“Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.” Tao te Ching, 1
In 1992, when I completed the draft of my first novel, I was shrouded in darkness during a New England blizzard. I wrote the final lines of my story, Night Terrors, by candlelight just minutes before midnight on December 13. That was before the World Wide Web, social media, and online networking would make everything possible, anywhere, at any time.
Still, even without all of the distractions of the online world, the extra darkness caused by the blizzard provided me the focus I needed to type that final chapter on a manual typewriter. An hour later, in front of a lingering fire, my housemates, Maggie and Pinky, toasted the accomplishment with more than a few glasses of Courvoisier. Maggie shared some stories of her own as we drank in the growing darkness, and I realized that, when the busy pulse of life stills and we are left with nothing more than the beats of our own hearts, there are deep stories to be told, to be absorbed, to be remembered.
Those days are now hard to come by. I find that, as a writer, I am easily distracted by the incessant stream of news, updates, stories looking for “likes” and hits. It’s all so intoxicating – in a very different way, and though most of it is important to me and matters because it is important to you, it isn’t helping me get to those deeper stories that I need to tell, those deeper stories that I want – need – to share with all of you.
So, it’s time to turn the clock back and return to that farm house on Main Street in South Natick, Massachusetts. I’m creating my own blizzard blackout, and for good reason.
I am about to embark on a 105-day journey to finish Fossil Five. During these 105 days, I will be immersed in what I am calling The Darkness, as I leave social media entirely and direct my focus on preparing the manuscript for publication on Friday, November 13, 2015. (Everybody is invited, by the way. I hope you can make it.)
The Darkness begins June 16 and ends September 28. It includes logging out of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn during that time. I will still be blogging here at The Baltimore Writer, writing specifically about my progress in finishing Fossil Five. Those posts (like this one) will get pushed to Facebook and Twitter, though I won’t be monitoring any conversations that might evolve from their postings.
This personal journey is necessary, and the timing could not be better aligned with the new moon on June 16. Lately, I have been facing many struggles with character development and their evolution through the story. I have been baffled by why this has been so hard to do.
Now, I can’t pretend to be an expert on moon phases and planet alignments, but I’ve done a little research about what’s been going on up there in the Big Sky. What I have learned is that my struggles could be due to the fact that Mercury has been in retrograde, and as a result, I haven’t been able to act on what I have learned or planned from earlier in the year. It seems like a lot of people have been struggling with that in their own way as well.
Simply put, I haven’t been able to make the physical, emotional, or even spiritual changes necessary to manifest, or act upon, what I know I need to do for the book.
All of that changes on Tuesday, June 16.
What’s the big deal about June 16?
Last week, I reached out to my writing Constant, Jodi Cleghorn, who lives in Australia. I asked her for some guidance about why I had been struggling, and I expressed the need to enter a period of darkness to finish Fossil Five. She responded immediately with excitement on the timing and alignment of my struggles and need to redirect my energies.
Jodi knows me well, and she understands that my entire focus in 2015 has been on “Primal Living.” My diet and exercise programs have been successful so far, as I have dropped over 85 pounds and have improved my cardiovascular health substantially. With everything else going so well, I didn’t understand why my writing wasn’t falling in line too.
Jodi shared with me the effects of the Gemini new moon on Tuesday. Coupled with the research that I’ve been doing and her explanation, I now understand – generally – that during any New Moon, we usually retreat and become more introspective. We may even crave solitude (which is nothing new to me), and enjoy quiet moments in nature. Again—this is perfectly aligned with how I have always sought refuge in more natural settings.
The difference in this new Gemini moon is that I – and all of you – will be able to take our work and knowledge gathered previously and channel it into positive action. We will be able to think more clearly about what we have been absorbing and learning, especially in the last few weeks. That’s good news for me with my recent struggles.
This Gemini moon gives me (and us) the confidence and initiative to make our dreams a reality because, finally, we are clear about why we want the change we seek and how to best manifest it.
For me, the manifestation (and The Darkness) begins June 16, 2015, at 10:07 a.m., Eastern time, precisely when the New Moon in Gemini begins.
Ok. It makes sense that you are beginning on June 16, but why 105 days? What’s so special about September 28? Don’t moon phases wrap up in 28 days?
While chatting with Jodi, I did a little more research on upcoming eclipses, and I noticed that the next total lunar eclipse was not too far away. It is scheduled to begin on September 27 at 8:11 p.m.
How fitting, I thought, to end this journey from a symbolic and literal emergence from total darkness.
So, as a result, the 105-day blackout concludes on September 28, when the total lunar eclipse ends at 1:22 a.m.
On that date, I will have a completed and edited manuscript, the book’s website all ready to accept advanced orders, and a launch schedule in place that will begin with a full celebration on Friday, November 13.
What will your 105 days look like, though, exactly?
The Fossil Five manuscript is nearly finished. As soon as I complete it, I will then run it through several revisions, including an initial “beta read” with a few select readers. They will provide feedback – independently from each other. Once I receive their reactions to the manuscript, I will make any necessary changes to the book.
Then it’s on to edits for grammar, sentence fluency, and other conventions. I will hire one or two readers for that purpose alone.
Once I make the final edits to the manuscript, I will create the design of the book. That file then goes out to a select group of readers for reviews and promotional blurbs. I will make any final changes after I hear from them, and then it’s on to the printers for proofs and plans for the First Edition printing.
While that is in the works, I will create the digital edition of Fossil Five, which will be available for download on the same day as the print launch.
Beginning November 13, we will have several celebratory launches that will include the original individuals who are the foundation of the Fossil Five characters in the story. In my opinion, their behind-the-scenes story is just as fascinating as any other aspect of this book.
I will be sharing that story on the website when it goes live on September 28.
Thank you to everyone who has made this book possible. I am grateful for your support, and I look forward to celebrating its release with you in November.
I am just as grateful that my Writing Constant, Jodi, will be joining me for these 105 days. We have made the promise to each other to avoid any social media networking to communicate. Instead, we are going old school and will be sharing our individual journeys and experiences through handwritten letters in journals that we will be sending each other weekly. While our journeys are quite different, we are united in our commitment to what creative endeavors may come during The Darkness. I know that she is just as excited as I am to embark on this adventure.
Enjoy these next 105 days. I will see you on the other side of The Darkness – with much to share – on September 28.