Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Origins of the Written Remains Mini WriMo

My writers' guild, the Written Remains Writers Guild, is hosting a Mini WriMo in November. A mini WriMo is a mini writing month.

Why are we hosting a mini writing month during the same month when the infamous NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaNoLand madness is in full swing?

Sounds like a crazy idea, doesn't it? Yes, but maybe not so much. Here's why.

In November 2008, I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I wrote to victory with a 50,000 word literary crime / mystery novel. I'm a slow and precise writer, so it was hard. And while I'm glad I participated and "won" and there were a lot of things I liked about NaNoWriMo, there were also a lot of things I didn't like.

Let's start with what I liked about NaNoWriMo:

-- Intentionally dedicating time to focus on one's writing.

-- A community of writers all working together toward the same goal.

-- A centralized on-line location where participants "meet" and report progress.

-- The feeling of freedom when writing for quantity not quality.

-- The feeling of achievement as one's word count grows each day.

-- Daily / Weekly inspiration from the organizers and other writers.

-- Local "meet ups" for local NaNoWriMo participants.

Now, what I didn't like about NaNoWriMo:

-- The "kamikaze" approach of dedicating just thirty days to write a novel -- do or die.

-- The ridgid structure of NaNoWriMo (must be a new novel, no works-in-progress).

-- The results of writing for quantity rather than quality.

-- The high percentage of writers who become discouraged in the first week.

-- The rapidity with which a writer can become a "loser" through no fault of their own, i.e.
illness, emergencies, work and daily life events, etc. and never recover.

-- The feeling of deflation at the realization that large chunks of the novel are useless.

-- The amount of time required to revise and edit the rough draft of a NaNo novel.

While I survived my NaNoWriMo and "completed" a 50,000 word novel, I didn't really enjoy the experience. And that, perhaps, is what bothers me the most. It is also why I doubt that I will participate in NaNoWriMo again.

However, in August of 2010, I did participate in a Page-a-Day challenge hosted by the Jungle Red Writers on their blog Writing Well Is the Best Revenge.

The Written Remains MiniWriMo is a mashup of NaNoWriMo and the Page-A-Day challenge with a more flexible structure and less rigid "rules." I created MiniWriMo as a way for writers to not only dedicate time to focus on their work, but to develop a habit of working every day producing quality writing in a community of writers that offers a way for those writers to stick together even after November has passed. And, I hope it will be a little easier, as well as being more satisfying in the long run and more fun, too.

1,667 words x 30 days = 50,010 words (month of November)

The Written Remains MiniWriMo
250 words x 30 days = 7, 500 words (month of November)
250 words x 365 days = 91,250 words (one year of a Page-A-Day)

There are a lot of people who don't finish NaNoWriMo. Year after year they try and don't finish. There are a lot of unfinished NaNo novels out there.

And, to be fair, there are a lot of people who do finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words. But they don't have a whole book or a cohesive storyline. Many of these novels are never revised or edited.

I love the idea of NaNoWriMo, but I want a better outcome. And I bet there are other writers out there that do, too. Will the Written Remains MiniWriMo give a better outcome? I hope so, but we won't know for sure until we try.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Black Feathers in the Sky

Follow the Green Lane to Nowhere deep into a haunted wood on a moonless night ... and this is what you'll find  ...

Ed Harcourt - Black Feathers Official Music Video by DovecoteRecords

Ed Harcourt's Black Feathers from the EP "Russian Roulette."

Love it ... love it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Book Review: L.M. Browning's Oak Wise

Review of L.M. Browning’s Oak Wise: Poetry Exploring an Ecological Faith by J.M. Reinbold

There is no denying that Oak Wise is beautifully written. L.M. Browning is unusually skilled in the poet’s art. However, there are other features of Oak Wise that I particularly appreciated as well. The first is the author’s Introduction to the book: “Ancient Ways in a Modern World.” This, along with the glossary are alone worth the price of the book and do an admirable job of orienting the non-pagan reader to the great journey that is to come.

For more than anything, Oak Wise is a journey, a journey away from formal religion and a return to the ancient spiritual ways of the Green World. In the reading of this book, I was reminded of two archetypal journeys: The mythic Hero’s Journey and the cyclical journey of the Tarot Fool or Innocent Seeker, who having passed through a series of “illuminations” returns to where he began, now as the Wise Fool or Initiated Seeker, having gained the knowledge that his journey is never ending and that he is now actively and consciously participating in the Eternal Return. Having made this perilous journey herself, L.M. Browning takes her readers by the hand and leads them through Oak Wise allowing them to acutely experience her excitement, sorrow, and joy as she overcomes obstacles and passes through trials that culminate in the revitalization of her soul and spirit.

As a bard and Otherworld journeyer, it is not surprising that the sections of Oak Wise that most appealed to me were “Walking Between the Worlds – A Shaman’s Story” and “The Duties of the Bard.” For these two, the shaman and the bard, sometimes one and the same person, are the collectors, keepers and carriers of ancient wisdom, and when that wisdom is lost to a people, they are the fearless souls who are sent to retrieve it. L.M. Browning was called. She answered that call and has proved to be both brave and able in her mission. Oak Wise is the proof of it.

Oak Wise is richly expressive of the universal need to return to the practices of Earth keeping and of Earth honoring; of reconnecting with the deep spirituality and wisdom of Green World and of listening for and relearning the secret speech of the Green Language, which once heard and understood is never forgotten; of opening our bodies, minds, souls to all that we’ve lost in our headlong rush into industrialism and in our flight from the life-giving land to the lifeless concrete. Oak Wise is gentle, yet unrelenting in its exhortation of us to return to the land and a more conscious, spiritually engaged way of life.

Some pagan readers might find Oak Wise, despite its title, not pagan enough. But therein lies another and deeper strength of this book. It is accessible to many readers from all walks of life and experience. Oak Wise expresses its wisdom in ways and verse that a reader unaccustomed to reading poetry or unfamiliar with Celtic Shamanism or Celtic Spirituality can easily apprehend. And that is the test of a true bard.

L. M. Browning's next book in this series, Ruminations at Twilight , will be released on August 29, 2010 from Little Red Tree Press.

-- Review by JM Reinbold

J.M. Reinbold is an author, editor and the director of the Written Remains Writers Guild. She is the author of Cernunnos, Ancient Celtic God and other works of fiction and non-fiction.

Written Remains Writers Guild Blog site

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Sacred Circle

Those of you who follow this blog have seen images I've used from the Sacred Circle tarot as illunstrations for some of my posts. You may have guessed by the frequency that I both write about and display images from Sacred Circle that it is my favorite deck.

I don't use tarot cards in the "conventional" way or, I suppose, in the way most people think of tarot cards being used, as a fortune telling device. Nor do I read cards for other people. It is not my intention to offend anyone when I say that I don't believe in using tarot cards for these purposes. I say this only for myself. I happen to believe that the power is in the person not in the cards. However, I do believe tarot cards, ones with which a person strongly resonates, can be a powerful tool for self exploration, increasing self awareness, and for developing one's inner sight,or the Sight as it is often called.

And with the development of one's Sight, the cards become a powerul conduit for the seeking of a personal omen or one's wyrd at Calan Gaeaf (Samhain), also called the hinge of the year.

I thought you might like to view this wonderful vid of some of the most arresting images from the Sacred Circle tarot.

** You can use the link to Sacred Circle on the main blog page to visit Anna Franklin's website and experience more of her wonderful work.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blessed Imbolc (Nos Gwyl Fair)

Imbolc ...
from the belly of the Mother

Ice crack    fertile earth

breathe ... birth

the Celestial Midwife sings

Her cauldron spills forth

new life

answers her Song

Copyright 2010 by JM Reinbold

** The picture symbolizing the holy day of Imbolc is the "Star" card -- depicting Arianrhod's celestial Spiral Castle at the center of the labyrinth of stars -- from the gorgeous Sacred Circle Tarot by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason. You can use the link to Sacred Circle on the main blog page to visit Anna Franklin's website and experience more of her wonderful work.