Stock-taking, Roast Pork, and Exposition

As the end of the calendar year draws to a close, and as the pagan New Year begins, I have been taking some time to indulge in both some stocktaking and some metacognition, mainly inspired by Imbrium over at http://ladyimbriumsholocron.wordpress.com and her thought-provoking posts.

(She’s also far more punctilious in updating her blog. Mea maxima culpa.)

I am ending another year of life, for which I am thankful. I have done a lot of good things this year (adopted two kittens, bought a house, wrote 50,000 words of my novel, etc) and a lot of not-so-good things (still in the same soul-crushingly boring job, still haven’t finished the novel, had a falling-out with my family), but I am still here, and I am still alive. Yes, I’ve dealt with a roof that leaks, a window that needs to be replaced, cutting down part of a tree before it fell on the neighbor’s house, but it’s our house.

Tomorrow, I meet with someone for the first time to show them an early draft of my novel and get their feedback and critique. This is the first time I have done this since college. For those of you who don’t know, I am a raging-bordering-on-obsessive perfectionist. I never think my work is as polished as it could be. I always see ways it could be improved. Showing someone who is completely unfamiliar with my characters my work for the first time actually has me a bit…apprehensive. I know that mechanically my work is near-perfect. What I am worried about are the more intangible things- is my world believable? Are my characters engaging? Would anyone want to read this?

I must face this fear, because there was someone in my NaNo writing group who struck me with what she said about her own work. Paraphrased, she said the following:

I just wrote this story for myself. I took the five free copies that we got from (insert name of website) and they are sitting on my shelf. I don’t want anyone to ever read it…but I am still a writer!

To me, she is not a writer, because writers write for others to read. This is why I think I did not fit in well with my NaNo group. I am writing to be a writer- I have stories that need to be told, and I know there are those out there who want to read them. I did NaNo as a way to make myself focus back on my writing, not because “I wanna write a novel!” To start with, 50,000 words is not a novel, it’s a novella. But that’s neither here nor there. I will face my fears with a pounding heart and a calm, fixed mind. 

On to happier thoughts.

I am roasting a crown roast of pork tonight, in honor of the season. I’ve never done it before, but hey, it’s pork. Pork and I get along real well. Oddly enough, last night I dreamed of cooking pork- but I had to find this certain set of dishes to serve it in- a set of blue-and-white porcelain plates that portrayed the Norns.

The Norns (Old Norse: norn, plural: nornir) in Norse mythology[1] are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in Greek mythology.

According to Snorri Sturluson‘s interpretation of the Völuspá, the three most important norns, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld come out from a hall standing at the Well of Urðr (well of fate) and they draw water from the well and take sand that lies around it, which they pour over Yggdrasill so that its branches will not rot.[2] These norns are described as three powerful maiden giantesses (Jotuns) whose arrival from Jötunheimr ended the golden age of the gods.[2] They may be the same as the maidens of Mögþrasir who are described in Vafþrúðnismál .[2]

Beside these three norns, there are many other norns who arrive when a person is born in order to determine his or her future.[2] There were both malevolent and benevolent norns, and the former caused all the malevolent and tragic events in the world while the latter were kind and protective goddesses.[2] Recent research has discussed the relation between the myths associated with norns and valkyries and the actual travelling Völvas (seiðr-workers), women who visited newborn children in the pre-Christian Norse societies.[3]

^From Wikipedia.

This was crucial to the meal- I couldn’t even start until I found these dishes. I found myself in my paternal grandmother’s kitchen, digging through her cupboards, but they weren’t there. I knew not to go to my maternal grandmother’s house, because she wouldn’t have such things and wouldn’t understand why they were important. Same goes for my mother’s kitchen. My father may have had them, but his kitchen got broken up shortly after his passing, so I wouldn’t have an idea where to find them. I found dishes with Thor, and Odin, and Freya, and gods and goddesses I didn’t recognize, but none with the Norns on them. Unfortunately, before I could find them, one of the aforementioned kittens decided at that moment to pounce on my head and demand I refill his water bowl in this world, so I woke up before I could find the dishes.

I don’t follow a particularly Nordic variety of paganism; I don’t have any Scandanavian blood in my family that I am aware of; I’ve never felt called to the Nordic ways. So maybe it was just a dream about cooking pork and being obsessive about everything being perfect. I did mention that, right?

Considering what Darien and I both wished for on Solstice night, this may be a good thing..or it may be a bad thing…or it may be just a Thing. I’m going to watchfully wait and see. Candles are lit, and my hearth is open to any deities who would care to visit.

Blessings from the West, the land of playful winds, emerald trees, and sapphire waters tipped in ice.

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4 Responses to Stock-taking, Roast Pork, and Exposition

  1. ladyimbrium says:

    The best thing about being online when you post updates: I can comment immediately and feel like a creepy stalker. lol.

    Also, shoutout! I am most humbled and appreciative- or at least as humble as I ever get.

    Interesting dream, you have there. I’m not particularly Nordic myself- although to look through the contact list on my phone or large portions of my friends list on the Failbook, Heathens… heathens everywhere! Apparently, those who see want your attention. Or perhaps it was just a dream. Who knows.

  2. scoutlady13 says:

    I’d like to think it was another illuminating moment like the one about the shade of the sapphire, but damn my pragmatism.

    If I knew what to offer them (I’m not Odin, I can’t hang for nine days by the neck/give them one of my eyes in exchange for wisdom) I would do it. However, a good meal is rarely not appreciated, so I offer my labors in the kitchen, which is the sacred space in my world, as an offering to the Norns and any other beneficent deities who are in need of a pleasant meal in the dark times.

  3. Steve Tanner says:

    I must first remark that I also have found Lady Imbrium to be an excellent source of inspiration. Secondly, you covered a lot of ground in a short piece, weaving many elements together well. You did this so well that I was absolutely astonished to discover at the end that you do not recognize the significance of your dream. I suspect you are being far too punctilious.

    Step back to get a view of the overall picture you paint here. Read this piece like it is someone else’s writing. You start by reflecting on the events of the year that has just passed and flow easily into discussing your feelings about the near future and your passion: your writing. You appear to abruptly abandon this train of thought for the subject of cooking and a dream. What difference is there between weaving elements together to create a culinary delight or a literary delight, though?

    You start with a review of what Destiny dealt you, only to wonder what she may have waiting for you in the near future. Blurring the reality of cooking with the dream of cooking seemed an excellent device, but it seems to have affected your vision. From what little of your writing I have read thus far, the lengthy paragraph after the Wikipedia quote seems out of character for you. I can certainly identify with the very human wondering in the final paragraphs, which is also a good literary device for connecting with (engaging) the reader.

    I realize the nature of this piece is that of a journal entry, rather than creative writing. However, that is what makes this speak so loudly to me. It suggests talent to me. However, it seems to need a better ending. To that end, allow me to make a small offering.

    I am not of the Nordic persuasion myself; I follow a Celtic (Cymric) path. I find my adventure in learning about the ways and beliefs of others, and the Heathen ways are quite fascinating in their simple elegance. While I cannot speak with any authority in such beliefs, I do feel confident in making one remark about this dream matter before you: “Nobody truly lives unless they drink deeply and passionately from the Well of Wyrd.”

  4. ladyimbrium says:

    I offer that Steve Tanner is himself an excellent source of inspiration. Given that most of the Heathens I’ve met seem to have a strong appreciation for the physical world, I’m guessing that good food would be well-received by most of the deities and deity-ish along that path. The Norns are concerned with fate and destiny, arguably not the same thing but related, and it looks like you couldn’t move on to the next part until you had acknowledged some greater destiny. Either that or whatever the next step is will be along the path (quite literally on the dish) of destiny.

    Just a thought after taking a break from the internets and looking again with fresh eyes.

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