Authoring can be a very lonely business. For me, it’s the part of the experience I have most trouble with. I prefer to work with people around – if I can get the right people who are companionable without being too demanding. Being married to an artist works well for me in this regard. I’m also very dependent on wider creative networks and contact with other creative people. It helps me keep my frustrations and victories in perspective, and means there are people around who know perfectly well how it goes. How hard it is to make any kind of living from your work being the major issue there. People who don’t do it tend to assume that writing, art etc are easy ways to make a lot of cash. Often they are hard ways to barely break even.
To be any kind of viable, a person has to get out there and actively sell their work. This is a nightmare for me. For one, by the time a book comes out, I’m working on something else, I’ve half forgotten or come to dislike the older one. I feel uncomfortable drawing attention to what I’ve done – I was raised to understand that being attention seeking was a major social failing, so leaping about going ‘I made this book and it’s great and you should all buy it’ does not come easily, if at all.
In a creative family, this is much less of an issue. I can happily tell you about artists I love, books I enjoyed, films I was blown away by, and so forth. That’s not just easy, that’s a joy. Over at Moon Books, it’s brought some really interesting things into my life. Moon Books publishes a lot of Pagan titles (mine included). Having got to know many of the authors, I can say many of them are just not the people to go blowing their own trumpets. A couple are more cheerfully out there, but as is often the case with authors, there are a lot of shy introverts for whom it is a world of pain to have to try and draw attention to their own work. So let me take a moment and point you that way. There’s lots of good stuff.
Over recent years, we’ve formed a collective habit of reading each other’s work. This is great in so many ways. It means less isolation. Engaging with other people’s ideas and world views stops a person from disappearing up their own bottom in a puff of self importance (always a risk for authors). The sharing of knowledge is good. Seeing what others are working on, and how they handle issues, is good. Spiritual experience is a tough thing to write about – so personal and ephemeral in nature – swapping notes about how to express it helps us build a viable common language.
Thanks to Moon Books, I’ve read a great deal that isn’t Druidry in the last few years. I’ve read perspectives that make no emotional sense to me. I’ve read about paths I wouldn’t follow and I’ve seen teaching approaches I wouldn’t use. I’ve also seen a lot that has influenced me and given me things to explore and play with. I am a fuller, richer, more open minded person as a consequence. I have learned that I do not need to agree with a person’s worldview to respect it and to be enriched by encountering it. I’ve become very relaxed about reading things that are not my path at all, and have found that a book can do a lot for me without being at all about what I do or who I am. It’s so easy to go into other people’s books seeking mirrors of ourselves, and I’ve certainly done that in the past. This way is more interesting.
Reading is a much more rewarding experience when you don’t need to like or agree in order to find value. There are, I have learned, no books that were written just to help me on my path. No books that are perfectly and wholly what I need. No book will tell me how to make my journey. That helps me appreciate that no book I write will be fully those things for anyone else, either.