Congratulations, you received a Sycamore! But wait, that was a couple/many years ago and now, it feels like you can’t get any traction. No one is really seeing the neat art that you’re doing or noticing the esoteric area of the Sciences you are delving. What’s up with that?
“So, whose biscuit do I have to butter in order to get a Fleur?” “The only reason I don’t have a Fleur is because…politics”
“I’ll get a Fleur if I hang around long enough. If I stick it out, there won’t be anyone left to give one to”
“My work is just as good/better than Lady X’s, so why is she getting recognized and I’m not?”
What’s wrong with this picture? In the words of those wiser than I, everything…and nothing but they do reflect a real lack of understanding about just what it takes to move up in a Society where “moving up” depends on other people. So how DO you get recognized by those people and the Crown?
PRODUCTIVITY: Are you actively practicing your Art/Science? Is your level of achievement equal to or surpassing the current accepted level for the Fleur? Are you working with period materials in a period style with period subject matter? Can you provide evidence to prove it?
It is a fact of modern life that yes; the ‘bar’ HAS been raised. Back when I joined the SCA, the internet was in its infancy (yes, I’m old). We had a few bulletin boards and such, but web pages and social media didn’t exist. Back then, we were basically re inventing the wheel every time. Now, the level of information and research that is out there is staggering. Are you making good use of the resources you have available? Using period materials in a period manner and style? Frankly, the level of costuming I was doing when I was Laureled ‘might’ get me a Fleur today. Yes, even Laurels have to step up.
Secondly, are you teaching? Are you sharing the information you’ve discovered? And by teaching, I mean have you taught at University? Major events? Somewhere other than the Shire and WV events? And it’s fine to teach ‘the basics’. As your own knowledge base grows, so will the complexity of your classes.
Thirdly, FOCUS! It is much much easier to become known for one main art/science that it is for the 27 other things you are also doing. Yes, it is fine to keep doing those 27 other things, but make sure you have a major, that ‘thing’ you become known for.
PERSONALITY/PERCEPTION: This is you. Are you perceived as chivalrous, courteous, an appropriate role model? People perceived as ‘difficult’ personalities have a harder time being noticed in a positive way and please don’t think that your behavior or how you are seen really doesn’t matter if you can produce gorgeous Art. It does. Also, are you looking your best? It’s fine to be Harry the Smith, banging away on hot metal all day, but for feast and Court, Lord Harold the Smythe should make an appearance. You add to the atmosphere and ambience of the Court, plus show that you are invested in the game we all play.
PERSISTENCE: How long and how much have you been around? Have you taken a couple of years “off” from the Society? If you have, be prepared to start at zero. Persistence also means more than just hanging around with your local group. It means that you are active and doing consistently good work, improving steadily. Also, if no one can actually SEE your work, it’s hard to get recognized.
Under this topic, comes the subject of TRAVEL. Do you travel? It’s a fact that Region 1 is a relative backwater of AEthelmearc. If you aren’t traveling, few beyond the borders of West Virginia have the slightest clue who you are. Can’t travel for whatever reason? Are you sending your work to A&S Faires or displays with people who DO travel?
POLITICS: There is an old saying that you are known by the quality of your friends.
Like it or not, this is a real thing. How is your household, local group or region perceived in other parts of the Kingdom? How many of your friends, either real or social media,
are Fleurs? It is unfortunate that being associated with a certain group can indeed increase or decrease the likelihood of receiving awards, but keep in mind that the power structure changes every six months.
PROMOTION: You NEED to get your work out there; particularly if you live in an isolated part of the Kingdom….no one is going to recommend you for an award if they’ve never heard of you! Social media has been a perfect platform for this in some ways. I have often advised that SCAdians who wish to promote their work set up a separate SCA-centric profile on Facebook, a solely SCA related page or a blog, the work to actively connect with others who share your interests. In my opinion, this really should be separate from your personal social page. Cat pictures interspersed among your research articles or pictures of your latest artwork don’t convey the right impression. Carry SCA business cards with your personal information, website, social media connection, etc. and hand them out liberally.
Before I was Laureled, the single most valuable piece of advice I received turned out to be: “If you want to be a Laurel, hang out with the Laurels”. I’m an introvert, so this was really hard, but I made it my mission to introduce myself to at least one new Laurel at every event. The same goes for the Fleur or any other award. Make it a point to get to know those folks. Additionally, know your Royalty! Itis definitely OK to introduce yourself to the reigning King/Queen while sitting around the fire pit. They’d love to know your name and what you do, believe me.
Lastly, use your resources well. If you find a Peer who is receptive to guiding you along the way, let them help you. After all, .been there, done that, right?
By way of disclaimer, this article is intended to express my personal opinion and experiences and is not meant as a primer on how to campaign for an award. Being a Laurel, my focus is on the Arts and Sciences, although those in the martial arts may find some useful tidbits herein.
Article by: Mistress Anne Greye
Photograph by: Lord SdSV