Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Under Appreciated

I clicked on a link a couple days ago that led to another southern writer’s blog. She’s an interesting woman. The blog post that appeared under the link was one bemoaning a lack of respect for writers. The blogger has been writing for thirty years, and met someone socially the other day who apparently had just begun writing and enthused how “relaxing” it was, and how much “fun” she was having with it. “We must get together to talk about it,” the fledgling writer had said, and it set the professional’s teeth on edge. How dare the younger woman assume they were at the same level? That’s like the volunteer campaign worker inviting the President for a chat. They clearly had nothing to share.

The blogger went on to complain that everyone thinks they can write.  

The reality is different.

Non-writers (an extinct species, no doubt) and newbies seldom start out knowing what a brutal business writing can be. They have never (or at least, not yet) been faced with the endless rejection by editors and agents, nor the disheartening dismissal by relatives who keep asking when they’re going to get a job, even after their novel has been published. They are unaware of the quiet hours of solitude needed to produce the finished product. Most people are afraid of being alone, and need constant conversation and social reinforcement to sustain themselves. They are unaware that the professional writer does not just whip a poem off the top of his head and go on to the next. Never mind the spelling, grammar, syntax, punctuation and voice; non-writers do not know of the weeks and months the writer spends in contemplation in order to gain that one little nugget of insight that will stay with the reader forever. They have no idea that the poem “dashed off” beside the weekly grocery list has to be shopped, edited, and marketed by the writer himself.

Maybe the professional writer / blogger was a little harsh in her criticism, but she’s right, and after a certain amount of time spent in this business, 

having your achievements disregarded by those who have yet to attain them, and derided by those who have never tried, is maddening.

Double the feelings of frustration if you’re a technical writer on a subject that everyone wants to experience, but hardly anyone wants to pay for: astrology. Too many people who have picked up an astrology “cookbook” (Everything You Need to Know About…The Only Thing You Need to Know About…Astrology for Dummies) and read it, thinks they are then qualified to be an astrologer. Too many who buy computer software that calculates charts and drops down a box containing three sentences about a planet, sign, house, or aspect think they are able to predict the future. 

Surprise, kids. Astrology isn’t about predicting the future.

Astrology is about understanding yourself deeply. It’s about finding your purpose in life, about negotiating the journey you’re on, and about honoring the Source of All Things. It’s about knowing where your soul has been and where it intends to go. In order to truly understand astrology, you must study not only the planets, signs, houses and aspects—that’s the barest bones, the mere equivalent of learning the alphabet to understand literature—you must also study astronomy, science, math, psychology, philosophy, religion, mythology, and metaphysics. The learning never ends. It is a life-long task.

In addition to having a strong grasp of those subjects, the astrologer must also understand how to cast a chart by hand—without computer software—so that she understands the scientific basis of how it affects the individual, and what the heavenly bodies will do next. Can you compute logarithms? Convert star time to local time?  Understand the precession of the equinoxes?  Go ahead and look that one up on Wikipedia if you don’t.

And the astrologer is just getting started. There are several branches of astrology she will have to learn in order to be prepared for the client who could want to know anything. Besides the natal chart, which encompasses all the components listed above, there’s also mundane astrology, which shows what will happen to the world, individual countries, and all people, en masse. Elective astrology for when the bride wants to know when to wed to ensure a long and happy marriage, or the businessman wants to know when to cut the ribbon to ensure a successful enterprise. There’s horary astrology for finding lost objects, missing people, and answering all when, where, why, who, and how questions. There’s psychological astrology and spiritual astrology and past lives astrology. The list goes on and on.

We’re still only getting started. The astrologer must cast and read the charts that predict the future of her client: the transits, progressions, directions, returns, lunations, eclipses, and harmonics. Hours are spent casting and studying these charts before the client even walks in the door.

So after twenty-five years, when friends and relatives still ask me, “When are you going to read my chart?” and often the charts of their spouses, children, and significant others, as if all I had to do was glance at some glyphs printed on a piece of paper, it makes me want to bang my head against the desk. Or when I have a potential new client who makes an appointment and then doesn't show for it after I've done all that work on her chart makes me cross my eyes.  When someone balks and complains that astrologers charge $100 (or more) an hour, I cringe. Once, one time, I was very, very lucky in my life, and a professional took pity on me and did a boat load of work on my behalf without charging me. I did not ask him to, but I am eternally grateful.

Doctors and lawyers and accountants and veterinarians do not work for free, and you would not dream of asking them to. 

Astrology may often be about the spiritual world, but we still live in the material world, and we have to provide food on our tables and gas in our cars, too.

1 comment:

  1. As the Joker said in that Batman film, "If you're good at something, never do it for free".

    The ghost investigations generate no income because any money-making from that would let the sceptics shout 'Fraud!'. I have other ways of making money.

    One of them is now writing but you'd be amazed how many expect me to have a supply of free books! Sure, they'd be happy to read the books but pay for them? No, they'll be doing me a favour just by reading. I wouldn't mind so much if they at least posted a review on Amazon. Many thanks for yours, if I haven't said it before.

    It's as if you're doing a taxi driver a favour by riding in his cab, and then get upset when he expects to be paid for the trip.


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