Monday, August 22, 2011

Is the Publishing Industry on Your Last Nerve? Fool's Journey, Week 14

Ay yi yi! What's a writer to do? We are at the mercy of Dr. Seuss's Push-Me-Pull-You beast. Traditional publishing or self publishing? They're both major players in the publishing industry nowadays. Do we ask for a push into the insecure, prickly world of traditional publishing with its hidden trap doors over sour grapes, and no decent advance, but the chance to work with still-present angels who will help us weather the storms affecting the industry with dignity and success? Or do we let ourselves be pulled into the seductive realms of self publishing where we can get our work out there when we want to, but without it being honed in the high-quality fires of the traditional publishing industry? With self-pubbing we can potentially create our own fabulous success if we work like crazy at marketing and all the stars align just so in the night sky. These days it seems like a big gamble either way. How do we proceed? We are writers, not publishing gurus.

It might help to remember that our turmoils and toils are not new in the world of personal journeys. In fact, they are the stuff of legend, the heart of darkness in every hero's journey. As long as we are engaged in this battle for self-expression and success, we are living the hero's journey. It's an intense, powerful process with no easy answers, but if you are planning to succeed, you must not lose your resolve. A flinch here, an exhausted flop into coma-like sleep there to revive the synapses, are acceptable. You don't have to be a superhero. But you do have to persevere, and pay attention while you're at it.

If you're ready for a little metaphysical support to buoy your exhausted neural pathways, Tarot's Fool has this bit of wisdom to share from his journey to wholeness.

The Fool has just emerged from Death's grip (aka rejections, not a damn thing working right, self-doubt on a monstrous scale). He's been transformed by new insights and given new strength. He had to give up who he used to be to gain this purchase. He had to burn his old self to the ground, but in that sacrifice he found his True North and rose like a phoenix from the ashes (Fool's Journey,Week 13).

He's wondering how to reconcile the opposites he's facing now, though. He knows what he wants to do, knows that it is truly within him to do it, and is toiling away to succeed. He's achieved moral victory by identifying and nurturing that within him which is worthy, but he wants more. And that's where the opposite of his enthusiasm and hard-won confidence comes into the picture. He still faces blank obstacles to translating his spiritual success into material success.

He glances up, and there, on the path in front of him, is a winged figure standing with one foot in a brook and the other on a rock, pouring something from one flask to another in either hand. This is Temperance. Fascinated, he moves closer to the creature and sees that what is being poured from one flask is fire, while water flows from the other. The fire and the water are blending!

"How can you mix fire and water?" The Fool whispers.

"You must have the right vessels and the right proportions," Temperance answers.

"But . . ." The Fool stares, but his eyes do not deceive him. "Can this be done with all opposites?" he asks.

"Oh, yes," Temperance says, "any oppositions can be made to harmonize. It is only a lack of will and a disbelief in the possibility of unity that keeps opposites, opposite. When you find the right proportions and the right vessels, you create possibility, alchemy." She sees that The Fool is not convinced. "Think of the bow and arrow," she says. "When you use them together, one is moving, one is stationary. Opposites. But they work in harmony."

Yes, The Fool thinks. The bow and arrow are useless apart, but together they are a formidable weapon. He begins to see that he is the one who has held his spiritual growth and his material growth apart. He had to, to find his grounding, but he has the power to merge the two worlds. All it takes is the right vessels, and the right proportions.

The message is the same for us. As writers, we can easily get lost in our imaginary world of ideas, feelings and craft, or be pulled completely away into the world of hard material reality, but the fact is that the whole world, spiritual and material, is there for us and always has been. Once we are firmly grounded in our craft, it's time to open our arms to possibilities, because at some point they are going to fly in. We need to recognize the ones we want and to know how to blend them.

That means being aware of and paying attention to our own needs: do we love or hate the idea of doing our own marketing, and having more or less control over our own publishing process? Are we comfortable, and/or thankful to have others to do the job professionally for us if they've got a good record? Do we feel the quality-of-the-writing support offered by the traditional industry is important to our work?

We have our core to guide us because we've spent time becoming writers who are ready for publication and have had to find that core. In all the shedding of things that no longer work for us, we have not given up Strength (Fool's Journey, Week 8). With self-understanding and strength, we can blend fire and water--combine what we've always wanted with what's available and making sense for us. We can string our bow, position our arrow, and let it soar. No one decision is going to do us in. We have more arrows in our quiver.

Links to Fool's Journey posts:  0—The Fool1—The Magician2—The High Priestess3—The Empress4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant6—The Lovers; 7—The Chariot8—Strength9—The Hermit; 10—Wheel of Fortune11—Justice12—The Hanged Man; 13—Death

My interpretation of The Fool's Journey as it applies to the writing life is my own, but the journey is long-established from a variety of sources. Those I've relied on most heavily are: TAROT BASICS by Burger & Fiebig, AECLECTIC TAROT by Thirteen, and EVERYDAY TAROT by Fairfield


  1. This is just the message I needed to read. I've been exploring the idea of taking more control of my writing based on my experiences in the last couple of years. I've decided to take the leap of faith. I do know what I have and what's available to me. I just need to get moving faster that I am right now.

  2. Fantastic, J.L.! You must come back and tell us what leap of faith you made, and how it goes for you.

  3. LOTS to think about here...

  4. So true, Laura. And we have to be ready to hear it and use it. sigh.

  5. I love this! It was exactly what I needed today. And I missed the Fool and his adventures!

  6. I'm so glad it worked for you, Heather! Yeah, the poor Fool really had to rest up after that rising from the ashes thing--that was exhausting!!

  7. Linda, Thank you so much for realigning me with the fool. You know exactly the decision I made today... and it was before I read this! I was the fool, torn in both directions and today I made my decision. Once again, he and I are on the same path.
    Thank you for a great post!!

  8. Some good stuff here...and I'm going to find my arrow in my quiver.

  9. Terrific post, Linda.

    We are all teetering these days on which way to go with our novels. I myself have decisions to make soon.

    I have so enjoyed how you tie your lessons to the fool. These posts have been cleverly written and you insight and wisdom are priceless.

    Thank you so much.

  10. It's amazing how your path's timing is so close to that of these posts, Karlene! Karmic, you might say. Congrats on making your decision!!

  11. Pull out that silver-tipped one, Em. Always a good one to start with! Thanks for dropping by.

  12. Thank YOU, Michael. You are always inspiring.