In which our resident Mystic, uh, Peg (?) Poppy O’Neill compiles a list of literary horoscopes pulled straight from the nearest novel to predict YOUR bookish future…
This month’s offerings come from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because we all need a little magical realism to get us through the day, right?
21st March – 19th April
The locked room, about which the spiritual life of the house revolved in former times, was known from that time on as the “chamberpot room.”
You feel like you’re full of shit right now. You’re wrong, obviously. Go for a walk, have a snack, then write the next page, even if you think it’s terrible. You can fix it later.
20th April – 20th May
The president of the court-martial was annoyed.
“Don’t be clever, Buendia,” he told him. “That’s just a trick to gain more time.”
Stop putting off writing that difficult chapter. Ease yourself in by writing just the dialogue, or just the action, then flesh it out once the bare bones are in place.
21st May – 20th June
“Look at the mess we’ve got ourselves into,” Colonel Aureliano Buendía said at that time, “just because we invited a gringo to eat some bananas.”
Don’t fret if your story’s gone off-piste, Gemmies. It’s a good sign if characters are taking on a life of their own. Let the gringo eat the banana and see where it takes you.
21st June – 22nd July
Úrsula would bring them coffee and milk and biscuits and would take over the children so that they would not bother them. Aramanta was really making an effort to kindle in her heart the forgotten ashes of her youthful passion.
Do what you’ve got to do to carve out some writing, editing or staring-out-the-window time. It’s important to take time to be creative – fuck feeling guilty about it.
23rd July – 22nd August
The streets were deserted under the persistent rain and the houses locked up with no trace of life inside.
Get your arse out of the house, away from chores and distractions and responsibilities. Find a café with patchy or non-existent wifi and make it your writing spot. Go there often.
23rd August – 22nd September
Colonel Aureliano Buendía fell prisoner just as he was about to reach the western frontier disguised as an Indian witch doctor.
Don’t give up! You’re almost there: finish the draft/poem/chapter/short story! The universe is rooting for you.
23rd September – 22nd October
The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience.
You’re finding yourself pissed off with writers more successful than you. Know that there is room in the world for your stories too. Don’t compare your work-in-progress to someone else’s finished, edited, polished and marketed product.
23rd October – 21st November
All day long she would embroider beside the window, withdrawn from the uneasiness of the war, until the ceramic pots would begin to vibrate in the cupboard and she would get up to warm the meal, much before the appearance, first, of the mangy hounds, and then of the colossus in leggings and spurs with a double-barreled shotgun, who sometimes carried a deer on his shoulder and almost always a string of rabbits or wild ducks.
Bring life to a turgid scene by giving your character a prop to fiddle with or a practical task to perform.
22nd November – 21st December
Because of a kind of scientific superstition he never worked, or read, or bathed, or made love until two hours of digestion had gone by, and it was such a deep-rooted belief that several times he held up military operations so as not to submit the troops to the risks of indigestion.
Take a leaf out of Colonel Aureliano’s book and give things plenty of time to digest. Once you’ve finished your story, leave it alone for at least a week. You’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and that bit of detachment needed for good editing.
22nd December – 19th January
About that time he had begun to cultivate the black mustache with waxed tips and the somewhat stentorian voice that would characterize him in the war.
Research widely but wear it lightly and include only what’s necessary to the story in your writing. A fascinating but unnecessary fact will stick out like a fake moustache.
20th January – 18th February
Death did not tell her when she was going to die or whether her hour was assigned before that of Rebeca, but ordered her to begin sewing her own shroud on the next sixth of April.
Deadlines are excellent motivators. Set monthly ones with a writer friend and give each other a bollocking for lateness.
19th February – 20th March
And then she forgot about the manuscripts, went to the door with a dance step, and from there she threw Aureliano a kiss with the tips of her fingers as she had said good-bye to her father on the afternoon when they sent her to Brussels.
Writing isn’t always strictly writing, fishy friends. Sometimes writing is going for a walk alone, or dancing, or hanging the washing on the line and feeling the grass between your toes. No experience is ever wasted, make sure to get your fill of them.