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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Monday, April 11, 2005

life's peaks

A relatively productive morning. I was able to launch into writing Chapter 14, which in this portion is basically action writing: portraying physical action without letting myself as narrator get in the way. I made it to page 8, then found my focus dissolving. The brisk action was done; the story was to turn toward dialogue. Could I take it at least one more page? That way I could get to my semi-official quota of 5 pages for the day.

Hm. Wait--I had a phone call to make. Had to phone a guy in Toronto about how to apply for compensation from the Shell polybutylene claim fund (a fund set up by Shell Oil as a result of a successful class-action suit by owners of houses built in the 1980s with polybutylene plumbing). Sure, had to take care of that--I'm president and treasurer of strata corporation VR1715, the entity to which the owners of the 9 townhouses in my building belong. So I called Earl. Yes, the news was unfavorable: each of the owners would have to apply individually for compensation, unlike the DuPont USA fund, to which I'd been able to apply on behalf of the strata corporation as a whole. Maybe that's why Earl never called me back, despite repeated promises.

I thanked him, made notes on the call. Then: is the Mercury retrograde over yet? I got up to check my ephemeris. Let's see...Mercury is direct again by midnight...but just barely...probably turns direct sometime mid-afternoon our time. And what about my own transits? How are they doing? What about my culminating Saturn, which is supposed to be harvest-time astrologically? I'm an astrologer; I'd tell someone who had Saturn culminating over the midheaven of his or her chart, if I were asked, that it meant the harvest: whatever you've put effort into, especially over the past 14-15 years, will have its result.

Saturn has been culminating over my midheaven in what's known as a triple transit since last year. It will finish that culmination next month. This morning, while typing notes from Roman Lives on Pompey, I had reached the part about his return to Rome after conquering much of Asia. Back in Rome he would celebrate his third triumph on 28-9 September 61 BC, his 45th birthday. As Philip Stadter put it in his note to the text, "He was at the high point of his career." I thought, while I keyed this, "probably had Saturn culminating on his midheaven."

For that is what culminating Saturn represents. Usually it is a time when we're at our most public, have our greatest responsibilities, when we have the most people reporting to us, when we're working hardest. Often it coincides with that long-sought promotion or victory. New responsibilities can come on suddenly, although not, as a rule, unexpectedly, since Saturn is all about earned rewards. Astrologer Zipporah Dobyns calls it "the report-card planet."

So here I am with culminating Saturn--where's my triumph? Where are the accolades and kudos? It's not likely they lie anywhere this side of completion and publication of The Mission, and not much more likely they lie on the far side either, although I believe my work can touch a large audience--possibly a very large one. Once again I felt I was running late. I'm behind. There was Pompey, at age 45, younger than I am...

This is nuts. Comparing myself with Pompey (and look how he ended up). Pompey, for his part, compared himself to Alexander the Great (and look how he ended up). I know it's nuts. But moods are not banished by simple truisms.

I became depressed. Looking ahead to Saturn's further progress, it will be going opposite my sun and conjunct my moon by summer. Those are hard transits: obstruction, frustration, low energy, low self-worth, feelings of failure. It's as though I can taste them already...

Well, I never got back to Chapter 14. Better luck tomorrow.


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