The shiny new project

Hi! This would be the announcement of the shiny new project that’s been occupying a lot of my spare time on and off since August. It’s actually not all that secret – I’ve had a link in the header here for a while, and I’ve mentioned it (usually in relation to specific pages) on several forums over the last few months.

Welcome to Seeking: First Steps and Tools at http://gleewood.org/seeking . It contains 107 (and counting) separate articles about general Pagan topics, with a focus on getting started in religious witchcraft paths. They work from basic definitions, to a series of articles on connecting with other Pagans, to a selection of core and common practices (and some ideas on how to start with them), to broader questions that come up a lot, and where I wanted to collect my answers and thoughts.

And welcome to its new sister site, Liminal Words at http://gleewood.org/books. There’s only a few titles up there right now, but more are on the way. It’ll include both Pagan titles, and other books of interest – on my current list are notes on books about the natural world, productivity and time management, food, and much more.

Both these sites are a way for me to use tags and other organizational tools in a way that’s clear, useful, and easy to understand, rather than trying to throw everything together on this blog.

What is it?

Seeking, as I said, is a way for me to share stuff in my head in a way that might be useful to me and to other people. There’s more below about why I started working on this. Where there are books (or other online websites) I like, I reference the books (Books do some things really well, and extended discussions on a particular topic are one of them.)

These articles are mostly

  • things that I think most books don’t cover well
  • things that aren’t as widely available on the web as I’d like (Centering and grounding, weirdly enough, don’t get a lot of screen time.)
  • topics where I wanted to share experiences, personal practices, and other such things in more detail. I don’t think what I do is the only way, but I do learn a lot from how other people approach things, and I suspect other people do too.
  • and while there’s certainly some theory in there, a lot of it is very pragmatic – how to do stuff, how to get started doing stuff, how to vary what you’re doing in thoughtful ways.

They’re not meant to be a complete instruction method, but they’re meant to help someone get a solid start, with a good awareness of things to look out for and be attentive to. (They’re also not formal writing, though I’ve tried to write clearly.)

I want to repeat here something I say on the intro page over there. What’s here (and there) comes from the distillation of my own training, plus a whole lot of reading, conversation, practice, and experience. I’m not The Expert on everything, but you can think of me as An Experienced Voice. (The only thing I’m The Expert on is how stuff works in my own coven.)

There’s more coming:

And, as I said on the 1st, I’m planning to start posting here much more regularly, on topics related to better teaching methods, sustainable priestessing, using information resources better, and general process geeking. Asking me a question is a good way to get me writing, so feel free to go “Hey, write more about that thing?” No guarantees, but your chances are good.

(Incidentally, one of the posts on tap is about disentangling unwanted energies. Someone asked me last week.)

How to keep up?

New pages on the Seeking site will be noted on the Site Update page, now that most of the site is done. I’ll also make a periodic note here every time I’ve added a couple of pages or  every few weeks, whichever seems to make more sense at the time.

You can subscribe to an RSS feed of both this blog and the Liminal Words blog through the RSS links at the top of those sites. I’ll also be posting notes here periodically of new book commentary. (For those reading me via Dreamwidth or LiveJournal: I’ll be continuing to mirror the posts from this blog, but not the other two sub-sites. That’s part of why I’m doing the “New posts over here” notes.)

Why’d I do it?

As with most things in my life, it’s serving multiple purposes.

Getting my brain working: As I’ve said here, the last eighteen months have been a really lousy health time for me, and one of the hardest things for me was that the stuff that was easy for me, mentally, got really hard.

(The physical stuff wasn’t easy, mind you. But since a lot of my sense of identity is rooted in my head, not having the brain work like I thought it should, and losing a lot of what I’d otherwise use as coping mechanism was… well, I’d rather not do that again, please.)

That included writing, and in particular, writing that required extended focus and concentration. Which is why there were so few blog posts here in the last 18 months or so.

This project was, in part, a way to retrain my brain, to work on a project that was both very large (107 articles is a lot!) but that had smaller pieces I would focus on for an hour or two. And once that got going, I started playing with what happened when I got interrupted mid-writing, or took a break. How long did it take to get back into the swing of the work?

When I started working on these pages, writing 1500 words (my aim for length for an article – there are some that are a lot longer, mind you) was taking me 3-5 hours. The last essays I’ve done here are closer to 1000 words in an hour or so, sometimes less. (Which is much closer to my ‘normal’ writing speed for stuff I’m enthusiastic about and have a good idea how I want to write it before I start.) Hi brain! Nice to have you back like that.

I do in fact have a book I want to work on – on research and Pagan topics – and got another idea for something someone really needs to write last week (and that someone might be me. We’ll see.) So being able to work on big projects was a big goal not just to help me feel I’m really able to go do the kind of professional work I did once and want to do again, but also to maybe make progress on those projects.

It was also a good reward for me after working on cover letters and demonstration projects for long periods. (Ok, I like working on demos. But I’m sort of sick of cover letters. I’ve written close to 50 of them since June.) “Finish this cover letter, and you can go write that bit on daily practices you had a good idea for!” was a good mental bribe.

Preparing ground for long-term plans: I hope very much to be teaching in person again when I know where I’m working. However, I also know that I’m likely to have less time and energy for prep work while I’m getting used to a new job.

Many of these articles are things that I knew I might want to reference with a new student, but which I didn’t have a satisfactory reading assignment for without making them buy lots of books. (I approve of books. I think people should own books. But I don’t want a new student to need 10 books just to piece together the bits I think are most important about a topic.) Writing them now means I can draw on them later, that students can review what we talk about in a written form, and much more.

They don’t include tradition-specific materials, but those are things I intend to teach orally, without much in the way of written notes, for various reasons.

I like sharing this stuff. I was talking about this with a dear friend at Solstice, when she called me a theologian. I argue I’m not quite a theologian: what I do best, in my oh-so-humble opinion is that I take existing material, create connections between it, and figure out why it works and how to make it work better, without losing the bits that hold the magic, the awe, the potential, the possibility.

I’m a process geek, with a solid sense of religious mystery and mysticism, in other words. Which is not entirely what people think of when you say ‘theologian’, in part because a lot of definitions of theology focus on belief. I’m more about the practice, hence ‘geek’.

Some of the material comes from posts I particularly liked on various Pagan forums over the years, but 80% or so of it is completely new writing. (I’ve edited as I went, but I’ll be coming back and revising for clarity and tightening up some things in the coming months. If stuff’s confusing, let me know so I can fix it.)

Got questions?

Feel free to ask here, via the contact link, or any other reasonably reliable method. (Mindreading is not reliable for me, sorry!)

Feel free to share links to pages on the Seeking site, the Liminal Words site, or here with anyone you think would benefit from them.

But, please don’t recopy individual articles to other places without checking with me, since many of them rely on some existing links.  That said, if you ask, chances are pretty good I might say yes. I like people using my stuff. I just want to know where it goes, so that if I come up with some brilliant new metaphor or explanation, I can share it with you, and to make sure my work is attributed usefully (with a link back to its original site) so people who like it can find more.

(I hope it goes without saying that I am a librarian who used to do DMCA copyright-removal responses for a major online site: I know how to file those reports for removal of copyrighted material when I need to. I don’t want to have to.)

And for the curious, some stats:

  • In August, I put up 29 pages. (Most of those were pieces I’d written in other forms elsewhere.)
  • In September, I put up 13 pages (about half of which were either very short or from earlier writing. September was busy with planning and running our local Pagan Pride.)
  • In October, it was 32 pages, much of which was new writing.
  • November had 14 pages (again, almost all new writing)
  • December had 8, all but one in written the last week of the month (You can tell I had two interviews in December, one of which involved preparing a large sample project, can’t you?)
  • And I finished the last 12 in the first two days of January. (I had notes or portions of several of these already, and they were mostly shorter and very easy to structure.)
  • Then I went through everything, made several specific edits (adding the tags, ‘read more’ links so the tag pages would look nice, and adding a ‘last edited’ note to each page.)

As I said, 107 articles (which includes 4 index pages, and about 5 other general info pages about the site.) And that comes out to 145,000 words. Which is, erm, a lot. Most of them average about 1,500 words, which is the length I was generally aiming for, but there are some longer pieces in there. (And some shorter ones).

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