Writing Birthday


I sit down and write to you today, on my 39th birthday, as an intention-setting ritual.

It is said that you should spend your birthday engaged in the activities you seek to fill your year with. Writing is my job, my calling, my talent, and my preferred mode of self-expression. I hope that, by dedicating my birthday morning to this written self-reflection, I am carving out a larger channel through which further writings may pour out over the months to come.

Since I regularly produce copious amounts of verbiage for this website ('my baby'), I suppose I am quite lucky I don't really experience that dreaded condition known as writer's block. Having a weekly deadline, even if self-imposed (though collectively enforced by the many who email me whenever I post my horoscopes slightly later than usual), helps combat that. To decide I just 'cannot' write is a luxury I do not have… and that helps kicks my butt into motion, whenever the inner critic starts demanding attention.

Anybody who meets regular deadlines for their creative work must confront the realization that every finished product will not be their best. Sometimes, we've got to settle for adequate. Sometimes, we just have to get the job done. There is no time to strive for super-human perfection. People are counting on us to fulfill our end of the contract. Chances are, others will not be nearly as fault-finding about what we ended up producing as we are. Hell, they might not even notice that unsightly blemish we ourselves cannot stop staring at and harshly judging. And even if they do, we need not take any of their negative feedback to heart.

In recent months, I must admit, I have struggled to sustain an inspired feeling about the other writing I do in addition to my horoscopes (which pretty much always flow smoothly and easily), including these blog posts as well as my non-astrobarry-related endeavors. It is not that I cannot produce this work. Instead, it's more that I want what I write to actually matter to me… and if I feel it doesn't, I'm not especially moved to bother putting in the effort. I recall three different instances in the past several months when I started writing a piece but, halfway through, chose not to finish it because I perceived it as inconsequential or lifeless. I do not regret those decisions, though they've left me with both a slimmer body of recent work and a bundle of squandered hours.

As I get older and theoretically wiser, I am increasingly less satisfied by filling space with obligatory writing exercises. I will always be able to string words together in clever ways, but that skill, in itself, does not automatically spawn excellent writing. For lack of a better term, it's that elusive quality of heart which must be present in a piece I write, if I'm going to walk away proud of my work. Clever writing can be entertaining, sure. But writing with heart actually touches people… and can even help change lives.

Fairly early in my writing career, I learned much about this distinction as I read the work of certain smarty-pants writers and noticed an odd emotional shallowness to their brilliant turns-of-phrases. I also detected this same drift in some of my own writing, as I heaped alliterative adverb upon ancillary adjective in a move to cryptically conceal my own tender vulnerabilities. But why else would someone follow a path of creative self-expression if not to reveal a vulnerable side, to connect with other alienated human misfits on a true soul level? Many of my creative challenges have since centered on striving to expose myself in one emotionally resonant manner or another, in incessant violation of my naturally chilly Aquarian tendencies.

A great irony of my present life-circumstance is that I have less time than I'd like to 'live the writer's life' (i.e., to balance the production of heartfelt written work with the necessary down-time to creatively explore the world and meditate on what I discover) now that I am a successful entrepreneur and, yes, paid writer. All those years ago, lacking sufficient confidence in the heartfulness of my writing to pursue The Path of The Writer, I instead built dual careers as astrologer and business-owner… neither of which holds the slightest tinge of regret, both of which continue to provide me joyful fodder for growth and great insight into the human condition. Yet, I find myself at a spot where these maturing successes require me to manage my way out of day-to-day subservience to them, by delegating tasks and building better boundary-structures, so I may devote more of my daily energy to sharing what's in my heart. Any number of individuals could file paperwork, schedule appointments, pay bills, and handle accounting data-entry. Only I can write what only I can write.

Astrologically speaking, I have felt this pinch exacerbate since Saturn entered Scorpio last October. My natal Sun, Venus, and Mercury are all within the earlier part of Aquarius… and thus receiving obstructive squares from karmic-overlord Saturn, inhibiting their ability to exude their natural glow unless quite a bit of extra exertion is expended. As if that weren't enough, my natal Mars in Taurus (which squares my natal Mercury almost exactly) also faces an opposition from Saturn, within the very degree of Saturn's station a month from now. Without a doubt, these transits are among the most difficult I've faced in some time, requiring serious conscientious reflection on what exactly makes me uniquely me and how to behave in order to best express it.

Saturn squares and opposes my natal planets from my 5th house, the sector of both personal pleasure and authentic self-expression, which only further emphasizes that I'm at a tough turning-point with regards to confronting blocks to my creative process. More broadly, Saturn's transit through the 5th is typically experienced as something of a killjoy: the planet representing the personal work we must do is moving through the house of fun and play, raining on the parade, making it harder to derive enjoyment out of just anything. Only that which is genuinely our type of enjoyable activity will yield the uplifting outcome; everything else falls somewhat flat. Not only have I found less creative fulfillment from writing that doesn't actually come from my heart (leading to fewer finished pieces, an apt reflection of Saturn's constraining influence), I've even received fewer flirtatious smiles from strangers than usual. Each burst of pleasure, it seems, is hard-earned. Thankfully, astrology's golden rule will ultimately save the day again: This too shall pass.

As I wrap up this saturnine reflection (so I may move on to other birthday intention-setting rituals), though, I am feeling one of these hard-earned bursts of pleasure. I did sit down to write from my heart, and I am happy with both the process and the product. I earned that happiness. This is authentically me, and sharing it with you is what I'm meant to do. I know that to be true.

And to you, dear reader, on the occasion of my 39th birthday: I once again owe you endless gratitude for your part in my writerly life. That you are reading this affirms my commitment to continuing to bother. Though I wish I could write you more words with more heart (and more clever turns-of-phrase) more often, please know I am presently embroiled in the personal work necessary to unencumber myself enough to do just that. In the meantime, I pledge to keep transparently describing the inner trials I face in my evolution as a creative human soul, lest any of you out there seeking to similarly evolve in your life-circumstances dare to look at what I accomplish and falsely assume I've done so without deep struggle. As humans, we share this struggle. Happy birthday, then, to all of us… each and every day. :)