THE SECRET: is that it’s not a secret and never has been

“Your thoughts shape your reality. Your intentions and feelings change your environment.”

SO WHY AM I NOT IN CARMEL WITH PUBLISHED BOOKS AND A TV SHOW?!?!? And wearing a size 8 in Chanel, to boot.

Cognitive psychologists and Phildickian mystics have been telling us this very thing for years, and books ranging from _The Power of Positive Thinking_, _The Prosperity Gospel_, and _Active Visualization_ have promoted it (albeit in a more abstract way.) Also, the laws of similarity, attraction, et alia have been part of ritual magick forever, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The current book/DVD set seems to imply that if you see a necklace in a store and you visualize having it, you’ll get it. There is no need to make a plan and work towards it–or at least this is not shown in the promos; you’ll just Attract it to you. Same for the little kid and the dreamed-of mountain bike. These examples are awfully materialistic, whereas the classical conception of “believe and receive” (as Christ teaches it) has been far more on the side of “believe that you will be healed,” and “believe that God will provide and guide you,” and so forth. You can ask ANYTHING of God, but sometimes He will say no or “wait” or “that isn’t right for you.” The “I want to win the lottery” prayers seem to fall on the ears of jaded angels who know that the lottery is simply not in someone’s future, and then God is blamed for not being Santa Claus, and religion is roundly rejected. But is this really the right way to look at things in the first place?

Of course the _Power of Positive Thinking_ (the Norman Vincent Peale book) was correct in saying that you do get back what you send out, most of the time, depending on circumstances. It’s also correct to say that a person with a positive attitude and sending out a friendly vibe will have more success than an angry one approaching everything with a “this is going to fail” vibe (“flies to honey” theorem). And of course it makes life a lot more pleasant for those around you.

But the current craze that Oprah is said to have pimped twice goes past these ideas. (*And it outright steals without acknowledgement from Neopaganism/Paganism/traditional occult/ritual magick thought, too, but we’ll get to that in a minute. I promise.*) It’s a harmful book because it tells people they don’t have to take responsibility–that they can make their own luck just by THINKING. If the luck doesn’t come, well, they just didn’t WISH hard enough, or believe hard enough. Applaud and Tinkerbell’s light will come back on! Well, when we grow up, kids, we need to do more than just stand around visualizing in order to put a plan into action. Nose-twitching doesn’t work for most of us.

We can change our lives by thinking . . . but not in the way they claim (and, as I said, we’ll get to ritual magick in a moment.) This crazy book says that if you want to lose weight, avoid looking at fat people. (Do not look over here!) She seems to ignore the converse, the idea that perhaps if that is the case, you could look at thin people and become skinny. So if we had billboards and TV shows and magazines showing skinny women, then maybe–oh, wait. . . .

It’s all based on what she calls the “law of attraction”: that thoughts, good or bad, “attract” more of whatever they’re about. This was basically said in the hippie movement, in the “Guru” stuff that the Beatles were into, etc. But the first place I ever read about it was in a book by L. Sprague de Camp. It goes along with laws of similarity and contagion that are routinely used by those practicing ritual magick. (However, if you are not on the path to being a ritual magick user, you can’t just hop in and do a quick “trick” and fool the powers into doing your bidding, so there’s another fly in the “Secret” ointment! The Universe is no fool. Remember, it wasn’t born yesterday.)

Perhaps if you change your thinking, you *will* change yourself, and thereby get what you need/want in a roundabout way. However, this is a long-term prospect. My mother used to say, “Pretend that you are happy, and you’ll soon find that you FEEL happy.” (She said this when we were children, whenever we were crying or throwing a tantrum on the floor.) “If you pretend you are satisfied and you imagine that you’ve just eaten candy, you will soon stop having that craving for third helpings.” This proved to be a very workable strategy, at least most of the time. If you change your thinking to “I am a winner, and this was a temporary setback,” you will have the heart to keep going, unlike me, where the thinking is, “What’s the use? Why don’t I listen to the message and GIVE UP this writing sh**? And where did I leave that hemlock again?” However, I would not recommend standing around and wishing for something without working for it. It doesn’t happen too often.

Ritual magicians/magickers, as I said earlier, DO sometimes manifest things through these laws, or so some of us have observed, but they use ALL of the laws and they are following a path, not just dabbling in this or that without making any kind of commitment. There is a price for everything. I warn of the dangers of dabbling in things you know little about in my fiction (Miranda, Daphne, and Camille all fall prey to this temptation to dabble when they know better.) DISCLAIMER: I am no expert. This is what I believe to be the case because people who ARE on such a path have told me this, or I’ve run across it while researching Santeria, hoodoo, and various other crafts for my fiction. All I am trying to say is that you can’t just cherry-pick this and that from various traditions and stitch together some kind of pop self-help thing and then expect it to work magic. I would bet against that every time. You can’t just pretend to be a Republican/Democrat/fan of Ayn Rand in order to get people to do what you want and then turn around and do what you meant to do all along without getting into hot water eventually. (Maybe not the first time, but you WILL get caught. Because another Rule of the Universe is, “What goes around, comes around.” Yowtch!)

So anyhow, what this author apparently did was cast around for something she thought could become big and “get some of that Oprah money,” as the senator from Illinois (not Abe, but Obama) recently said.

“If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it.” I should be a size 8 at least by now, but I feel guilty about averting my eyes every time some perfectly normal and nice person walks past. It makes them feel as though there must be something wrong with them (or with me–or both), which is a NEGATIVE action to put out into the world, and which should counteract the result that you are trying for. Because that is putting out NEGATIVE vibes, isn’t it?

So her advice already doesn’t stand up to logical analysis. *But why did we think it would?*

*sigh* Why must the media/the “public” (whoever THEY are) always have something to glom on to and pin all their enthusiasm to? “The Next Big Thing” now is apparently the Oprah pick called _The Secret_. Of course, nothing in it is a secret. It’s a marketing triumph, though. But is making money the MOST important thing? Justifying any means you might use?
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I got some amusement today through sending e-queries to agents. Actually, I sent an e-query to an agent who had been on “Absolute Write” and had seemed very eager for submissions. I did that on Friday morning. This morning I got the standard “this is not for us, sorry” e-mail. So I figured, okay, try the other fantasy novel. I already had e-queries typed in from having done Agent X workshops and Evil Editor and so forth, so I put one together and sent it at 10 AM. By 1:30 PM I had the same standard rejection. I still had one more fantasy novel, so I tried again, figuring, “Why wait?” Sure enough, I got the rejection by 3 PM. I think we were just playing volleyball.

I also got a rejection back from an e-query I sent early last week.

But it turns out that I misunderstood what the contest judge said in the case of the Paige novel. The editor in that contest actually DID get to read the first ten pages of my Paige novel, and she ranked the novels she got in that category. Mine came in second out of six. I got a copy of the letter she sent to the contest coordinator, and it reads, “Here is my ranking. [List] Please let Joanne Blowanne know that I would like to see the full manuscript of STUPID THING THAT GOT FIRST PLACE.” Okay, so she doesn’t SAY the others are good or bad. But now that I have the letterhead and so forth, what about this–I could write a query asking if she would agree to look at the book she ranked second. Just in case the rest of that other one doesn’t work out.

I might, as Dennis suggested, wait a couple of weeks so she doesn’t feel as if the Mystery Date she slammed the door on is knocking again right away. However, often writers have a git-go opening that they shop to contests constantly and which they have all polished up, but the reason it is so intriguing is that they ain’t written nothin’ else and don’t have to worry about fulfilling all those promises in the setup! But anyway, I wouldn’t say any of that, just ask if she’d look at it with the knowledge that she did rank it second, even if it’s rank.

I’ll think about it. I believe the needle on the “how much rejection can I take in one day” is fairly well pegged at the moment.
$ $ $
Direct quotation from online discussion that had turned ugly (I wasn’t IN it, just watching in disbelief as it unfolded): “Please don’t use the word “whore,” as it offends me and the people I know who are sex workers by profession. Call us ‘professional sex industry workers.'”

“Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If you understand something one way, you do not understand it at all.”–Marvin Minsky


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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