• Caitlin Keely Gemmell

The autumn routine of a writer, reflections on August, and a nighttime ritual.

September has transformed the landscape of my hilltop home lavender and gold. Though the world is still so topsy-turvy, I’m finding comfort in my familiar writing routine. I awaken early to the sound of many songbirds (and the occasional grunt from Lucy—the pot-bellied pig who adopted us last year), and put the kettle on. I write my morning pages as I drink that first cup of tea of the day.


My morning pages might look very different from yours, and that’s okay. Some mornings, I record my nighttime dreams before they float away like clouds drifting across the sky. At times, I only manage to record my dreams, but more often than not I free write until my son needs his breakfast and I’m forced to put pen and journal away for the day.

My recent morning pages have contained snippets of writing I intend on weaving into my current novel-in-progress, Finding the Bird Whisperer.

For those of you not familiar with it, Finding the Bird Whisperer is about a selkie living as a human in a crumbling gatehouse in the English countryside. Her sealskin was stolen by someone long ago. She’d just about given up on ever getting it back, but a message arrives from her selkie family, asking for help. She’s not sure how she’s going to track down the thief, until her housemate’s brother arrives, offering an intriguing solution to her problem. But, as is often the case in a story, this solution brings a trail of other problems I won’t go into now.

I suppose you could call it contemporary folklore, or fantasy which takes place in a real world setting (for a lot of the book at least).


Anyway... you can read the first three chapters (rough, very rough still) here! Let me know your thoughts if you do.

Besides sharing a bit of my novel with you, I wanted to share memories of August, and my favorite moments of September thus far.


It's a beautiful feeling when the fictitious world of my imagination collides with the real world. This happened last month when, around my birthday, I received not one, but two fledgling birds to look after. My book is called Finding the Bird Whisperer after all, and indeed I felt like a bird whisperer last month.


The first bird was a cedar waxwing. She was only in my care for a few hours. It was wonderful reuniting her with her parents.


My heart was so full of gratitude when I watched both parents attend to her needs--flying off to a nearby raspberry bush and returning with sustenance for baby.


The second bird was a goldfinch who ended up staying with me for a few days. She spent a lot of time curled up in the woolen nest I made long ago, or else tangled in my hair or perched on my fingers. She's the one in the picture above. It was bittersweet, watching her fly away. She was obviously ready, but her sudden flight startled me and I wasn't prepared to say goodbye. I find myself thinking of her quite a bit, and hoping she is well.


And then, August melted into September. It's been a wonderful month, so far. My son's homeschool year has started, so we're easing into a more structured routine once more. I thrive on routine (as does he), so it's making our lives much easier to have certain rituals we complete every day.


One of my favorite rituals is the bedtime hair brushing one. My son has long, blond, gorgeous hair. He's also a sensitive soul. Every evening, after he brushes his teeth and changes into his pajamas, but before I read his bedtime story, I sit down with him and brush his hair. I spray an essential oil mist on his hair to help with the tangles, and then I brush away all the negative energies from the day. As I brush I focus on releasing all of the energy he has acquired that doesn't belong to him. Once I feel it has been released, I shake his hair, and then brush a few more times. As I brush, I envision a golden-protective light surrounding him.


It's a simple, but effective ritual. Try it and see.


Well, the hour is late, and I have those daily chores (that never seem to go away no matter how much I wish otherwise) to attend to. I wish you a peaceful day, wherever you happen to be and whatever hour it is in your corner of the world.



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