Monday, 23 September 2013

Random Spring Musings

Another Body Mind Spirit Festival is over.  As always, I'm left with things to mull over.

Some things have come from the festival and some have come from other things going on in my life right now.

As always, I love to meet the people who read this blog and follow our internet presence.  I love it when those people come up to me and tell me that they liked my post on this or that, or that they bought a Kyphi incense from us through Trade Me and absolutely love it.

I'm always a little surprised by this and I do feel a little weird. When I am writing, I'm sitting at my computer, in my home in the lovely North Canterbury rural countryside.  I have no real idea of audience.  There are all the masses of "internet people" that I'm in contact with.  Some I don't think I'll ever get the opportunity to meet face to face but I still have a relationship with. There are my friends who read, comment (although usually they comment on the links I put up on facebook) and sometimes we chat about my posts over the phone.  But mostly, when I'm writing, I feel as though I'm talking to myself in a thinking aloud kind of way.

So it is a bit weird when someone I've never met before tells me that they were looking forward to meeting me because they follow my stuff.  It's also a little weird when someone that I've gotten to know through Coffee Meets and Festivals asks about how things are going in relation to things they've read in this and my other blog.

It's weird in a good way, but still a bit weird for me.  Sometimes I consider the impact of my words but a lot of the time I really don't.  This was brought home to me when I did a reading for someone I'd read for a year earlier.  She said "I was thinking recently about what you said last time". Well bugger.  That messed with my head for a while.  I talk a lot.  I try to explain and illustrate some of the points I'm trying to make in a reading.  It hadn't occurred to me that the person I'm reading for might take away the things I say and be still pondering them a year later.  That feels like a weight of responsibility in an aspect that I hadn't considered.

The task I believe the Gods have set before me is to make people think for themselves and question everything.  That includes everything I write which leads to the next thing I'm musing about.

My book.

I've gotten Luana's edits back.  I've reviewed them and made some changes and there are some we need to discuss.  The publisher tells me I can have it in time for Christmas if I can get it to them by the end of the month.

I spent a few months staring at my manuscript, making the odd tweak here and there, having a few down moments where I believed it all to be shallow and naive and a few arrogant moments where I insulted anyone who was going to read the book.  I couldn't think of anything to add that needed saying or that would be of value to the overall book.

Until I sent it to Luana.  In the last couple of weeks before she sent it back, I thought of several very salient points that I'd missed.  One I'd always intended to include but somehow had missed it completely and then missed that I missed it.  Others were things I should have thought of, but just didn't.

This makes me nervous about what else I may have forgotten that I'll only think of once it's published.

I'm also part of a group that fights Pagan Plagiarism and Copyright theft.  Recently, one of our members stumbled across a group that had over 400 books for download in their file section.  Every single one was still under copyright.  That this was blatantly illegal and harming the authors was raised with the group.  There were excuses made of "I got all of these as public domain, so it's okay" and "I'm just trying to help people and make things easier" and "so a library is wrong too then?"  Then it turned nasty.

If you aren't sure what constitutes Copyright theft, piracy or fair use; Fyre Lyte Rioter made an excellent blog post explaining it all here.  And it's worth reading through the comments, there is a wealth of links and information as well as common objections too.

In despair, many authors and publishing firms were contacted.  Suddenly group membership swelled with the addition of a lot of well-known Pagan authors.  All of whom explained (patiently to begin with) that this was illegal, these files must be removed or legal action will follow.  Then it got really nasty.  A pirate site was named with the comment "why bother, you can get all of this from here". (I am deliberately NOT naming the site btw).

I went to have a look at this pirate site.  I saw the brag page about all the legal threats they've received, including the copies of all of the cease and desist letters and legal correspondence.  These threats came from Microsoft, Disney and Warner Bros to name just a few.  This site also brags that they have removed 0 torrents and will remove 0 torrents - regardless of the threats.

So I agonised over whether I wanted to expose myself to that kind of thing.  I know I'll never be rich from writing books but to have a little to make it okay for me not to have a 'real job' and not put so much pressure on my husband would be ideal.  If that little is being sucked up because someone can download it for free (and believe that they're doing nothing wrong) where would that leave me?

There is also a feeling of naked vulnerability with publishing.  I write all sorts of things here but I can edit or delete them.  I can refine the post if there's something I've missed or something that is too offensive.  I can tidy up little mistakes, I can make it easier to understand a point that was vague.

I can't do that with a book.  Once it's out there, it's out there.  I can't recall the copies to fix or reword something and I can't remove a chapter that may get taken the wrong way and expose me to abuse.

I want it out there, but I'm feeling a bit afraid too. This is one of my "feel the fear and do it anyway" moments.

The last thing I'm going to ponder out loud here is PaganFest.

As many of you know, we're holding our 'annual' PaganFest in January.  I handed out plenty of fliers to people over the weekend.  My wonderful helpers popped them in bags with sales too.  We all talked to stall holders, to interested people and to anyone who'd listen about PaganFest.

Many people were keen and said they'd be there or they'd try to make it.  Sounds wonderful.  Except this happens every time.  Everyone is really keen when they hear about it.  Everyone tells us that they'll be there, that they can't wait and that this is the kind of thing they'd been wanting to see in our region.  Somehow, that ends up being maybe two new people each time.

There are people who run it down - stuff gets back to me you know.  Of the four people running it down that I can think of off the top of my head:
  • One has never been to anything we've run.  Ever.  In fact, I held the first ever conversation I've had with this person yesterday.  I've heard plenty of what they've said about me though.
  • One has been to one PaganFest.  The people associated with that person expected us to bend over backwards for them, mucked us around, insulted most of the other attendees and have the cheek to bitch about it afterwards.
  • One attended one PaganFest (a different one).  I think she expected to be treated as a celebrity but she took drugs, made a total fool of herself and insulted not only us loudly and repeatedly throughout, but everyone else attending.  And then started shit-stirring and trying to cause trouble afterwards when most people saw through her tragic and pathetic little empire building attempts and games.
  • The last became the Festival's pariah at the one PaganFest he attended.  His understanding of social etiquettes was a bit lacking, but his ritual etiquette was non-existent. 

This all reminds me of when I first started to run coffee meets.  I tried, but didn't like the way it worked and then began to run them under the NZ Pagan Centre.  The first coffee meet consisted entirely of myself and four friends in the corner of an empty pub.  The second coffee meet was attended by a local Pagan Shop owner.  She came along because she'd been told that all we did was sit around and backbite everyone else in the community and wanted to sort us out.  Given that the only attendees to the only previous one had been friends, there'd been no chance of eavesdroppers and we ended up making plans for an open sabbat and talking about what our kids had been up to, I was rather baffled and at the time horrified as to how she'd heard what she did.  It was like being in High School again.  Unfounded rumours and needless trouble making.  I'm saddened that adults and alleged Elders are still capable of this kind of behaviour.

We would love to see more people come to our PaganFest but don't want anyone to feel pressured.  Please don't tell me you'll be there if you have no intention of going.  It's your loss, not mine and saying what you think you should say to make me feel better just doesn't work with me.

If you hear stuff about it, check with us.  I can put you in contact with people who have attended every single one and are brutally honest about our failings and our successes.



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