scream, and run away. Before she could plan an escape, Mrs. Easlefeet hurried forwards to make introductions.

“Ah, my dear, my dear, I must present this young lady to you,” she began.

Justina loathed her for that. The person of greater social status was asked first, and she could not, possibly, be of lesser consideration than a man who went about in public in a nightgown?
“This is Justina Fairfax, dear Elizobella’s daughter. Justina, this is none other than the ArchDruid Henry Caractacus Morestrop Jones!”

As Mrs. Easelfeet continued with an incomprehensible list of further titles, ArchDruid Henry indulged in some complex hand maneuvering and offered her his services.

“Founder of the Brotherhood of Restrained Enlightenment, and current leader of the Truly Venerable Order of English Druids,” he added.

Justina took a few careful steps backwards whilst saying, “How charming.” She had only encountered Druids once before, at a meeting of the Society of Archaeology an Antiquities. A lecture about whether the Romans might have constructed on Stonehenge had been disrupted by a man, dressed entirely in clothes made from the skins of very small mammals. He had entered without invitation, stood upon a table, waved a sword about and made a wholly unfathomable speech about classical geometry at ancient sites.

Just as she as paused to flee this current scene of dismay, Mrs Fairfax commenced exalting Justina’s many virtues as an antiquarian scholar. With her reputation the new topic of conversation, escape seemed less appealing.

“I myself have a great interest in the ancient times,” the strangely dressed man announced. He had the kind of voice that would even whisper loudly. “The Truly Venerable Order of English Druids has written records going back to before even the Roman invasion. Our oldest manuscripts are known to be the work of Taliesin himself.”

He paused, and Justina knew she was supposed to be impressed by his claims. Certainly such documents had the power to re-write English history, and that made her very suspicious. It was amazing how many bored gentlemen and obscure vicars turned out to have ancient manuscripts stashed in their attics.

Fire in the head

I used to improvise and wing things a lot, in rituals, and musically. There was a time when I’d happily go out with a violin and play music I didn’t know, with strangers, and mostly get away with it. It takes a certain amount of nerve. I think you could do that from a place of arrogance or self confidence, but for me what mostly enable the winging of things, was a deep belief in the awen. I’d open my heart, and the words would come, or the notes, or whatever I needed creatively in the moment. It never failed me. Mostly I just experienced the inspiration as happening to me, a force rushing through me, and I never felt much ownership of the things I did.

Life changes and a loss of nerve have meant I’ve not been out winging it as much in the last few years. Hardly at all, in fact. I draw on inspiration to write, but that’s usually a slow and private process. If it doesn’t work, no one else will ever know. Winging it in public is totally exposed and vulnerable, any shortcomings made visible. It’s one thing to go out and feel that you’re balancing on a tightrope the awen holds steady, and quite another to feel like you can’t. Depression and anxiety are not aids to the flow of inspiration. They are serious blocks, and anxiety makes it hard to just go out there and do it and trust that you can.

I had some unexpected jamming in a pub with some guys about a month ago. That helped me feel like I could just leap in and do those improvised things again. Yesterday I really took the plunge. If you read the blog – here – about Intelligent Designing, I proposed to write limericks for anyone who shared either the blog or the link. I had quite a few link shares on facebook yesterday (thank you everyone who joined in) and was rapidly churning out silly limericks that included people’s names. Exposed enough to feel a bit edgy, hidden behind the computer enough to feel a bit safe.

So much of creativity is actually about trust. Trusting yourself that the skills are there and you can do it. Trusting the inspiration to flow. Trusting people not to bring over ripe fruit and throw it at you… It’s always a bit of a leap into the dark. It always feels a bit risky, and I realise that I’d become risk averse in a way that was restricting what I could do. I need to learn how to trust myself again, and how to trust the inspiration. Yesterday went well.

If you fancy having a play, pop the book link http://www.amazon.com/Intelligent-Designing-Amateurs-Nimue-Brown/dp/1780999526/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1368694639&sr=8-1&keywords=intelligent+designing+for+amateurs on the site of your choice, and let me know – I’m on facebook, @brynneth_nimue, I’m on Google+ and linkedin and if you reblog to another wordpress one I can spot that. If in doubt poke me here or some other place…

Of life and risk

I’ve spent this morning putting in a tout to a publisher to see if I can find a home for the new steampunk novel, Intelligent Designing for Amateurs (it’s got comedy Druids in it). This never gets easier. I’ve been sending books and stories places for more than ten years now, and it always scares me witless. Yesterday I had a flash fiction rejection. Every time I go round a ‘no’ I wonder if I should quit. Every time.

By the time I was twenty three I had a rejection slip from every major publishing house in the UK to my name. This tends to be the way of it with first novels. Looking back, I have no idea how that didn’t stop me. I suppose I was young, and enthusiastic and not quite so easily crushed. Oddly enough, these things seem to get harder as I get older, not easier. We went round it with Hopeless Maine before Archaia took us in. The waiting, the hoping and the anxiety and then either progress, or another blow. Do not let anyone tell you that the life of an author is inherently easy. The rejection process knocks the will to write out of plenty of good people. Being a good writer is not a sure fire way of becoming a published writer.

Getting up to speak in public, is risk. I’ve never had an audience throw fruit, but there’s always a first time! Sharing an act of creativity is risk, and always invites rejection, criticism, negativity. Stick your head above the parapet in any capacity, and some git will take pot shots at you.

The other way is safer, easier. The path of no risk. Nothing ventured, nothing lost. It’s there, all the time, as an option. Every time I float a blog out into the world, every time I try anything, there is always the option of fail. For a writer, there is no choice to do, or do not (as Yoda would put it) there is only try, or don’t try. There are never any guarantees.

This week for extra anxiety value, I’ve been writing someone else’s character. Now, from a creative point of view, I love doing this. Salamandra (from Hopeless Maine) was Tom’s before I took on giving her a voice. Getting into someone else’s head, trying to grasp the essence of someone else’s voice and style – these are wonderful, creative challenges. Then comes the time of reckoning, when you turn it in and find out if they hate it. I’m waiting to hear on one of those too. If I was a nail chewer, I’d probably be down to the wrists by now!

Every time I think about choosing the other way, the easy way, I remind myself that there are options. You can live without exposing your soul to people. You can go through life without pouring your heart’s blood into projects only for others to disparage them. There are always easy options. Every time I run up against the doubts, I come back to the same, very simple thought: the easy option would be death to me.

There is only ‘try’.