Chinese New Year is approaching. We will move from the Year of the Goat to the Year of the Monkey on February 8. Neither of these is the Year of the Dragon, to state the obvious. However, the dragon has had special meaning for me these past two years.
In 2014, a major life goal of mine was realised. This was to see my writing in a book with real pages, and became a reality with the publication of How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit. This is an anthology of writing in which I was a contributing writer. For me, 2014 felt to be my year of the Dragonfruit.
Then, it so turned out that 2015 became my Year of the Snapdragon……
However, before I tell the story of the Snapdragon, I have to tell you about “Shut up and Write!”
I have mentioned Yangon Writing Group before. We are a small group of people with writing dreams and aspirations. Some of whom have a serious writing CV and publications to their name. Some like me whose dreams are significantly grander then the reality. It is a group where we push our creative boundaries, experiment, critique each others work and provide encouragement and motivation. It is a nurturing space and one where I for one, have learned and grown a great deal.
As the years have passed, our Writing Group has morphed to suit the needs of its members in a constantly moving community. But generally, we meet, we write, we critique each others work all in a very informal setting. Recently, we have refined our process somewhat, taking advantage of new voices and ideas. We now have a more set structure on a monthly basis, rather than meeting to meeting. On a Saturday morning we will meet, alternating venues between downtown and middle-ish town to accommodate increasing traffic. Most weeks we will “Shut up and Write” and once a month we have a Feedback Session, where we share pieces (in advance) which we would like to have critiqued. This is turning out to be a good balance, where we can write in the company of others and where we can hear feedback on our writing.
So, three Saturday mornings out of four, we gather in a nice creative spot, chat for 10 minutes or so, catching up with news and ideas and then a timer is set for 45 minutes and we literally shut up and write. We have a breather after the 45 minutes order more coffee or stretch our legs, and then quieten down for another intense write. This can be repeated as often as we want, and generally most folk are there for two bursts of writing, and some stay on a good chunk of the day, filling up on coffee and snacks and taking advantage of a physical and temporal writing space.
While 45 minutes does not sound long, it can be quite incredible how much can be produced or achieved in such a short time. There is also no directive about what we focus on in that time. We have, between us, refined previous work, worked on brand new ideas, continued existing, longer writing projects and blogged. We have also used that time on occasions to put together submissions of our work for publication.
I have found that dedicated time has become important. When you make a concerted effort, even if it is only to head to a coffee shop, then you do ensure that you use that time productively.
I have been using this time in a variety of ways. The few blog posts which have appeared, have formed mostly during “Shut up and Write” time. I have gently re-opened the memoir and taken some time to start moving forward on the long path ahead with that work. And I have also prepared a couple of small submissions.
And finally, that is where the Snapdragon connection comes in.
I discovered Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing late last year. A journal which combines creativity and healing clearly would resonate with me. This is very clear in the Journal’s description and vision:
Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and HealingWe could not think of a better name for this journal other than Snapdragon! At its deepest level, the Snapdragon flower essence helps the soul to distinguish its use of creative forces — especially those which radiate from the lower energy centers, and those which are used for spoken word. The Snapdragon flower is often used as a remedy to help persons — particularly those who experience extreme tension in the jaw and mouth — to re-direct their powerful metabolic energy into its rightful channels. By harmonizing the relationship between these energy centers, the soul evolves in its use of creative power. And so, with Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, our desire is to provide a platform for your self-expression and soul’s healing!Our Mission: To engage and support persons in the process of self-discovery, expression, and healing through creative engagement with the arts.Our Vision: Individuals and communities having a safe space and a platform to create a portrait of their experiences and hopes so that they may find the peace and healing balm authentic sharing provides that we might grow in our respect, appreciation and love of ourselves and one another.
It was approaching the end of October when submissions would close for the December edition, and I was compelled to rework and submit some of the pieces which had been part of my own creative process.
This has become a longer story than anticipated, so I shall skip a little and take you to a day in November, when I opened an email from Snapdragon. The email brought a broad smile to my face as I learned that one of my poems would be included in the December issue “The Art of Creating”.
This is an online Journal so I do not have a paper copy, and it is subscription based so I cannot share the Journal itself, but details of the subscriptions are here and (remember I am Scottish, so you can trust me on this 😉 ) are very affordable.
Another year, another writing dragon. A very happy gecko! I am especially delighted that my name features among the artists contributing to the Journal. One quite delighted gecko indeed!
But here’s the funny thing. The last Year of the Dragon (in Chinese astrology) was in 2012, ending in February 2013. The next Year of the Dragon is way ahead, starting in 2024. However, in Myanmar, it is the day of the week in which a person is born that is fundamental to an individual and their actions. I am Saturday born. Each day of the week is associated with a particular animal and ruling planet.
Saturday born people are ruled by Saturn. And privileged to be mythical dragons.