Mercury is Retrograde again

It took a comment from one of my online friends (Hippie Cahier) on another friend’s blog before I realized what was happening here.

Have you noticed a snarl in communications of late? Is your e-mail, like mine, suddenly depositing itself in the Bulk Mail folder rather than your customary Inbox? Are you finding people more quarrelsome, equipment more likely to malfunction, and your own ability to focus out-of-whack?

Me, too!

Blame Mercury going Retrograde.

Huh?

While I refuse to organize my day around the astrology column in the newspaper, I kind of enjoy reading it. Astrology, after all, is one of those ancient arts, and people since the beginning of time have turned to the stars for explanations of why things happen when and how they do.

Remember it was Astrologers from the East who were among the first visitors to the newborn Christ Child and His Family!

But as a  Catholic Christian, I realize astrology isn’t exactly “up there” with the kind of Biblical study we should be doing. Nor is it an “exact” science.

Deciding to learn more about this Mercury Retrograde thing, I did some online research.

Mercury, as we all know, is the planet closest to the Sun. It orbits the Sun once every 88 or so days and is said to rule the constellations of Gemini and Virgo (as well as the folks, like yours truly, who were born under one of those astrological signs).

“Retrograde” is a term astrologers use to describe a planet’s apparent backward motion through the zodiac. Planets don’t actually travel backwards; it’s only that they appear to be doing so.

Mercury rules communication, commerce, thinking, education, and transportation. People who must use their minds (writers, consultants, teachers, salespeople, orators) also come under Mercury’s rule.

So when Mercury goes Retrograde, we see a rise in misunderstandings between people, a disruption in negotiations, breakdowns of phones and computers, and other snags — all because some key component has gone missing (Mercury being the little trickster he is!). Astrologers are quick to advise us not to make important decisions or do anything requiring clear, logical thinking during this period (which runs from Aug. 3 through Sept. 9).

So, to all my writer friends, maybe it’s not Writer’s Block. Let’s just blame it on Mercury Retrograde!

Writing

It’s been almost a month now since I attended an Editors’ Intensive, sponsored by Writer’s Digest at their Cincinnati headquarters. To say it was a wonderful experience doesn’t cover the half of it!

Writing can be a lonely occupation. Those uninformed folks who announce they love to write and they’re “working on a book” just don’t have a clue. While there are as many “types” of writers as there are books, magazines, poems, Web sites, etc., and while there are many personalities of writers, this isn’t a business for the faint-of-heart. You really have to believe in your craft and your talent; you have to steel yourself against the criticisms and rejections that surely come your way; you have to spend a lot of time working when others are tugging at you to play. And most of us have to do it all while pursuing gainful employment elsewhere AND raising a family!

How’s that for sacrifice?

Still, for me at least, writing is as necessary as breathing. I’ve been putting down my thoughts since I was able to hold a pencil — first, in silly rhymes, then in a multitude of essay contests, diaries, newspaper stories, short stories, and now, novels. The first time I was able to type “The End” after penning a novel-length work was a feeling I’ll never forget! It reminded me of something I read in one of Mary Higgins Clark’s mysteries — “The work is finished; now let the writer play”, or something to that effect.

Of course, we writers can’t “play” long. Some story is always noodling around, and when it starts screaming to get out, you know it’s back to the computer and back to work.

One of the interesting things about our writing conference was the camaraderie that comes when you’re in a group of like-minded people. Just to know there are others like you — people who live in two worlds, people for whom storytelling is an art and there’s no such thing as a yes/no conversation — well, it’s a relief! It’s going to be even more interesting to watch the progress of our group, to see who continues when the going gets tough, to be able to go into Barnes & Noble one day, pick up a new book, and say, “Wow, I know this author!”

Most of us conference-attendees now have added blogging to our daily routines (at the encouragement of the Writer’s Digest staff, of course!). At first, I was a little reluctant — I mean, who really wants the public to read your private thoughts? But as I’ve gotten more into the spirit of the thing, I’ve found that blogging truly helps me organize my ideas and kind of serves as a “warm-up” for my fiction writing. It eases me out of the “blank page quandary” that many writers face, forcing me to shun the excuse of “writer’s block.”

In fact, a dear friend gave me a wooden pen & pencil holder with the words “Writer’s Block” prominently displayed on the side; that’s what she, and now I, think about “block.”

Basically, it just comes down to what all of us –deep down — know. Put your butt in the chair and don’t get up until you’ve written something. Do that often enough, and you’ll become a better writer. Do that consistently, and you might get published. Do that, and who knows? You might get to meet Oprah!!