Tuesday 27 September 2016

#WEPff #GuestPost--Nilanjana Bose--A brief history of CONSTELLATIONS--and some exciting news!

On October 1, the inLinkz list goes up, with calls for submissions for the Write...Edit...Publish (WEP) October challenge. This challenge gives you a choice:

You can write to the CONSTELLATIONS challenge, or
you can write to the HALLOWEEN challenge, or
you can be very clever and combine the two.

Go HERE to read more about these challenges.

REMEMBER: We accept flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photographs/photo essays, artwork. Written work needs to be 1,000 words or under to help with reading time.

We award 3 places for the best entries: overall WINNER (who receives a $10 Amazon Gift Card), the RUNNER UP and the ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD.

If you are the winner, you are offered an opportunity to write a guest post before the next challenge.


Poet and fiction author Nilanjana Bose was the winner for the August GARDENS challenge, with her amazing poem, Point me to...

Today, we open the WEP site to Nilanjana...

Thank you, Denise and Yolanda and hello all WEP-ers! I am so thrilled to be here talking about ‘constellations’ which is one of the prompts for October.

The night sky has fascinated humans from time immemorial with its magnificence and vastness.  Ancient peoples looked to the stars as harbingers of seasons and for navigation across featureless lands or seascapes. They wove them into myth and folklore, faith and spirituality.  Constellations are imaginary star patterns the ancient humans drew connecting clusters of the brighter stars. 

The earliest written star catalogues go back to around 1200 BCE in Mesopotamia.  Around the same time, an astronomy system was developed in the Indus Valley Civilisation, though no written records of it survive.  The alignment of various ancient monuments to stars and planetary bodies tells us both of the fascination for them, and the sophisticated techniques the builders employed. Stonehenge in UK and the Giza Pyramids are just two examples where the skies have influenced buildings on earth; there are many others throughout the world. 

Each ancient civilisation from the earliest known times has left behind evidence of the importance of the stars.  Heck, notched bone sticks from Africa as old as 37,000 years indicate they were used to tell the phases of the moon. Even when he couldn’t write or do any maths, Man (or Woman for all we know, women have an innate biological connection to the lunar month) was tracking the skies.  Someone was keeping records of celestial events, even in prehistory.

Originally, the study of stars was possible only through what was visible to the naked eye.  Mostly plotting the stars and charting their courses and those of the sun, moon and the planets.  A branch of astronomy that is now called astrometry.  How the celestial bodies slotted into the universe as a whole was constructed through a philosophical exploration.  By the early medieval period, the ideas from Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, India and Greece had been pulled together into a geocentric theory which assumed that the Sun revolved around the Earth.

In the medieval period the learning centres shifted from Europe east to Persia, the Levant, India and further into China. Sophisticated mathematics and engineering skills, and the setting up of new observatories in the Islamic Empire led to a manifold growth in knowledge.  The astrolabe was developed in Islamic Spain and introduced to other regions. Scholars identified and recorded new stars and celestial phenomena, and even today many terms in astronomy – azimuth, nadir, zenith - have their roots in Arabic and Persian language. Omar Khayyam, more famously known for his Rubaiyat the world over, was also an astronomer-mathematician and knew more about the ‘flight’ of stars than he let on in his poetry –

Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

Astronomy underwent a sensational sea-change in Renaissance Europe.  Copernicus proposed Heliocentrism, which was expanded and defended first by Kepler and then by Galileo with his newly invented telescope. However, this was controversial at the time - the Catholic Church ruled it heresy. Galileo was forced to recant and died an outcast alone in his home near Florence.  It took more than a century for his views to become widely accepted.  Today he is revered as the ‘father of observational astronomy.’

Predictably, my own top-of-mind reaction to ‘constellations’ is the memory of poems. Another one is Escape at Bedtime by R.L. Stevenson, published in 1913.  The final stanza –

The Dog, and the Plough, and the Hunter, and all,
      And the star of the sailor, and Mars,
These shone in the sky, and the pail by the wall
      Would be half full of water and stars.
They saw me at last, and they chased me with cries,
      And they soon had me packed into bed;
But the glory kept shining and bright in my eyes,
      And the stars going round in my head.

Poetry and stars/constellations go together like…chicken tikka masala and naan. However, constellations and stars pervade not just poetry but all spheres of art and literature, from Shakespeare to John Green via Van Gogh, everywhere you look you’ll see a million examples.  There are innumerable things to do with this prompt. The sky is literally the limit. Constellations can be tweaked to fit into any idea you may have.

Let’s take Romance.  Do the constellations work there? Yup, starlight and serenades, clandestine assignations, candle-lit dinners, I mean, darkened skies are almost a staple in love-stories.

Adventure? Yup. Think night, think navigation, think Ursa Minor or Crux. Constellations chart the course of our lives, they are the zodiac, fate, destiny, karma, repositories of mythology, they peg us to our own place in the vast scheme of things.

Crime/Mystery? Yes, of course, crime happens right under the noses of the stars most of the time!

Fantasy and speculative fiction? Yes again. And don’t let’s even start on Sci-Fi, more than half of which genre is based in inter-planetary/-galactic settings! There are constellations all around in deep space, no avoiding the things. 

And before I go, I’d just like to mention that constellation need not be of stars alone.  The word has been used as a name for paintings, music bands and albums, a cruise ship, an abandoned space exploration programme, books, films and journals.  Endless possibilities.  So bloggers, art-makers and story-tellers, let’s get the pencil points of imagination sharpened and put the prompt to work.  Can’t wait to read the results! Good luck! and see you soon…

Thank you Nilanjana!

Now we haven't forgotten about HALLOWEEN!

It's time to scare us silly! Give us your best 'Booooooo!' 
Have you got a scary story, fictional or real? 
Have you got a scary poem?
Have you got a scary image?
Make sure we can't get to sleep after reading  your entry! Send our scare-o-metre to the stratosphere!

If you can scare us while writing about CONSTELLATIONS, you're a genius of the first order!

Sign up October 1st
Post October 19 - 21

Now, let's wrap up with some exciting news!

Most of you would understand that running WEP takes a huge commitment. So that we can continue this vibrant writing community, Yolanda and I have added two more talented writers to our team, Olga Godim and Nilanjana Bose. If you don't know Olga and Nilanjana, please visit their blogs and say hi.

Olga has taken to making badges for the challenges and now will be creating the winners' badges also, and any other badges we need.

Nilanjana has been tasked with coming up with suggested challenges for 2017. She workshops them with what I'm calling the Gang of Four, and when we reach agreement, they will be announced around the December challenge.

So we'd appreciate your welcoming Olga and Nila to the WEP team. Their involvement will lead to bigger and better things in the future.

Please help spread the word for our October challenges. Copy and paste the badges onto your blogs. Share via social media. Encourage your writer friends to take part.

Announce the Guest Post by Nilanjana Bose
and introduce our October Challenge!
We'd love if you'd Tweet one of these:

A WEP Guest post featuring Nilanjana Bose @DeniseCCovey & @YolandaRenee http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2016/09/wepff-guestpost-nilanjana-bose-brief.html #WEPFF

A WEP Flash Fiction Challenge - the prompt is Constellations & Halloween @DeniseCCovey & @YolandaRenee http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2016/09/wepff-guestpost-nilanjana-bose-brief.html #WEPFF

What's your October inspiration? The stars or the supernatural or both? @DeniseCCovey & @YolandaRenee http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2016/09/wepff-guestpost-nilanjana-bose-brief.html #WEPFF


  1. I am so glad to hear that the WEP team has been expanded - and with such stellar performers too.
    Loved Nilanjana's guest post too. Of course. It set my mind wondering and filled in some of the chasms which exist within it.

    1. Thanks for coming by, Sue. An early riser too? I think Nilajana has given us some great food for thought about CONSTELLATIONS. I hope you can join us!

    2. Please join us! and I am hoping you'll somehow work in some of those amazing photos of yours into the entry. Thank you for your warm words.

  2. I went with a myth for mine and combined Halloween too. Can't stump me at my sea.

    1. Congrats to the new additions to the team too.

    2. Thanks Pat! Glad you're all ready to scare us and inspire us.

    3. Thank you. Wow, that's amazing you're done already!

  3. This is an exciting one! I've been a stargazing geek since I was little, so this challenge definitely appeals to me!

    1. That's great LG. Looking forward to this one!

    2. Agree about the excitement. Can't wait to read what a stargazer makes of this prompt!

  4. Honoured and excited to be playing a wider role at WEP!...Thanks once again.

  5. That was some interesting research Nila. And congrats to Nila and Olga (hmm, is it rhyme time, lol) on becoming a member of the WEP team. You go Girls.

    Hi Denise and Yolanda :)

    1. Thanks for coming by, Donna. Hope you find a minute to join us with something scary!

    2. Thanks Donna! Hoping you'll treat us to something totally terrifying :)

  6. Hi Denise and Yolanda - well done on bringing in Nila and Olga - who I've yet to meet .. I will. Gosh I see Tycho Brahe with his moustache and prosthetic nose in the column next to me as I type this up!

    Excellent post on Constellations and the night sky - that world is our oyster for ideas ... I'm a-thinking on my approach.

    Wonderful to read and to see the commitment of the WEP team to all writers ... cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks for your warm comments, as always, Hilary! Yes, that Tycho Brahe is a character, isn't he?

      I'm sure you'll come up with something amazing, Hilary!

    2. Tycho was originally part of this post, but got chopped out in the interest of brevity and readability :) thought I'd just mention it, and also that the non-fiction potential of constellations is even vaster than the fictional one...

  7. Hi Nila,
    You did a fantastic job of telling us about constellations. Oh yes, as soon as I read about this combination challenge ideas sprang into my mind as if the Big Dipper decided to dump out his contents. So I had to start writing right away. It's not done yet but if certainly will be in time for the challenge. I'm not giving anything away. See you all soon.

    1. Nancy I'm glad you're excited by this prompt. Can't wait to read it!

    2. Hi Nancy,

      Cool that you're writing straightaway, looking forward to the results! The Halloween month has seen some of the most interesting entries in the past. Sure this one will be no different. See you soon!

  8. An inspirational post by Nila, and I love that she included the info about how our early scientists were mistreated by those who knew less but had more power. Congrats to Olga and Nila for joining your team and for helping keep the challenge afloat. I'm interested in the Constellations prompt - so I'll be working on it. . .

    1. That is a profoundly true observation DG, those with greater power and poorer knowledge always end up mistreating the ones with greater knowledge and/or questioning minds. Constellations is an amazing prompt to work to. So looking forward to the reads next month...

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