In February the pagans celebrate “Imboic”, which seems to have a double meaning – both “ewe’s milk” and “in the belly”, describing a pregnant ewe. I love the idea of the pregnancy of early spring, the hope of better things to come, the anticipation of life.
When Brigid, the Celtic goddess, keeper of the eternal flame transformed into St Brigid, early Christian patron saint of so many creative pursuits including midwifery and poetry, we came to light candles in her name at Candlemas on the 2nd February to herald the coming of spring.
At this time of the year, the solar midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, the days noticeably lengthen. The ewes are starting to lamb, the snowdrops start to appear and the birds are building nests. It’s time for the natural world to stir from its wintry slumber and get on with its creative journey.
What, you might ask, are you on about Sue? What does this have to do with book publishing? Well, perhaps you will bear with my whimsical mood for a moment longer as I imagine to myself many a full belly out there. Perhaps not of the sheepish kind, but of human creative endeavour or, more specifically, of unborn books.
How many creative projects have been conceived in this bleakest of all winters past? Just as the lambs will inevitably arrive this spring, so will many other kinds of offspring. Those books that must come, that must be born, where there is no choice, because the natural human creative spirit has to express itself. Your ideas will be born, whether you like it or not. First kicking inside you, then pushing their way out to yell at the top of their lungs announcing their presence.
But first we must give them a start. This is where we need to give ourselves simply to the writing. To play with our words. To allow them out. To give them space and air so that they can begin to fall on to the page in any old way. They lie scattered on the page, a random set of little marks. Left inside us they mean nothing, they go nowhere. Resist the urge to count them. The number means nothing. Let them sit. Let them be. Let them breathe. Let them snuggle up with one another, or move apart. Let them do what they need to do. Just write them down and see what happens. While all this is happening your ideas will be emerging - ideas that could lead you to your book.
A book does take many hours of making, creating, crafting to reach the moment of its birth. And yet the process is a joyful, fascinating, fulfilling and momentous one. We may be stupidly busy in our day jobs. We may have a hundred and one things that we aren’t getting to on our to-do lists. And yet this I know to be true. That of all the things I’ve done this winter, it is the writing that has given me the most. When we sit down to follow through on the expression of our ideas, while they may not always be the most comfortable, they may not always be the easiest, they may even be painful and somewhat unnerving – yet it is these moments that have brought me the hope, the joy, the life, the sunshine, the knowledge of my place on this planet and the inspiration to step onward on this great journey that is life.
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