Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Year Wishes (Tarot Blog Hop)

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Welcome to the Yule 2017 edition of the Tarot Blog Hop. Our wrangler, Ania, asked us to consider what card best represented our past year, and what card best represented our wishes for next year.

Death--sitting on a pile of past decisions and events while looking for a way to move forward. 
2017 was a year of Death for me. Literal death.

Early in the year, the president of the board of Hearthstone Community Church, Alia Denny died. That shook me up. Well, it shook the whole board up--not just me. The most basic of questions, such as "Would Hearthstone continue without Alia?" had already been answered. (Yes, it would--that is why we had a full board for the administration of the church.) Other questions, such as "With Alia gone, does Morgan still get to walk around and act weird?" are still being answered. (Honestly, I used Alia as a safety net--I got to be odd while she held down the respectable community member role--along with the other board members.) I have been considering my role in the local Wiccan/pagan community ever since she has died--"Do I want to take a bigger role in the community? Do I need to? Would the community be better off without me?"

Then my mother-in-law committed suicide, due to health issues, during the summer. Donna was my wife's best friend--her and my wife loved one another very much--shopping together, they went on vacation once together to Yellowstone. My wife and my brother-in-law took her death hard. And I was surprised how much it stirred up my own issues (my ongoing mental illness--depression, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, occasional roller coaster mood swings). I was more deeply affected by these two deaths than the death of my own mother a couple of years ago. As for my wife, some days are better than others--the best I can do is try to be supportive.

It is that "try to be supportive" part that has been the hardest for me. I don't come from a family that taught one to be supportive. Or maybe it was just my place in the family. Basically, my role was to sacrifice everything, including my own desires, for the good of my mother and my siblings. As such, I never feel that I am doing enough for others--and I will sacrifice my own damn good for other people without thinking about it. And it drives my wife insane that I do so. I swear I am trying to help as I run around destroying my own chances for success--and all the while I resent what I think that I am required to do. At some point, I realized that the best I could do to be supportive was to try to act like a normal person--it has not been easy--I have never done so much medical marijuana in my life to keep myself emotionally stable.

Remaining stable has been complicated by the fact that my wife's job hunt was interrupted by her mother's death...which leads to the card that I have chosen for next year.

[Designing the Death card for the Monkey Tarot, I decided to depict the card with a monkey sitting on a pile of skulls wearing a Day of the Dead mask, holding in one hand a bunch of flowers and in the other, a pomegranate. Essentially, we sit on a throne of the bones of our ancestors, making jokes to make sense of the harshness of the universe, watching death be quick and sudden one day, slow and lingering the next, while watching out for those moments that are not the end, but rather a beginning of a new stage of existence.]

Eight of disks--pounding out projects in a systematic approach to build up a body of work.
The card that I think sums up what I hope to happen next year is the Eight of Pentacles. Earlier this year, before all the death and sorrow, I made a plan for my business after much studying of how successful writers were making money as writers.

What I have observed is that successful writers stick to projects until they finish them. Everything else is just a support mechanism for that goal--finishing projects--including selling books to afford to be able to write other books.

I have not been good at finishing projects. The voices in my head, which sound remarkably like my mother's voice, tell me that I need to be successful right out of the gate, and that I am not allowed any resources to accomplish this goal. I have spent a lot of time trying to find that perfect project that will generate a lot of money while costing nothing in resources. So in space of a week, I will have started and abandoned seven projects. This was especially true before I started taking bipolar meds.

Just in case, you do not realize how bad the voices in my head are, consider the following idea: "You are supposed to be making a hundred thousand a year without spending a single dime, or wasting large amounts of time creating product."

Unfortunately, being a writer involves dumping a lot of time and resources into projects that one does not know if they are going to succeed or not. For instance, every successful writer making a living as a writing, if they write series of novels, has at least three books in their series (that's three whole novels!). And they did the three books set routine again and again until they discovered their successful series.

Now, I used to be able to make some money doing short stand-alone stories, but the dubious erotica market has dried up over the last few years as people have screamed, "Children can find erotica when they search for books" and blamed the writers for ebook retailers not having a proper adult filter for their searches. My estimate of how much potential income this has cost me runs thousands of dollars a year. At one point, there were erotica writers making hundreds of thousands per quarter (yes, I said "quarter"). But no, that would make things far too simple. With Barnes and Noble bringing their policies in line with everyone else's, those days were over (please note, I made my plan six months before B&N closed their system to dubious erotica).

Anyways, earlier this year, I broke down and told my wife, in painful detail, what I actually needed to do, if I wanted to start making money as a writer again. One, I had to switch fields; two, literally had to write at least three novels with only a best guess what would get readers to shell out money; three, I had to give up the idea that I could pull this miracle off without burning up resources or sufficient amounts of time; four, never think about returning to minimum wage restaurant work ever again.

And five, I had to continue taking bipolar meds; and for those really bad blind panic days, accept the fact that it was best for everyone concerned that I eat a "magical cookie."

Now, my wife has been amazed at the change in my thought process, thanks to the meds. I am also surprised--it is like I am a different person than I was for the first fifty years of my life.

So when everything went sideways, with death, and more death, and let's call the B&N policy even more death, I have somehow managed to stay on the side of functional. I have also managed to stick to the plan to reinvent myself as a writer. It has been slow going...because I have been placing comforting my wife above hacking out words...but hey, I have managed to keep my eyes on the prize of actually finishing a series (or at least, the first three installments).

The idea for 2018 is to keep on writing and focusing on a single large project (three novels same world!)--to stick to my business plan.

[Designing the Eight of Pentacles for the Monkey Tarot, I decided to use the image of Shakespeare Monkey, combined with a symbol of a factory approach to production. Shakespeare Monkey refers to the idea that if you have an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite amount of time, monkeys randomly typing can produce the exact text of Shakespeare. It is an idea that I encountered as a teenager which periodically crops up in my work. Red typewriter is a symbol of self-promotion--something I need to get better at. Dice are obviously a symbol of randomness--and sometimes success looks exactly like randomness--why do some people succeed and other people fail? And behind the monkey is a logo for the most famous company in the universe--ACME--because building a successful series involves work. Trivia--with the five and three visible on this side of the dice, the opposite side has to be a four and a two...42...yes, I am that nerd.]

The idea of a blog hop is to link to each other's blogs in a giant circle.
Thanks for reading this installment of the Tarot Blog Hop. Feel free to hop backwards to Joanne Sprott's Cosmic Whispers Tarot blog, or forward to Jay Cassel's Metaphysical Musings blog. And if there are any link problems, check out the Master List of all the entries in this edition.

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Joy Vernon said...

I love your 8 of Disks as your wish for next year--I'll take a healthy dose of that too, please!

Tarot By Arwen said...

Shakespeare Monkey is brilliant. And I appreciate that Hearthstone is still going. Losing Alia was hard for me even this far away.

Karen said...

I remember watching a documentary many years ago about evolutionary genetics and it took the idea of Shakespeares monkey... I don't recall the exact details but I do remember that they ran some computer simulation and tweaked it so that instead of purely random input they looked at following a timeline of progress where the random changes got nearer to the goal... They got to the final version is a surprisingly quick time... Not sure if I've explained that well...

Ania said...

Love the Douglas Adams references - he is my hero :). Here’s hoping those monkeys come good for you in 2018!

M Juniper said...

Death (literal and metaphorical) to Eight of Pents. I think if I chose my own card instead of picked randomly...I'd be there with you on the Death choice. A friend, shortly before passing, quoted "Life is nothing but unfinished projects." Sitting on skulls of the past or sitting at typewriters...the two seems to flow into one another. Best to you in your 2018 endeavors!

Joanne Sprott said...

Yes, Morgan, finishing is hard. Finishing is often incredibly difficult even for the non-bipolar, but as you know, your brain is set to constantly sabotage finishing efforts (my life partner struggles with this, also).

Thanks so much for sharing the stuff that pulls you indifferent directions, that fights the finishing.

I agree that the 8 of P, bringing the monkey to get the work done, can be your best approach.

I would love to see the process and the results of your own Shakespearean effort (he had to be quite pentacles persistent to get those plays produced!).

You have great writing talent, Morgan. I am excited to see more. :)

Lore M said...

Finishing projects is so difficult and something I can relate to. I'm so sorry for your losses and hope you are able to find success in 2018.

Raine Shakti said...

Thank you for this very insightful blog post. I enjoyed reading it and a lot of of what you've said is true for me as well so you've given me something to think about.

Deirdre Doran said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entry, so much honesty and authenticity. I hope you bring that same flavor to your fiction writing and we all get to see the finished product someday. One step at a time, we just keep trying, that's all we can do.