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To Write or Not to Write…

2011 was a pretty fun year.  A bit frustrating at times, quite challenging at others.  I found myself teaching more, which was something I had missed greatly during the first couple years I was in San Diego, and it also saw me finally finishing and releasing my first tarot book, something I’d been working on for quite a while in theory but never on paper.  It’s been sort of surreal to have that book done because I keep a copy at my desk and I actually refer to it a lot.  It’s a little weird to want to reference something and look for it in your own book.  I ended up having a moment of realizing that, while I ultimately wanted to write that book in order to have a more solid platform for teaching tarot students, it really ended up being something I needed to do in order to get my own tarot beliefs and practices down in a single place and in a clear way (although I am well aware that I need to set some time aside this spring to work on a second edition with some edits…lol).  But now I’m thinking, what next?

Last night while Devin was heading home from the shop he called me and we were talking about a bunch of different things and one of the things that he brought up was that he wanted me to consider writing a book for an actual publisher.  UGH…not again.  But, as my best friend he is allowed to tell me something I have heard before, at at length, so I let him explain his position before I did my usual “Yeah, that’s never going to happen” retort (or as Devin would probably say, in typical Aries fashion I used my ram horns to attempt to knock down that idea).  This is something I’ve struggled with for a while.  Should I or shouldn’t I?  For three years I sat with a set of Llewellyn submission guidelines on my desk thinking about what I wanted to do with them.  Do I want to write a query letter, submit a proposal, or just start writing something? And what do I have to write about?  I mean, I have a list of things I could write about, but where would I even start with it?

Yeah, it's pretty. But I'm not much of a fan of what's inside it.

This is where I also started to struggle a bit.  As someone who has been reading, studying, and practicing Pagansim and Witchcraft for 25+ years now I have read books from all sorts of publishers that work with these new age and occult areas.  Llewellyn tends to get the worst rap.  And really I think there are some merits to some of the comments people make about some of the books that they release; pretty covers but lacking in content.  And then you have some authors, like my friend and teacher Christopher Penczak, who writes stuff that, in my opinion, sets the bar much higher for what you might expect from there.  So I’m torn.  There’s sort of an automatic response of “Oh, it’s a Llewellyn book” by many people which is less than desirable.

On the flip side I don’t intent to write something that is really Red Wheel/Weiser material (at least not any time soon) and some of the other new age and occult publishers I just don’t want to deal with.  Publishing a book through someone like Llewellyn would only do one real thing and that’s help me with getting my name out there to a larger audience.  Traditional publishing doesn’t net a lot of money, despite what a lot of people seem to think.  I have, so far, made decent money with my self-published work.  But, as I am well aware, and have always been aware, publishing a book is never about money.  It’s about sharing stories, knowledge, and perspectives.  And that’s truly what I desire to do; teaching and helping others is what I love most even though I definitely consider writing as my art and my way of best doing that.

And so therein lies the rub, as they say.  Do I decide to finally write something with the intention of doing it for a “real” publisher or do I stick to my convictions of “I want to do it my way” and keep plugging away at trying to get the Pagan community’s attention on my own?

This isn't doing too bad...

The other issue is the true conundrum; what am I going to write about?  What can I write about that hasn’t already be written?  What do I have to add to something that’s new and unique?  This is one of the biggest issues with rejection in the non-fiction world; if you don’t have something unique and new to add to a subject then a publisher isn’t going to be interested in taking the time, effort, and money in order to publish something that regurgitates another author’s work.  That is my biggest worry.  I don’t want to write spell books, though I could certainly do that.  I don’t want to write about Wicca specifically because I’m not Wiccan.  I would be able to write a more general book on Witchcraft and personal practice but my biggest concern there is that anything I write would sound so my like something Christopher would say that it wouldn’t have a real uniqueness to it.  And this isn’t just because I’ve been studying with him for 3 years but because I have always found, even before then, that when I would read his books or take his classes and workshops that he was saying things that mirrored my own thoughts, ideas, and teachings so closely.  In fact, funny as it was, a few weeks ago on the radio show after something I said Devin’s response was “Wow, that was so Temple of Witchcraft.”  The truth is my personal views were that way before I even got involved with ToW.

So I don’t know what to do.  I know that Devin probably is right.  And I should make this a big part of my work for the year.  But I am having those feelings of not knowing where to start or what to do.  I can tell there’s some magick to be done here too.  I just have to figure out which of the many hurdles I need to get over with this is the one I need to deal with first.

If anyone wants to toss some suggestions my way, I’d be more than happy to hear them!  😀

Comments

  1. David Salisbury says

    I’m excited to hear what publishing path you take, Rowan. In finishing my own book and entering the editing process, I’m already starting to ask myself these same questions about my next work. Thanks for communicating them so eloquently. I share the same concerns/aspirations. In my research, it seems that query letters are most favored as they are low-commitment to the writer and generally easy to use as a starting place. Though its good to have some sort of general outline together I think. Its all very fascinating, the publishing topic.

  2. David Salisbury says

    I’m excited to hear what publishing path you take, Rowan. In finishing my own book and entering the editing process, I’m already starting to ask myself these same questions about my next work. Thanks for communicating them so eloquently. I share the same concerns/aspirations. In my research, it seems that query letters are most favored as they are low-commitment to the writer and generally easy to use as a starting place. Though its good to have some sort of general outline together I think. Its all very fascinating, the publishing topic.

  3. David Salisbury says

    I’m excited to hear what publishing path you take, Rowan. In finishing my own book and entering the editing process, I’m already starting to ask myself these same questions about my next work. Thanks for communicating them so eloquently. I share the same concerns/aspirations. In my research, it seems that query letters are most favored as they are low-commitment to the writer and generally easy to use as a starting place. Though its good to have some sort of general outline together I think. Its all very fascinating, the publishing topic.

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Jess is a great teacher, as well as an insightful reading and a wonderful healer. Her lessons are informative and easy to understand. Her cards speak to her in a way that I hope mine will to me one day. I have also had a Chakra session and a Reiki session with her and afterward I felt at peace, balanced, and whole again (I was quite sick at the time). I trust very few people, and I follow my path alone, but I trust Jess. She’s a beautiful spirit.
When I started coaching with Jess I thought I was coming to her for help with a breakup and an unexpected and sudden international move. It turned out that wasn't the real issue at all! Jess asked questions I never would have thought to ask myself and gave me a whole new perspective on what was going on in my life. She made me feel like what I want matters. By the time we were done I felt like I could take on the world!

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When I started coaching with Jess I thought I was coming to her for help with a breakup and an unexpected and sudden international move. It turned out that wasn't the real issue at all! Jess asked questions I never would have thought to ask myself and gave me a whole new perspective on what was going on in my life. She made me feel like what I want matters. By the time we were done I felt like I could take on the world!
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