23 things I’ve done instead of starting Camp NaNoWriMo

This was supposed to be a very motivational “Yay! It’s Camp Nano again and I’m going to write all the words!” type of post, but then it hit me. Have I actually done anything Camp NaNoWriMo-related at all so far?

Nope.

Before anyone comes up with a kind-hearted “oh, but you’ve probably been busy”, I haven’t. I’m currently on sick leave, and while that does hinder productivity a bit, I also have more time. Apart from a run and a coffee with a good friend yesterday, I haven’t had any plans at all since April began. But I’ve procrastinated, oh yes. Most of it sensible things, but still.

This is what I have done instead of writing today:

  1. Played countless rounds of Solitaire via Messenger in order to beat my friend’s record. This is apparently very important.
  2. Watched videos on how to do a pushup with proper technique, followed by stretching videos and how to decompress ankles and so on, which are all quite relevant actually, but this also lead to videos with Try Not To Laugh challenges, videos on movie tropes (some of which I’ve seen before), funny but pointless Buzzfeed videos…
  3. Listened to music. Listened to some more music. Tried to find music I’m not tired of. Realised my head is too tired for the music I want to listen to right now.
  4. Foam rolled my achy hips and ankles/calves.
  5. Contemplated making coffee.
  6. Didn’t make coffee.
  7. Contemplated watching Lord of the Rings (extended trilogy) again. Still not decided. I mean, if you’ve seen them enough to basically know them by heart, you can get some writing done at the same time, right?
  8. Ate a sorry excuse for a breakfast, then crisps. Wish I could say it was because I’ve been healthy all week, but alas…
  9. Went through a dance I made. Still iffy to music and I struggle to understand my own notes. Feeling like a hack and considered scrapping the whole thing because I apparently can’t make up steps. Even if, you know, I just finished a whole dance.
  10. Felt sorry for myself because my head hurts. I’ve slept too long and just quit soda.
  11. Wondered if it’s horribly financially irresponsible to order a pizza instead of making dinner tonight, even if I have all the ingredients and it takes only a moment. I feel like today’s a pizza day, but I don’t have any grocery stores nearby that are open on Sundays, and I don’t feel like venturing out of the house today anyway. This is still a work in progress, by the way. Has absolutely nothing to do with the aforementioned videos I watched.
  12. Tried to think of ways to do what I like for a living. My current job sucks and job searching isn’t very fun (but still has to be done). Would have been easier if working within sales was an option (I would suck at it and hate it intensely).
  13. Wrote this blog post.
  14. Checked the status of an order I know isn’t sent (waiting for stock, and not much happens on Sunday anyway).
  15. Tried to stop myself from redesigning this website. It has to be done, but after Camp NaNoWriMo, damnit!
  16. Did the dishes.
  17. Tidied up my apartment.
  18. Had blueberries that ended up not tasting very good. Not worth tempting my allergies for. (Not fully allergic, just slightly intolerant to most types of fruit and berries.) Disappointed.
  19. Seriously craved pizza.
  20. Caved and ordered pizza. Ate the whole thing instead of saving some of it for tonight.
  21. Did laundry.
  22. Played Endless Lake (a mindless Facebook game) probably close to 100 times.
  23. Made the stupid coffee. Thought it tasted funny, and that I maybe hadn’t rinsed the milk creamer properly. Threw it out and did it all again. Now I am out of milk.

So there you have it! It’s still early though, so there is hope.

Conworld Celebrations

It’s that time of the year again, when my playlist is filled with Christmas music, and I find it increasingly difficult to wait for my holiday to begin. It will be a proper holiday this year too – two whole weeks, in fact, due to compensatory time off and such things – and I can’t wait. There will be heaps of wonderful food, socializing with family I don’t see very often, and time to catch up on my reading or any of my creative projects – or just relax. I’m always very sentimental when Christmas is approaching.

In my conworlds – particularly the one used in my stories – I’ve thought very little about celebrations, until I was editing the plot of Rogue Sorcery and realised that the world was really dull. It was a pity, because the world itself is as far from dull as you could get. But if it never shows up in the story, how could you tell? I realised that my own stories were lightyears apart from the literary worlds I’ve admired for years, with their detail and history and life. So I started rethinking the way my world worked. How would these large-scale things affect people in their daily lives? What would be important to them? Which parts of the year did they find useful or important to celebrate? How would these things be uniquely Ayamarian, not just glossed-over Christmas/Yule and Midsummer?

The work is far from done. Ayamar is filled with culture after culture, so it would be far-fetched to even think about being fully done one day. But I have begun, and I like what I have so far.

The darkest part of winter, at least in the north, is the Standstill. Everything – literally everything – is still. There are no stars, no sun, no moon, and the monsters and magical creatures who normally have to keep underground, out of the light, are suddenly free to roam the surface. It lasts for the equivalent of nine days, and they are the nine most terrifying days in the entire year. You cannot go out to fetch water. You cannot go out to hunt, or to visit a neighbour, or to tend to animals, or any of the other things you might need to go outside to do. The exception is if you live in a big city, where there is always light and city walls and guards, but even there people are reluctant to go outside.

Needless to say, when those nine days are over, people need a good celebration. They get their finest clothes, best food and invite over everyone they know, and even if it is in the middle of the winter, they open every window and every door to let as much light as possible in.

In the northern part of Mearan, which is the continent where my stories are set, some places celebrate a Festival of the Lights. They light lanterns and torches and bonfires and lamps and every little thing that can bring light. Some places they go to high places and let the lanterns fly with the wind – depending on how flammable the landscape is, but in general it is snow at this time – but mostly they just make sure that every single part of their home or village is lit.

In the evening the merchants open their stalls and there will be markets selling everything you can think of, and there’ll be games and theatre and music and dance and all sorts of activities. In the evening people will carry tables out into the streets, sharing the best meal they can possibly make. The nobles of the city – or at least those who care about their image – will hand out food and lanterns to the poor, and the youth will make the streets unsafe for everyone. Not everyone in Northern Mearan celebrate the Festival of the Lights, but there is almost always some sort of celebration or feast, and there is almost always plenty of superstition and myth connected to this day.

Another huge celebration is the New Year’s Day, or the Spring Feast. It is exactly three months after the Standstill, and on this day the winter is officially over in nearly all Mearan. On this day there is a huge feast, where the remaining food from the winter is eaten, and there is plenty of music and dance and friendly competition of all sorts. The celebration often lasts for the entire day and night, and it is considered very good to be wed or betrothed on this day, or to give birth (though not quite as much as on the first day after the Standstill). It is not quite so big as the celebration after the Standstill, but it is still a very important date.

The third large celebration is typically the end of the harvest, and as such it varies from place to place. When the harvest is done and the hunting season is well underway, people serve the best meat – either game or livestock – and the best foods, and it is a time for telling all the old stories and myths. It is a more modest celebration than the other two, mostly because the food will have to last through the winter, but it is a very important one, and also the most religious of the three.

What celebrations do you have in your conworld? Do you stick to those that look like our own, or have you invented something completely different?