Finding religion? …not likely

Friday, 30 October, 2009

I am not really sure if I have ever mentioned this, on my blog.  Here it is, though.  The not-so-shocking truth:  I am an atheist.  Now that, what other people might consider, the ugliness out of the way, I can get down to the nitty gritty of what makes me post this blog–because I am really not a fan of bringing up religion in any case.

I would have to say that I have cobbled together my belief system from a few places.  This brings to mind a religion that, if I was to choose one, would be it: Shinto.  I am very much into the Japanese aesthetic as it is, so why not find that their religion is also something that pleases me?

Shinto is a religion very unlike most Christian and Catholic-based religions that are out there.  There is no concept of original sin.  No one has to atone for anything in Shinto.  This can definitely be a load off for people who feel that their god is “out to get them”.

Yes, there are gods in Shinto, they are known as Kami.  They exist basically in, and for everything.  It’s almost like the Force.  Though it has gods, there are many things other religions have, that it doesn’t.

Shinto has no founder, no doctrines, no precepts/commandments, no idols and no organization.  This may seem detrimental, but, according to Motohisa Yamakage (in his book The Essence of Shinto: Japan’s Spiritual Heart) it is not.

Shinto is really about four forms of purification.  Keeping clean, and bright (happy).  These two use the word Seimei–clean and happy attitude of your inner mind.  And keeping right and straight (honest).  These two use the word Seichoku–right action/behavior and behaving with honesty.

These are, relatively, easy things to follow.  There are also ceremonies of purification; those delve deeply into the spiritual realm.  Claiming impure spirits can attach themselves to oneself, and such purification can rid oneself of them.

While I believe that spirits, impure or otherwise, are out there it’s impossible to undergo that sort of cleansing.  There really is no access to shrines, and other tools used in these ceremonies.  Without moving to Japan, that is.

So, as Shinto goes, it’s basic believes–and it’s reverance for nature–do appeal to me.  I think everyone should live by those four key beliefs, though they most certainly don’t.  If I was in a place to practice Shinto, I think it would be my religion of choice.

Since I am not in any such place, I guess that practicing it’s beliefs is a close as I am going to get to actually becoming one with Kami.  My loss, I suppose.

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NaNoWriMo, past and future attempts

Tuesday, 27 October, 2009

I have NaNoWriMo on the brain.  I guess I am just psyching myself up for the upcoming start date.  I am thrilled to be doing this again, as it helps me get a story out that had seeded itself in my mind.  And it’s a great exercise, as well!!

I thought I would like to write a bit about my past, and possible future attempts at Nation Novel Writing Month.  So, here it is, for any and all to see.  A bit of my ups, and downs while writing 50,000 words.  The amount, more or less, in a short novel.

The first year I attempted, which was the only year I completed it, was 2007.  The whole year, and a bit of the year before, I had this odd story in my head.  It all started around Christmas 2006, as I can trace it back.

That year, I was pretty sick around Christmas time.  Christmas Eve, my sleep was plagued, a bit, by what I like to think of as fever dreams.  My dreams, then, were odd, and fairly vivid.

These dreams involved a young Japanese girl, who became my heroine named Mizuki, and warring factions of Japanese Yokai (a supernatural being).  The two factions were the Tengu and the Kappa.

My dream showed the young girl falling under attack by fearsome Kappa, only to have the Tengu come to her rescue.  The dream was basic, but, it laid the ground for a larger story.

Everyday for thirty days, I wrote of Mizuki and her friends and family.  Relationships became entwined, and grew apart.  Villains and heroes formed, and the story, for the most part, went in it’s own direction.  Things really did happen to these characters, that weren’t originally in my plans!

It was actually pretty magical, for the story to take shape on it’s own.  To me, NaNoWriMo was a novel idea (no pun intended).  It allowed a procrastinating amateur writer to actually get something done.  I was thrilled beyond belief when, on November 30th, I had written a bit over the 50,000 word goal!

2008 rolled around, and no story really seemed to plant it’s seed in my subconcious.  I knew I had many months to prepare, so I thought long and hard, but nothing really came up.

Sometime that Summer, though, I found myself (repeatedly) listening to Help! by The Beatles.  It was a favorite CD of mine to listen to while I did the dishes.  I noticed that the songs on the album, if rearranged a bit, created a story.

So, I had my idea.  The story didn’t have a real basis.  Not like the previous one did.  I had an outline which was made of the tracks of the album rearranged to make a story.

When the time came to start writing, he story flowed pretty well.  It was a love story (as some of the songs on Help! lent themselves well to that type), and the characters began to take on lives of their own.

However, as the month trudged on, it became harder and harder for me to form a good story.  I reached a dead-end.  It wasn’t writers block so much, as it was me losing interest in my own creation.

This year, my inspiration came from MANY odd encounters on the chat site Omegle.  I actually started writing the story not long after those encounters, but soon forgot about it.  I believe that was procrastination or the fact that I knew NaNoWriMo was not long in coming.

Well, when my computer died, and I lost all the files on it, I took it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to write that story until November brought NaNoWriMo to me.  A sad part of that whole affair is, though, that I lost the copies of my other attempts.

I always meant to revisit both of those stories, at some point, and do a lot of work on them.  However, that is no longer possible, so I am going to have to put my all into writing this new one.  Wish me luck!


Up-to-date blog. (Ranting ahead!)

Tuesday, 27 October, 2009

Well, it has certainly been a long time since I blogged last.  It’s terrible that I haven’t kept up with this, and it makes me sad.  However, a lot has happened to keep me away from this blog, and none of it is good.  Well, maybe some of it might be, I don’t remember.

First things first, I am without a computer.  Well, not totally without, as the one downstairs–my sister’s–works just fine.  My own computer, a machine that has served me rather faithfully for nearly six years, died unexpectedly at the beginning of the month.

It’s been rough, especially since I had someone buy, and am still paying for, a new monitor.  But, that’s how it goes, I guess.  I should have seen it coming as I noticed, about a month before it died, that the CD ROM drive didn’t function any more.  It must have been a sign of what was to come.

Before it died, though, I did something very important!  I applied for classes at the local community college.  I wanted to do something to better myself, and thought Damn it!  Why not? All the financial aid paperwork has been filled out, and come back (with good award grants, I might add).  Now it’s just a matter of waiting for an official acceptance from the school.

I am still unemployed, though, and am quickly running out of funds.  I need to find work, and am hoping that the extra thirteen weeks of extended benefits that is being looked at comes through.  At least it would be something to carry me through the holidays, and into the Spring semester, when I should be starting classes.

To keep my mind occupied, though, I am easger awaiting the beginning of November.  I amgoing to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short), again!  My story has already formed itself in my mind, so I cannot wait to start writing.  I might even do a daily/weekly blog about my experience.

All-in-all, that has been my life for the past couple months.  Mostly full of downs, but, there are some good things to hope for, in the near future.  I guess I’ll just have to play the waiting game.  To quote Homer Simpson, “The waiting game sucks.  Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos.