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were supposed to at the time; you kept taking the next step you could see.” True, but was that the cause of the publishing effect? Maybe.

There’s a theory that says we do not necessarily, or even usually, receive back what we give directly, but we always receive it back. Sometimes, according to this theory, the energy of the cause must travel through the universe, possibly in a diverse way and possibly for a long period of time before it returns to us as effect.

Because of the time and distance, and because it comes to us directly from a place or person we don’t expect, we tend not to recognize the cause.

Ralph Waldo Emerson speaks to this theory in his essay Compensation. “The retribution in the circumstance is seen by the understanding; it’s inseparable from the thing, but it is often spread over a long time and so does not become distinct until after many years.”

This means to me that whether or not the desired effect is in sight, one should keep up what one perceives as the cause. The energy we put into waiting for something to return directly from the person to whom we gave it—whether money we’ve lent, love from a specific person, or a contract for a book or manuscript submitted to a certain editor—can result in energies such as anger and resentment which are destructive to the creative flow. Additionally, we might not recognize the “effect” when it finally arrives. What we give will return to us from someone, someplace, sometime, though perhaps not in a form we immediately identify. Watch for it from whatever apparent source, expect it, and appreciate it when it shows up.

“The nature and soul of things takes on itself the guaranty of the fulfillment of every contract,” Emerson states in Compensation, “so that honest service cannot come to loss. If you serve an ungrateful master, serve him the more. Put God in your debt. Every stroke shall be repaid. The longer the payment is withholden, the better for you; for compound interest on compound interest is the rate and usage of this exchequer.”

Ten years ago my sister-in-law, Susie, was fighting cancer. When the struggle reached the final stage, I moved in with Susie and my brother, Dale, for the last months of Susie’s life. Caring for her took all my and Dale’s time. Both of us set aside our paying work. As a writer and a part-time accountant, I had no vacation pay, sick pay or personal leave time. We didn’t know how long Susie had left, and though I had no intention of backing out on my commitment to her, I began to wonder how long I’d be able to meet my mortgage and other bills. I went through more savings than anticipated. Then I received a royalty check. When I opened the envelope, I literally experienced a “my knees buckled” moment. The royalty check was by far the largest I’d received, and almost the same amount as the savings I’d used during the time spent with Susie.

That event changed the way I viewed life, finances, and cause and effect. I began to believe that sometimes we are meant to spend our time doing something the world doesn’t see as “earning money”. God or the Universe may see cause and effect differently than we do. Was the cause of the large royalty check the books I’d written, or was it that I’d chosen to assist someone I loved? Perhaps those events cannot be separated, but are together the cause.

After the above experience, energy began to feel circular, or meandering, and continuous rather than back and forth between two specific entities or events. This meandering form of cause and effect seems to me perfectly natural in a created and/or creative universe: cause that never stops, but continuously gives energy to create effect in many lives.

Which brings us back to Jo’s observance—which is cause and which is effect?

Was the cause of my first romance book offer that I pursued publication in the prescribed manner? Was the cause that I did not give up on my writing, even though I began heading in another direction? Was the cause that in the years in between, I started a writers group for Christian writers to help other beginners learn the basics of writing for publication—even before I was published in book form? Was the cause that I gave up trying to control publication of that book? Was there another cause I do not even suspect?

Or, more along the lines of Jo’s question, were the contract offer and the publication of the book a cause, not an effect? If so, what was the effect? Or did the perceived effect become in itself a cause of a future effect?

Can we ever know for certain what is a cause and what is the effect?

Still, we believe certain actions result in certain effects. We’re told we must write a query or a proposal if we are to sell a book, yet how many of us have sold a book on a conversation with an editor? Perhaps in such a case the cause is a history of successful writing on which the editor relied in making the decision.    

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