There has been a fascinating discussion in the comments on Linnea Sinclair's post:
That's the link to the comments page. If it doesn't work, try this:
There are 12 astute comments, so far, on Linnea Sinclair's THE BUDDY SYSTEM.
The basic subject of Linnea's post is how does an unknown, beginning fiction writer "break in" or make the contacts, get the advice, find the KEY to getting into the fiction publishing market. She gives very practical advice, all of which I heartily endorse - but being of the "brief is better" school of writing, she only tickles the surface of the real subject and never actually names that subject.
That tiptoe around the core of the matter has left some readers feeling bewildered about how to apply her advice. Of course, now I'm going to make everyone even more bewildered.
The philosophical or magical or even maybe religious category that The Buddy System discussion belongs to is all about the epistemological place of Giving and Receiving in your own life, and what that "place" has to do with your Art and how you "See" the Universe. All this philosophical fol-der-ol is just way too abstract to discuss.
Let's try Linnea Sinclair's advice in her post WE WAS HAPPY!
SHOW DON'T TELL THE INTANGIBLES OF EMOTION. (right, yeah, sooo easy)
So OK, let's get concrete instead of philosophical and abstract about "how to break in" to whatever field of Artistic Endeavor you aspire to.
My life has indeed been surpassing strange in this regard, which set my analytical mind off on an endless trek through Tarot and Astrology and Ancient Wisdom from a dozen or more cultures (a lot of which I've used as worldbuilding fodder for my novels).
Nobody could do it the way I did it. You can not follow in my footsteps. You can NOT do the actions I did and have your action produce the same result my action produced.
To readers of my series of posts on Tarot on this blog, that statement should immediately explain the point I'm trying to make with this post. If you "get it" you need not read any further.
This is the story of "how I did it" -- or no! It is the story of HOW IT HAPPENED TO ME.
And that's a key point I need to get across to any reader of this column trying to "break in" to any profession, but especially those involving The Arts.
Our scientific, Aristotelian Logic based, Hellenistically influenced, culture puts blinders on children early in life, to parse the universe ONLY in terms of cause and effect.
The ARTIST must throw off those blinders to understand the world via a different paradigm and explain that paradigm in their Art.
For my entire rant on Hellenistic traces in modern American culture, see my non-fiction book NEVER CROSS A PALM WITH SILVER, #1 in the NOT SO MINOR ARCANA series -- or subscribe to the rss feed for this blog for notification of when it will become newly available. (I hope.)
This rant is about a principle underlying the process of breaking into a commercial art field -- it applies to all the Arts, but it also applies to many other kinds of fields of endeavor because Art subsumes all human life. (because Art is the language of Magic).
I could start the story of HOW I MET MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY AND SHE BECAME MY CRITIQUE PARTNER AND MENTOR -- of how I attracted the attention of that Great Writer -- with the point at which I graduated from the University of California at Berkley in the middle of a recession that hit my prospective profession harder than this recession is hitting the financial sector.
The class before mine was snapped up by industry at top salaries. Mine - nada. And I was a mis-fit, just about the only woman in my graduating class in my major because it was a man's field - no women allowed.
There's karma in the timing of my graduation. Because a professor got sick and couldn't give a particular class during a particular semester, my graduation was delayed an entire semester.
After nine months and well over 120 resumes, dozens of interviews, I got a phone call from a person (male) whose company I had not applied to and was offered the job on the phone -- landed it at the first interview. (FIRST!!! (yes, Linnea I read your post about multiple punctuation marks)) It was a job rated BELOW my degree level. I pondered. I took it.
That job gave me the contact that saved my life and put me in the job where I met my husband (the same one I'm still married to). He had just returned to his job after a year away -- my delay of a year put me right where I had to be.
Because I had that husband, I ended up living in the only place where I could make direct contact with an active fan who knew Marion Zimmer Bradley's address. (sans Relationship, I was headed for a TA job in Iowa, but HE changed the destination to New York.)
I had been an MZB fan since SWORD OF ALDONES was first published. WORLD WRECKERS had now just come out a year or so before.
I used the address (on Staten Island) and the intro of the fan-friend's name to write MZB a 12 page, typed, single space, letter detailing everything that was "right" and "wrong" with WORLD WRECKERS and how it should have been written.
She wrote back detailing how all that happened. I wrote back and apologized for excoriating her work and explaining that it's because I love it and read every book until I've about memorized every comma because I'm trying to replicate the effect she creates on me. I told her about HOUSE OF ZEOR in MS being my first attempt to generate the MZB EFFECT.
She wrote back and said to send her the MS and she'd see if she could suggest anything. I did. She said it needed a tweak here and there (details), and if I did that she'd show it to her editor. I did. She did. It was turned down (after a year or so), but the editor told me which editor in Manhattan was in the market for that kind of book. I subsequently submitted it everywhere else but there. Finally, I tried his suggestion and a year later, HOUSE OF ZEOR was bought by Doubleday for library distribution. I started writing that book in, I think 1969 and it made it into print in 1974.
WRITING the book is something I DID. Had I not done it, nothing would have "happened." But every direct, pro-active, planned, sensible, logical thing I did to market the book failed.
Because I graduated during a recession and couldn't get a job in 1965, I sold my first novel in 1973 -- and the events that "caused" that to happen were not LUCK and had nothing to do with my goal. They were not the result of what I did or intended. They were things that "happened to me" which at the time I considered real BAD. (not getting a job meant having to live in my parents' house - rrrealll bad.)
THUS I can "see" in my epistemology how it is that LOVE CONQUERS ALL. Because I fell in love, I sold my first novel. And nobody but me can see the because-line behind that. Nobody can do the deeds I did and get that same result. (no, you can't have my husband. He's MINE!)
Now let's really get mystical. (you can stop reading now - this is the boring part, but it's a secret)
In our culture, a marriage is symbolized by the giving of something of intrinsic value - a diamond ring, gold, platinum. Today, people exchange rings, though it used to be just the woman who would be given the token.
Giving and Receiving -- the pair making a concrete transaction on the material plane which is mirrored Above on the non-material planes -- has a mystical significance. That completed transaction actually changes the Universe, leaves an indelible scratch in the Akashic Record.
Among the varieties of human cultures, there have arisen a number of diverse customs, and many SF novels have been built around Alien cultures that impute odd significances to the exchange of gifts.
A case in point is how in some cultures, if you save someone's life, you are thereafter responsible for them -- hence it isn't a good idea to pull someone out of a flooding river.
The transmission of ownership is felt by all human cultures to require ceremony and to have lasting significance.
BUYING (giving something of value in exchange for something of value) is not at all the same thing as GIFTING.
But note that in our society, the distinction has become blurred. Man and Wife exchange rings, instead of the Gifting going only one way to make the magical connection valid. We have a "List" to buy holiday gifts for -- and Heaven Forfend that you GET a gift from someone you didn't GIVE one to -- and what a gaffe if the values don't match!
In some cultures. brides were owned. Or grooms. There was a Bride Price. Men would buy a bride, and hence own their wives and her children. We want to destroy that symbolism, and so reciprocate items of value so ownership is mutual.
Thus the marriage transaction becomes a purchase, not a gifting. There's a big difference magically speaking.
Giving means nothing without Receiving. The transaction is not complete without both actions.
In order for a Gift to be Received, there must be no reciprocation. Nothing GOES DIRECTLY BACK to the giver. Otherwise, magical receiving hasn't happened. After receiving happens, yes, the receiver can (and should) GIVE something, but not BACK. It has to go ON and around the Circle of Life -- then it comes back three-fold as the saying goes.
Yet we say it is more blessed to give than to receive.
How can that be?
Giving is enabled (in the co-dependent sense of the word) by receiving.
When the transaction is complete, the world has changed significantly. Ownership has been transferred. A connection of some sort, sometimes only mystical, has been established between the two parties.
Marion Zimmer Bradley "gave" me all those books she had written and I had read-to-death before I connected with her on the material plane.
But I had not "received" them until I connected and wrote back to her explaining (by praise and criticism) exactly what had come to me via her writing.
That fan letter (not mentioning House of Zeor or my aspirations, but just explaining what I see in her writing) completed the giving transaction. I did not give a gift back. I did not give her something NEW (i.e. my own writing). I ACCEPTED HER GIFT, which I PASS ON with everything I write. Not "back" but "on."
My acceptance made a VESSEL that was finally able to hold the Blessing I was asking for - selling the Sime~Gen Universe novels.
A GIFT that is not being ACCEPTED (i.e. RECEIVED) is not a GIFT.
Charity is a form of gift-giving - though not all gifts are charity.
But there is a magical principle behind all this - writers of fantasy universes where magic is real need to understand this principle to replicate it in a made-up universe. When properly replicated, this single principle behind giving and receiving can make any crazy nonsense seem real enough for a reader to "get into" the story.
We are Commanded (a Mitzvah) to GIVE CHARITY.
That means that those who RECEIVE CHARITY are doing a Commandment, a Mitzvah.
You can give forever and not achieve the mitzvah of giving. Someone, somehow, has to RECEIVE to complete the transaction.
The mystical concept is that Blessings are raining down on us all the time, omnidirectionally, like a monsoon deluge. The Creator of the Universe is Giving - always, constantly, incessantly, and asks of us only that we Receive.
But the monsoon hits and runs off and disappears into material reality without a visible trace unless we MAKE A VESSEL to catch it -- do something concrete in the material world that can "hold" that blessing. Nothing happens until we, ourselves RECEIVE but to do that we must make a Vessel.
And Receiving is much, much harder than Giving.
Just think of a panel discussion at a convention, or a town Council meeting, or any committee meeting you've been at. Everyone wants to GIVE their opinion, point of view, or ideas. The Chair asks for questions and gets polemics instead. There is a feverish desperation in the American population to express their opinions. It's EASY to grab the floor and regale the captive audience with your opinions. How many of them fall asleep? How many can follow your arguments? How many of those who started to read this blog entry are still reading?
LISTENING and HEARING are way harder than yammering out your own opinion. Giving is so much easier than receiving.
When was the last time you made the effort to Receive?
Writing the actual manuscript comes from the place inside you that needs to GIVE. You have something to say, and you pour it out. But then you prepare the manuscript for market by rewriting and crafting it to market specs, and that's another process that is hard work. Do re-read all my Tarot posts to this blog because I explain this principle as best I can in those posts.
The entire process of crafting an object you can offer for sale (well, the rights to which you offer to license) is creating a Vessel. The actions of marketing it also "create a vessel" -- but so does everything else you do in life.
Creating Vessels requires Action in the real, material world.
Now at the time I graduated and sold my first story and then my first novel, I had no idea about any of this mystical stuff. It was MZB and another Star Trek friend of mine who introduced me to Astrology and Tarot and that led to other things. (I had already been into Kabbalah since college, but didn't understand it.)
You don't need to know what you're doing to do it. In fact, it probably helps to be ignorant, unlike in the scientific view of the universe where the more you know the more likely you are to succeed.
But look closely at the outline of my story above. I DO one thing -- over here -- and something I want comes to me -- not back along my line of action, but from OVER THERE -- from another direction.
The cause-effect scientific model of the universe simply can't handle that, can't parse it. And in fact, readers reading novels can't parse it either because of the way our schools teach about the universe. Readers need to have it explained up to the point where they can see the "poetic justice" but not beyond that point (not to belabor it).
In the magical view of the universe, the universe responds to WHO YOU ARE, not to WHAT YOU DO.
Or, put into the model of Giving and Receiving -- when what you Give over here is Received over here -- you have made a Vessel that can hold what is pouring onto you from over there. Your challenge is to be ready with a Vessel strong enough to hold that blessing raining down on you.
When the Give/Receive paradigm is completed, the completion creates a Vessel which can then fill up with the largess raining down upon you. Truly, your cup runneth over, always. Just sometimes your cup has a hole in it or just isn't big enough to hold what you want.
Your "cup" is the Deeds you have done, especially the Commandments. If almost all your Deeds are Gifts, or giving, then try Receiving half the time. Listen inside yourself for the anxious little voice that gets antsy when you Receive and impels you to try to get even by Giving something.
For example, we're all taught to say "Thank You" when we receive a compliment. But if, inside you feel you don't deserve it (or deserve even more) then you didn't Receive.
EXERCISE: Read Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel of the Circus during World War II, CATCH TRAP. Understand the Flying Santellis and what makes their act so special.
If someone comes along and tells you what's wrong with you, your inner impulse is to defend yourself -- it's not so, or there's a mitigating circumstance - etc. You squirm.
When you've practiced the easy stuff, try practising Receiving ill-meant criticism.
Receiving is really, really hard! I can't say that often enough. I been there. Done that. Have the T-shirt. It is really REALLY hard.
But practice and you may find you suddenly have something you really wanted.
Now what about the "giving" of Love? It's not a material object, yet it is a component of our Identity, a component which can be given.
"Unrequited Love" is defined as love that isn't "returned" -- that is, the loved person doesn't also love the lover.
But is that actually the source of pain in unrequited love?
Perhaps the real anguish in unrequited love is that the LOVE that is given is not received?
A person who has received Love is forever changed by the event.
This is clear from examining all the psychological documentation on those who have never received Love. Even if they were in fact loved, they didn't manage to Receive it.
And then there are those humans who are being offered Love and who reflexively refuse it, fend it off, duck, run, laugh it off.
For a really deep examination of this personality trait and its possible resolution in RECEIVING, see the incredibly complex fantasy universe background by Jessica Andersen, showcased in her FINAL PROPHECY series, NIGHTKEEPERS and soon forthcoming DAWNKEEPERS.
I just finished reading and reviewing DAWNKEEPERS (for my June 2009 column) and have not read NIGHTKEEPERS, so I can say you can easily read the second book without the first.
REVIEW to be posted at: http://www.simegen.com/reviews/rereadablebooks/2009/
DAWNKEEPERS on Amazon at:
In DAWNKEEPERS we get deep into the mind of a man who is refusing the knowledge of his magical powers, and with that also refusing true Love. Jessica Andersen takes us through the harrowing lessons that teach him what he's doing wrong.
Yes, it's fiction -- and really wild, far-out urban fantasy-Romance -- but there's a life-lesson in it. The harder you fend it off, the bigger the hammer that hits you until you learn to Receive. Why not skip the bludgeoning (we're talking Pluto Transit here) and just learn the lesson?
This is prime fodder for the conflict line of Romance Novels of all sub-genres, not just urban fantasy-Romance.
A giver must pair up with a recipient or the gift can't be transferred and so it isn't yet a gift.
It sounds obvious, but it's a principle like the Laws of Thermodynamics, which can be applied to the mystical world as well as the physical.
Now consider a human woman (who lives in a reality where givers need recipients) and an alien (non-human) male who does not live in such a mystically based universe.
How could a human woman explain the "blessing" -- the mystical dimension -- of giving or receiving to such a male?
If, for him, there existed no mystical dimension, how would he view her antics? How could he learn what a gift meant? How would he learn that she was validating him by receiving him?
Suppose the fate of two planets depended on it. How could she open him to this mystical dimension? And if she found a way to do that -- should she? What "unforeseen consequences" might be generated by forcibly changing the way he sees the world?
The curious should also see my March 2009 Review Column when it's posted in March where I discuss the Karma of World Prominence via Noel Tyl's astrological discovery of the signature of prominence in a natal chart.
Study the natal chart of George Lucas, (see his biography published years ago). Notice how the plot of Star Wars is mirrored in his Natal Chart but not his Life? Note Noel Tyl's comments on World Prominence coming with the "fulfillment" of the promise in the Natal Chart. Look at your Natal Chart and find what promise you have fulfilled and what you are really "about."
And remember, in the scientific view of the universe, if you do "the right thing" you will succeed. But in the magical view of the universe, if you "are who you really are" you will be fulfilled. Which is the "right" view? Which is your view? How do you apply that philosophy to the practical necessity of life?
Now, I bet nobody read this far. This post is just way too long and too abstract for a blog. And it's barely a tenth of what I have to say on Giving and Receiving!