Paper Tiger

Those of us who post regularly (critics might say interminably) in online blogs run the risk of self-parody, becoming mere “cardboard cut-outs” of our formerly ferocious literary personae. Conventional wisdom asserts that a blogger must publish frequently to maintain an interested and engaged following, but this can sometimes mean unintentionally plowing (or, if you’re British, “ploughing,” but I think I’ll pretend I’m Edward FitzGerald and rhyme it with “enow”) the same old ground repeatedly. There are only so many sacred cows to deflate in any field of endeavor, and I think I’ve hit many of them over 18 months and 700+ posts, mostly on the subject of tarot. Not that it’s my goal to be a total curmudgeon (or that other unflattering word beginning with “a”), but I don’t have a lot of patience for newly-minted experts who are convinced they’ve found the key to universal wisdom in the stars or a pack of cards and are eager to inform the rest of us. As satirist Terry Pratchett put it so well in The Monster Regiment, “The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to those who think they’ve found it.” Although it might be assumed from my occasional prickly tone, I’m not really offended by such breathtaking chutzpah, not even when brandished by those who are just scuffling to make a buck out of something they find intriguing. We all must walk our own road, so excuse me while I shut up and keep on humbly “pluffing” away. (OK, I know “plough” is pronounced the same way as “plow,” but humor/humour me here. And if you’re curious why I chose this title, look here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_tiger)

But I didn’t really intend to take my rambling comments in that particular direction. I want to talk about the publishing channels that are available for those thinkers and writers who may actually have something valuable to say.  Obviously, the online blog is the most accessible and least costly for the average “armchair philosopher,” which is most certainly reflected in the wildly uneven quality of  the ever-expanding content. Self-publishing via one of the services (and I can’t believe how many there are now; check this out: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/self-publishing-service-reviews/), is attractive but demands an up-front investment by the aspiring author (hence the allure of crowd-funding initiatives). For most of us, traditional publishing houses are a dead-end since there isn’t much profit to be had from niche-market offerings; I’ve made some tentative overtures and received only silence in return.

That leaves periodicals, both e-zines and print versions. The field of astrology has a long and storied history of popular, widely-circulated publications going back to Dell Horoscope and Astrology Magazine in the 1960s, with The Mountain Astrologer as the current reigning champion (at least in English), as well as a number of scholarly world-wide journals produced by the International Society for Astrological Research and the National Council for Geocosmic Research. The world of cartomancy has struggled to keep up with this outpouring of professional and technical information, with few well-established outlets available to the freelance writer, and even fewer that offer monetary compensation to their contributors. There is Tarosophist International spearheaded by Tali Goodwin and Marcus Katz (which will pay a fee for any article accepted), the American Tarot Association’s monthly newsletter, Reflections, and quarterly journal (which don’t pay), and the revitalized Cartomancer quarterly journal (which compensates with a free copy of the glossy magazine and complimentary ad space). I’ve been fortunate (and privileged) to be represented regularly in the ATA’s publications over the last couple of years, and occasionally in The Cartomancer.

There may be a handful of other virtual cartomancy journals out there (not blogs, there are plenty of those) that rise above the home-grown labor of love, but they haven’t shown up on my radar screen yet. I’ve been mulling over how I might turn my blog content into something I can make some money from (James Ricklef did it with his ATA material), but I haven’t pulled the trigger on that yet. Before I move on, I want to give a shout-out to ATA editor Terri Clement, ably assisted by Lalia Wilson, for the former and Cartomancer owner-editor Arwen Lynch for the latter. However, given my relentless pursuit of the exalted title of “Minor Master of the Three-Paragraph Essay,” much of my output doesn’t meet the minimum word-count requirement for either. So here I am, a toothless old origami carnivore that keeps right on gumming away.

 

 

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