Sunday, January 3, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Seven of Swords

If there is anything I have learned during my time as an author, it is this: the publishing industry is run on exchange. If you want to write books for yourself and yourself alone, buy a journal, a pretty one that you can keep in a locked drawer. If you want to write for an audience, get ready to submit (and I mean that word in all its permutations and connotations).

We write manuscripts, and then those manuscripts are offered to publishers and editors, to agents and readers, to critique partners and contest judges. Our work is split open on various altars, whether to commodification or beautification or good old professionalism. And in return, at the end of this process, we receive our rewards. Reviews. Recommendations. Connections. Perhaps even — hopefully, maybe, miraculously — a little financial recompense.

It's an age-old cycle, this trading of goods and services. For as long as there have been artists and writers and creative works, there has been a market for such. And our sneak thief this week has had it with the whole shebang.

Of course, to call him a thief is to presume that the swords he is so stealthily carting away don't belong to him already. Perhaps he is simply reclaiming what was rightfully his in the first place, which makes this a mission of liberation, not larceny. The image is open to interpretation, and that's what you must do this week.

Contemplate the Larger Enterprise of which you are a part — has something of creative value been taken from you (or vice versa, it must be admitted)? What means justify the ends of getting it back? What steps should you take to correct this imbalance? And what exactly is it that's been (or is being) snatched away? Better figure that one out before you raise the hue and cry. Or before you tiptoe past the guards with your arms full of purloined steel.

I'll just look the other way while you decide. And if anyone asks, I'll say I didn't see a thing.

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