I’m a talented writer, but am rarely published. Am never solicited. My book has been rejected by nearly every publisher I know of. When I do publish, no more than 10-15 people read my work. With each rejection, my art brings me less joy. Legit question: Why continue writing?
Now, let me just say this guy isn't a self-published hack (I checked his Twitter bio, snob that I am). In fact, he's a NYC Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction--and his work has been featured in Hobart Pulp, Barrelhouse, Joyland Magazine and Split Lip Magazine.
I tweeted back to him:
I have struggled with this, too. After much contemplation, I decided to retire from writing Tarot books (I've 3 under my belt, each innovative--but not good sellers). I've turned my creativity to jewelry making and aromatherapy these days. Life is too short to be miserable.
He then replied "Life is too short to be miserable--indeed! Thank you for sharing!"
It's true. Now, if writing gave you supreme pleasure--money and/or audience be damned--I'd say keep going. But when writing starts to become a drain, you have to ask "Is it really worth it?" Talent doesn't demand our slavery.
Just because we're good at something--even really good--it doesn't mean we have to do it. We don't owe anyone anything in this life. In fact, we don't even have to do it if it helps people.
After my neighbor (who just happens to be my former 11th grade English teacher!) dropped off homemade strawberry jam yesterday morning--"just to spread joy", she said--I realized just how needed joy spreading is during these challenging times. ❤
So I started a new Facebook page and will be giving away the occasional piece for the same reason: to spread joy. If you'd take a sec to "like", I'd be most grateful: Janet Boyer Designs.
Below is what I'm giving away on my new page (just finished it a little while ago):
Quick: What's the difference between a maze and a labyrinth? ::plays Jeopardy! theme song::
For one, mazes have dead ends--but labyrinths have one way in and one way out.
The former is frustrating, the latter is meditative.
When I was in High School (over 30 years ago... *wince*), inspiring English teachers influenced the hell out of me. Already a voracious reader (I'd go to the library with a tote and come out with 5-7 thick books--and have them read in a week), the world of symbolism, theme, etymology, poetry forms and literary analysis captured my imagination.
I also had a kick-ass art teacher in 9th grade who made sure we knew the names and artists of 100 famous pieces for our final exam--as well as how to do linoleum carving from our original drawings, throw (and bake) pottery, shading, perspective and more.
Although I wanted to "be" a few things "when I grew up" (and accomplished a few)--FBI profiler, lawyer, minister, writer, teacher--the excitement and wonder of "art" stayed with me for decades.
Until I actually became a published author.
And eventually lost the idealism and joy of what it means to behold--and even make--art.
One thing that's drummed into your head when you're on the path to publication is that it's not art--it's a "business". And you must "act" like it by becoming business-minded--hustling, figuring out ways to market without sounding like a carnival barker, working your ass off towards the next "offering", letting people know of your books without being spammy, making "authentic" connections for networking (but really, the aim is how the other person or group can further your visibility or career)--ad nauseum.
Produce, produce, produce.
Hamster on a wheel. Girl on a treadmill. Working, sacrificing, and working some more.
Years ago, I read a blog post from a smart, talented gal who said that an online "biz school" basically "ruined" her.
I believe she was talking about just this thing: when having to "sell" your work and self drains the joy of creation. When what was once fascinating and fun becomes...a chore.
Long gone are the days of "art for art's sake". In fact, a few months ago, an astrology blogger asserted in her newsletter that "no one makes art for art's sake; for it to matter, it has to have a purpose."
I took umbrage. "Do you really believe that?" I asked her.
She never answered me.
In 2018, my last book Naked Tarot was published. It clocked in at 110K words. By the time it hit the shelves, I had lost most of my desire to write.
I saw words as more as a tool for haters to hate, liars to propagate and hucksters to manipulate.
Gone was the anticipation--the rapture!--of distilling complex ideas so that people could not only understand them, but actually apply them to their lives in the pursuit of self-knowledge, authentic living and personal meaning.
To make a difference in the world. To slay mediocrity.
Words became weapons on social media--and, frankly, I was so tired of the slings and arrows.
Of having to be PC and walk on eggshells lest someone lead a mob to destroy your reputation and career. Of carefully crafting your words so that you can subtly let people know of your books and decks for sale--but not come across as a hawker.
Of having to think 100 steps ahead to the next blog post, the next social media post, the next book, the next side hustle to (maybe? finally?) make some coin.
Fast forward to now. In the midst of a global pandemic. For the last year, my passion and joy has been...jewelry making. Yeah, I do the aromatherapy thing--scents are great--but I really, really love playing with beads, baubles, wire, stones and crystals.
It doesn't make me hardly any money (but then again, neither did writing books). And I've been chasing my tail asking "What's the point?" Srsly, what good is it to have (literally) a suitcase full of unsold jewelry? Isn't jewelry made to be worn? Isn't it functional? Mostly...practical?
But wise Mr. Ron--my beloved hubby (who's an artist)--said:
"Who cares if you don't sell your jewelry? They're beautiful! Hang them on the walls around the house. Wear them. Get them out to look at them!"
Needless to say, I've had a hard time coming around to his oh-so-impractical viewpoint.
But you know what? I'm there.
Now, more than ever, I realize the importance of personal meaning. Of doing things that feed MY soul. Of living life as a quest--for not only knowledge (which never left me), but also for BEAUTY. Beholding it...and creating it.
A journey within, and back out, in the quest for beauty.
Back to my center. Back to those perennial ideals that many sage philosophers offered as damn good reasons for living--and thriving--which fueled, and comforted me, in the past.
No more mazes. I'm so outta there.
I'll leave you with a video that I watched last night. It has helped me dust myself off and re-mount the horse of personal, meaningful idealism--a reason to live outside of my wonderful family (which is awesome, but still "outside" myself)--and back on the road in the Quest for Knowledge and Beauty.
Those with strong Hermit archetypes have already been self-isolating. In fact, self-quarantine is a natural state of being. The Hermit goes it alone, seeking knowledge--and trusting that his next step is lit by destiny. This energy is comfortable by itself, not needing the company of others to entertain, distract or solace.
And yet, an actualized Hermit can also embrace others into his/her sphere, experiencing exquisite intimacy and demonstrating extraordinary compassion. (Usually, this is limited to smaller groups, because the energy output is just too much for the Hermit archetype--even among extroverted ones!).
Temperance is a middle path, a synthesis. This Tarot card can indicate blending and practical alchemy, which would cover alternative healing remedies--especially ones that are taken internally (think tinctures, essential oil blends, poultices and tisanes)-- as well as more traditional apothecary.
In the Snowland Deck companion, the "secret" I came up with was Solitude prepares for vicissitude (because The Wheel of Fortune is often the next card in a traditional Tarot deck). In many ways, those with a strong, balanced Hermit archetype have an advantage, because they usually operate from their center by default. Just like on a merry-go-round, the center is less wobbly--and less dangerous. (Think of hanging on the edge of a merry-go-round as it spins quickly. Ack!)
Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with Hermit energy may feel off kilter during these times of COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus). Just a few minutes ago, the governor of my state announced that all schools will be shut down for at least 2 weeks. Disneyland and Walt Disney World are closed. Live talk shows are performing with empty in-person audiences. Some places are ghost towns.
Many have chosen social distancing. Some are doing it because they are infected; others, because they fear infection. To some extent, though, this isolation is forced (whether by lower-chakra fears or by Temperance's practicality).
But the ailments they highlight stem from those who don't feel connected to others. Feeling connecting to others isn't dependent upon having them in physical proximity, however. In fact, many feel lonely among a sea of people.
I can't help but wonder if The Hermit would say:
You are not connected to your Self. Your center. Your ground of Being. When you're alone, you're aware of this because of the physical separation from an Other--which only mirrors the internal disconnection of the One.
As Terence McKenna points out in the video below: You are the center of the mandala.
With the omnipresence of social media, individuals parade about their dozens (or hundreds) of Tarot decks and spirituality books—often surrounded by glitzy crystals, fragile flower petals, fresh herbs, glowing candles and smoking palo santo sticks. Pretty to look at, sure—and certainly an enticement to buy more, more, more (after all, gotta keep up with the Body/Mind/Spirit Joneses, right?)—but do such public antics encourage going deeper? Acquiring, retaining and, more importantly, applying empowering knowledge? Only the Instagram posters can tell for sure. However, the biggest leaps of personal growth occur alone—without anyone watching, encouraging or commenting—or so says The Hermit.
Obviously, this passage goes one step further by implying "social media distancing", which brings a whole 'nother layer to The Hermit...
Stay safe everyone. And remember: at core, you're never truly alone. We're all connected.
In the mid-1300s, the Bubonic Plague--aka "The Black Death"--was the most deadly disease outbreak in human history, decimating 1/3 of the European population.
The sick, dying and dead lined the streets. The poor and rich alike were infected--including doctors and nurses. Although the contagion struck fear in the hearts of European citizens, a few intrepid opportunists decided to steal from victims of the Black Death.
Four thieves were captured for stealing from Plague victims and were sentenced to be burned at the stake. However, the judge was so intrigued as to how these thieves stayed immune to the plague, despite close contact with Black Death victims.
The thieves told the judge that if he spared them from death, they would tell them their secret to staying free of the deadly disease. The judge agreed, and the four thieves proceeded to tell the judge that they were spice and perfume merchants that were out of work because of the Plague. They had prepared a special herbal concoction that they applied to their hands, ears, temples, feet and the mask that the were over their mouths--a blend made up of Lemon, Rosemary, Clove, Eucalyptus and Cinnamon--that kept the deadly disease at bay (we now know that the Bubonic Plague was caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria that was transmitted from fleas to humans).
Studies have shown that these five essential oils do, indeed, have anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal qualities--and many herbalists and alternative health practitioners use them as such as part of their healing work.
I now have Blend of Thieves Oil available in my Aroma Power Etsy Shop here.
No longer the domain of germophobes--especially with the descent of COVID-19, aka coronavirus--hand sanitizers are now a part of best practices when it comes to protecting yourself against viruses, bacteria and germs (along with frequent hand washing).
With many stores running out of hand sanitizer, DIYers are turning to natural products to make their own. However, it's important to follow CDC guidelines when doing so--especially with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
As of March 2020, the CDC has recommended that hand sanitizers be at LEAST 60-90% alcohol. Ethanol, the most common alcohol ingredient, appears to be the most effective against viruses--which is why I chose to use Everclear 151 (75.5% ethanol) in my hand sanitizers.
Despite reported anti-microbial properties, it is NOT advisable to rely on Essential Oils ALONE to kill bacteria and viruses (hence, the ethanol, aka "grain alcohol", that is added to my GERMOPHOBE hand sanitizers, now available at my Aroma Power Etsy Shop).
For boosted anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties--as well as immune support--I offer Essential Oil synergy options...but alcohol is the best sanitizer, according to the CDC.
But not just any alcohol.
Over the counter isopropyl alcohol, according to chemistry expert Anne Marie Helmenstine, should be 99% (hard to find)--while some say 70% is "OK". Personally, I wouldn't trust isopropyl alcohol alone, especially since the CDC acknowledges that ethanol (such as found in grain alcohol like Everclear) is most effective against viruses (like COVID-19, aka coronavirus).
Other added benefits of using Everclear in DIY sanitizers with essential oils is that grain alcohol 151 proof or above also serves as an emulsifier and preservative. Read this informative post on the Plant Therapy blog here.
Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease--and should not be used as a substitute for medical counseling with a health care professional. Individuals with serious illnesses should consult a qualified health care professional.