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An Author's Survival Guide to Mercury Retrograde!

Updated on September 15, 2015

What the heck is Mercury Retrograde?

I generally try not to be superstitious, but the effects of Mercury Retrograde is one of those beliefs I just can't shake. If you're wondering what the heck is Mercury Retrograde, it's a three-week period that occurs a few times each year, when the planet Mercury appears to be traveling backwards in the sky. Since Mercury (or Hermes, in the Greek variation) is the messenger god of communication and travel, when his planet's in retrograde, all heck seems to break loose with things like communication, writing, travel plans, and electronics.

No, there isn't any hard science to it, but let me just put it this way: The worst summer of my life - when I was fifteen years old and kicked out of my house after my entire family read my LiveJournal - happened during the Mercury Retrograde. My bad car accident, wherein the car was totaled and I was helicoptered to the emergency room, unconscious? Retrograde. The month I queried over 150 agents and publishers, only to receive over 150 rejection letters? Yup, you guessed it - Mercury was in retrograde.

As the years pass, I grow more sensitive to its "shadow," which is the week or days leading up to the retrograde. At the time of writing this Hub, on 15 September 2015, we are two days away from the next one, which will last from 17 September to 9 October. Already, my son missed his first two days of school due to sudden illness, my family's plane to visit me was delayed twice, a friend of mine accidentally missed an appointment with another friend of mine... and the list of unusual delays and miscommunications continues.

So, what's an author to do?

Astrologers and followers of astrology like to joke that they simply go into "hermit mode" and never want to leave the house during a retrograde. But of course, life must go on. The advice during this time is pretty straightforward: don't make any important commitments, don't sign any contracts or agreements, don't purchase expensive electronics or cars, or begin new contracts. The belief is that, as soon as Mercury moves forward again, your new car or laptop might malfunction, or you'll realize something crucial in the fine print that you missed.

But, as an author of countless manuscripts who's in a constant state of writing, outlining new projects, querying and submitting, and publishing new material, all with the greatest hope for more contracts and more story ideas, what on earth am I supposed to do during a retrograde? Stay out of my office? Impossible. I work 8 days a week, with every spare moment I can snatch. I am not going to waste three weeks of work just because of some silly superstition (that just happens to constantly come true for me).

So, the following is my "survival guide" for superstitious authors like me during Mercury retrograde.

Retrograde Survival Tips

1. Do what starts with "Re".
The word "retrograde" starts with the letters R-E. So, during one is a good time to do other things that start with re, such as revise, revisit, refresh, rejuvenate and reread! While you may not want to begin a whole new project, go back and revisit an old one, or revamp and revise any previously published material for re-release. You can even take a break! But if you're like me and physically incapable of taking a break, you can work on updating or re-releasing older titles, editing published blog entries, and the like.

2. Read!
"Read" also starts with re! Now is a great time to read other books! I look at reading novels as "recharging my batteries;" it fills me up with new vocabulary, writing styles and story inspiration for my future works. So, wind down the writing and outlining and take time to tick those untouched titles off your to-read list.

3. Don't sign contracts or publishing agreements.
If it can wait until after the retrograde, then wait before you sign that new offer letter or addendum. However, if it can't wait and you absolutely must sign a contract, then make sure you read over everything VERY carefully, and ensure you don't miss anything.

4. Olive oil
Daub a little olive oil on your wrists. I know this is rather witchy of me, but it makes me feel better. Olive leaves or branches have long been associated with peace and avoiding conflict. If you're a glutton for symbolism (or hey, if you really believe in magick - I ain't judgin'), apply some olive oil during the retrograde to counteract its more chaotic or argument-inducing qualities.

5. Expect imperfection; keep calm and learn something new.
I think because, this time, I was aware of the retrograde impending and have really felt its shadow lately, I was able to keep calm and not panic when these little dwips and blips have come up for me in the last week. As aforementioned, my son had to miss his first days of school, my family's airplane was delayed, one of my next book releases is about to get delayed... But instead of being upset, I've been conditioned almost to expect these occurrences at this time. I've handled them calmly, knowing things will go back to normal in October.

In addition, I've been trying to find the lessons, and interpret each interruption as a learning experience. For example, as per my son's sudden illness, who knew he'd recently developed an allergy to strawberries? It's necessary to know, and I'm glad we found out, even if it meant missing school. Leave it to a period of retrograde's shadow for him to wake up at 6 AM puking strawberries all over my bed, though!


How do you plan on dealing with the upcoming retrograde?

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