From Mary Jo:
Jo’s Wednesday post got eaten by Typepad for much of the day, Susan King delayed her Thursday post to give Jo’s post more top-of-the-column time after it was recovered—so in that spirit, I’ll post this later on Friday than I usually post. Since I can’t think of anything to say on historical romances and accuracy that hasn’t already been said beautifully, I’m going for something completely different: Mercury Retrograde.
Some people believe in astrology, some don’t. But even those who don’t will often believe in Mercury retrograde. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a planet is considered retrograde when it is on the opposite side of the sun from Earth. Since the planet is moving “backwards” in respect to Earth, its motion is called retrograde, and the energies associated with that planet don’t flow freely. (I don’t really have any good retrograde pictures, but I thought those flamingos looked pretty retrograde.)
Mercury is the planet in our system that is closest to the sun and which moves the fastest, so it becomes retrograde three times a year for about three weeks each time. What does that mean for those of us here on earth? Chaos and confusion! Mercury rules everyday life, business, and communications. This means a lot of things can go wrong. As our intrepid site manager and resident dominatrix, Sherrie Holmes, says, “It’s liked global PMS. Duck!”
Internet lists explode into flame wars, people miscommunicate about times or dates, one person shows up late for a meeting while another schedules two events for the same time. Contracts arranged under a retrograde need to be checked extra carefully. I once had a retrograde book contract that had to go back to the publisher several times because of errors—and when it came to me for what should have been the last time, it turned out that the year was wrong and no one had noticed! I also suspect that Mercury retrograde would be prominent in the history of Boston’s Big Dig, which has a been a disaster of extended time, costs, and problems, and is now manifesting a new set of disasters.
It’s not great to buy a car on a retrograde if you can avoid it—the only vehicular lemon I ever bought turned out to be a retrograde car. (A whited sepulcher of a Datsun wagon.) And if you go to settlement on a house, double check everything—there might well be mistakes on fees and interest rates. (More than the usual number of mistakes, that is!)
But even though retrogrades are usually regarded with the same enthusiasm as a patch of poison ivy, they can have their good points. They are often good for REsearch and REvisions and REestructuring and REthinking. In fact, I’m doing that last now because I realized that my current story needed something added. Maybe if an author delivers a book on a retrograde, it will be REprinted or REissued. (Okay, it may need REvisions, too, but most books do no matter when you send them in!) It can also be good for REsolving problems that manifested under an earlier retrograde.
Delays are often associated with retrogrades, and justly so, but even more, a retrograde means REscheduling. About ten days ago, a friend of mine ordered a popular new hybrid car, and was told they’d have it in no later than the end of September. Then the dealership swapped with another dealer and she had received it in a week. This was a REscheduling that worked for her, and very nice the car is, too. <g>
It is, frankly, very convenient to blame screw-ups on Mercury retrograde, especially if one is an absent-minded author on deadline. Like everything in life, a retrograde has pluses and minuses. Some things are just meant to be done the hard way, and often we end up having to do them on retrogrades. My philosophy on a retrograde is to lie low, not be uptight about small stuff, and triple check everything that’s critical. The retrograde doesn’t really cause the problems—it’s more a symbol of the energy involved, and it’s hard to fight Mother Nature.
There is one positive use of a retrograde, though I haven’t tried it myself. I’m told it’s a good time to break up with a boyfriend if you want him to come back later. <g>
In the miscellaneous category: Happy Bastille Day! My late sweet Pandora Cat, the tabby with thumbs who lasted till age 20 ½, was born on Bastille Day.
And lastly, in the spirit of the retrograde, in last week’s blog about the paperback publication of Stolen Magic, I was so busy talking about the book that I forgot to give a copy away. So—contest! Anyone who is signed up for the Wench newsletter by midnight EDT on Saturday, July 15th, is eligible to get a free signed copy of Stolen Magic.
That’s all for now, folks—and may the retrograde be kind to you and your electronics.