by Sarah A. Hoyt
Every culture seems to have an inflection point in the year, when the old is tossed out, old sins and misdeeds absolved, and the opportunity for new life at least extended.
Sometimes this is religious, sometimes secular, and sometimes “yes.”
Where I come from it is very much “yes” the inflection point of the year coming around Summer solstice, under the guise of celebrating Sao Joao (the Saint John of the Bible, at least theoretically, though the way he’s celebrated seems to hark to much older Celtic celebrations.)
I remember being very young – before I was allowed to take the train downtown and join the throngs dancing in the streets (an event so little publicized that dazed tourists dancing along wondering what they fell into is almost traditional), slowly crossing the city to the seaside, to see the sunrise over the ocean – and helping people in the neighborhood bring things out to the little plaza outside my grandmother’s house, to make a huge bonfire in which to “burn the old” and with which to welcome the new.
I found it highly amusing to find in I Shall Wear Midnight mention of the old marriage rite of the North of Portugal – marriage by jumping over the Summer Solstice fire. (Though not surprising. To an extent the culture is not so far different.) That too, is an inflection point, a form of new beginning.
It is gratifying that in my new home, the Fourth of July – another way to do away with the old and usher in the new – takes place around the same time. It took has ceremonies centering on fire, (both barbecues and fireworks, both of which I’m deprived of this year, since the state is too dry for fire.)
The event the Fourth celebrates, though, it is important to note, was once occasion of real fire – and blood, sweat and tears too.
It is often forgotten that, though softened in modern rites, the Summer Solstice was ALSO a time of sacrifice. The old must day so the new must live.
As the Sons of Liberty (both historical and the future ones in my future history, actually – Particularly A Few Good men) would tell you, the new is always purchased in pain and blood. And the old fights to remain.
Right now in publishing we too are at an inflection point – the new just barely glimpsed over the range, and the old fighting with all its might to survive, even if it hurts the new in doing so.
Revolutions are exciting in the rearview mirror. They are scary and painful to live through.
And yet, I believe that through all the convulsions and despite some very rough times ahead, we will emerge, eventually, into a better place. I believe at this inflection point, the new start we make has a chance of being a turn for the much better… And the bonfire will burn away what has enslaved writers for so long.
On this day when those of us in the USA celebrate our beginning, let’s hope the new beginnings of indie freedom will also – once the blood, sweat and tears settle – bring writers life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.