Book of interest: Sigil Magic for Writers, Artists & Creatives

Writer and mystic T. Thorn Coyle has a new book out: Sigil Magic for Writers, Artists, and Other Creatives.

Cover of Sigil Magic by T. Thorn Coyle

I had the honor of hearing Thorn speak in Baltimore in 2009, when she was on tour for Kissing the Limitless, and her Elemental Castings podcast accompanied me on many hours of driving around the same time. Her earlier book, Evolutionary Witchcraft, also made a huge impact on me and my practice as a baby witch. So I’m comfortable saying, without having read Sigil Magic, that Thorn knows her shit and the book should be an interesting read grounded in the Western mystery tradition.

Sigils are marks or designs created with specific intent and layered with symbolism to accomplish a task. (Bindrunes are a parallel concept.) Ceremonial magic uses a number of sigils for varying purposes; you can use one that already exists and tap into the power that repeated use over time has imbued in it, or you can create and charge your own sigil. If you want to learn more, check out Thorn’s book.

On not italicizing Spanish

Today I’m editing an article that talks about translation in the bilingual classroom. There was a section of dialogue that was tough to edit clearly: A student read aloud a few sentences from a book, including a line that was spoken in the book, then discussed with three other students how to translate those sentences. The students asked one another in English about this or that word in Spanish, and I used quote marks, offsetting commas, and italics to clarify which words the students spoke, which words they were discussing, and which words were part of the quoted material or their translation. (If the article is freely available when it’s published a few months from now, I’ll link it so you can see what I’m talking about.)

I didn’t even bother to italicize every instance of Spanish, thanks to a video posted by author Daniel José Older last year (before his novel Half-Resurrection Blues was published; which you should definitely read):

The text I’m editing is academic, not fiction, but that doesn’t really matter. It would have been doubly more confusing (and, I decided, wrong) to try and italicize all the Spanish simply because the article as a whole is in English, and it wouldn’t have been true either to the way these bilingual students spoke or to what the reader needed to understand.

The overarching questions I ask as I’m editing are “What are you saying here? How can we get that across to readers so that they get it right away?”

These days, I don’t reflexively italicize Spanish. When I’m following a style guide that does, I stop and think about whether each instance of italics would serve the reader. Today, it would have just gotten in the way. Out it went.

Pirates of the Caribbean gif:

Getting woo-woo for a moment

As I said in the sticky post, I moved my feeds to The Old Reader and have been weeding through blogs I didn’t read or that hadn’t updated in six months or more, and catching up with blogs that I loved but hadn’t had time to really sit with and read deeply.

I’d like to recommend some blogs of the latter type. They aren’t really about editing (see the sidebar for editing/writing blogs I like), but they share a focus on being your own self rather than projecting an image that you think is more likable or better at everything. Maintaining that image takes a lot of unnecessary work, and while the image can be a protective shell or a useful mask, it can also be uncomfortable and limiting. In the years before I took this leap, I was increasingly frustrated by the need to divide myself into a “work” persona and a “real” persona. I didn’t feel that I could be as feminist, as spiritual, as silly, as simply human, or as wholly myself while at work. So part of my work in building Last Syllable Communications is to set that image aside, take the risk of being my authentic self, and trust that clients who want to work with me — not just a warm body with X, Y, Z skills and Q years of experience, but me in particular — will connect with me and we can begin a working relationship, whether for the length of one project or over the course of years.

These are some of the blogs I read that encourage authenticity, risk, being your own self, and nurturing that sense of self.

  • Captain Awkward, an advice column for the nerdy and awkward among us (self included)
  • The Freelancery, which I recommend over and over here for freelancing advice and encouragement
  • Momastery, a blog full of light and love and brutiful life
  • Nurshable, about gentle parenting (you may find this blog less useful if you’re not a parent or have a very different parenting style)
  • Beauty Tips for Ministers, advice on dressing fashionably and appropriately at the same time; geared toward clergymembers, but enormously useful to me as I transitioned into my thirties and realized I needed to learn to dress myself again

Coming up for air

I sent an edited book back to its author yesterday and an upcoming project was canceled, so I find myself with some free time this weekend. Relief!

So far, I’ve found that spare time in freelancing is different from wrapping up an office job at 5 p.m. on a Friday. There’s always something more to do, some chore that I’ve been putting off (updating my LinkedIn profile, finishing that business plan, checking out a resource I’d bookmarked awhile ago…). I kind of miss the sense of freedom that comes with leaving work at work and heading off into my weekend. Then again, I love the other sense of freedom I have on a Monday morning: sipping my coffee slowly, making pancakes for breakfast, and easing into my workday as I feel ready.

In other news, I’ve made one investment today and am considering another two. First, I bought a domain name, after reading Why everyone should register a domain name and being surprised that was available. (I’ve owned since 2005 and just pointed the new domain here.) Second, I’ve been considering a couple of noncredit college classes to fill in some gaps in my skills: Accounting Fundamentals and Grant Writing A to Z, both offered online through my local community college. There are start dates in April and that looks like a good time to take those classes.

And third, after struggling with Excel after a computer upgrade — my old laptop had Excel Starter but my new desktop doesn’t; I’ve been unimpressed with Open Office/LibreOffice, and Google’s spreadsheets aren’t reliable enough — I’m now weighing the usefulness of a Microsoft Office upgrade and whether to go with the subscription model Microsoft is pushing. The Google Reader shutdown has shaken my confidence in the cloud model. I don’t want to wake up one morning, try to open Word or Excel, and find that I’m out of luck.

Finally, a moving/renovation update: The wood floors have been sanded and finished! We’ll wait a few days for any fumes to dissipate and finally start moving in. Plumbing is all set up, I believe, minus the washer and dryer (which we’re still using at the old house). My office hasn’t been painted yet, but that won’t hold up the move. I can’t wait to get this done!

Business is rolling along

I’m so excited about the way my business has been developing since I’ve been focusing on it full-time. I sent a book off last Friday, I’ve had projects in smaller pieces before and since, and I’ve got another couple of projects coming in the next week or so. This week is a bit of a lull so I’m looking for new clients and trying to build up my ten true fans.

The flexibility of freelancing is fantastic, for one thing. I was able to spend Tuesday driving to a distant post office to pick up new business cards, drop off a few bins of stuff at the new house and check out the slate tile going down in the kitchen, take my daughter to a play area and let her burn off some energy, and generally stay out of the old house during a scheduled showing. (I can’t underestimate how useful my smartphone is, either. I was able to accept a couple new assignments while on the road.)

Some of the tools and fun things I’ve been using for the past couple of weeks: Toggl, for tracking time on projects and business tasks. New dictionaries and style guides to build up my reference library. The subscription to Merriam-Webster Unabridged is worth it just to stop those annoying autoplaying videos, and Words Into Type should be interesting because I was trained in proofreading by a former linotype operator, so I learned a lot of old ways of doing things. A wireless keyboard, which will be most useful in my office at the new house, since my “office” right now is a laptop on my kitchen table and the laptop’s keyboard works fine.

And with that, it’s time for lunch! (I won’t describe what I’m having or post a picture of the plate. Not on this blog, anyway.)