I have been thinking a lot about the artists’ vision. I spent four days at the CraftBoston holiday fair with my partner, a ceramic artist, surrounded by incredibly beautiful handmade objects. Every artist had a different vision. Some found their collectors more immediately than others. What makes one “better” than another? Why do we even ask that question? Of course we artists/writers want to make a living through our art, if at all possible, so we fall back on financial measurements. Who sold the most things? Whose prices were the highest? Who hit the bestseller list this week? Who got a agent? A book deal? But is that outside, external measurement of our worth really the right way to assess ourselves, or is it eroding our vision?
So the question I am pondering, especially in a world where the outside measurements have seemed a bit capricious and capitalistic of late, is:
How do we keep the faith?
I have been pulling a single tarot card to answer my questions, and this week, the card that came up is the Six of Rivers.
In the Shining Tribe, this is a card of pleasure. The figure, floating along in the river – which signifies emotion, the unconscious, creativity, dreams and stories – is hiding their face, content to be solitary. Embrace of another, embrace of the world…these are images for other cards. This answer to our question is a reminder that faith is personal, individual, that it starts and must endure within ourselves.
An anecdote, if I may, borrowed from the life of another writer who reached out to me because something wonderful had happened: an agent was interested in her work. Did I have advice? I thought about my own journey through agents, as I have had more than one. I thought, not about who the agents were or what they had to offer (or not just, because of course all that comes into play) but who I was – a different someone – each time I had to go out a find a new publishing partner. Over decades, I have moved beyond the “You really like me!” excitement, and past the “What do I say, what do I do, can I tell them that I sent my book out to others at the same time? (of course you did, you can’t wait on one stranger for months)” conundrum that has echoes of that first crush when you were a kid, when you were sure there was something magic to the exact sentence structure of what you might say to the unfathomable mystery that was the person you were crushing on, or the timing of your response. I have come to a place in my life where honesty, humanity, and above all gratitude, are evident, and they start in the self. In the personal gut that says I know my artistic voice, what it sounds like, and what I need to say in the world, and now what I need – and what I have the right to – is to take my time and find the right partner, who shares my dream and sees that vision clearly.
The Six of Rivers comes as a perfect confirmation of this conversation. The answer then to the question of how we keep the faith?
Be true to your passion
Trust your voice; go back to what moves you. Trust yourself and your worth. If you try to create the fad or the book you think will sell, you are putting your faith in other people and things, and what they think has value. If you follow your passion, your audience will find you.
A writing exercise to go with the tarot card? This one is simple. Write this sentence:
“What she/they (pick the pronoun that suits you of course) didn’t say, what they couldn’t say no matter how hard and fast the words collected in their mouth, was this:” then fill in the blank.
You might find this person is a character you are working with, or a persona. Or maybe it is someone new, or yourself. It may relate to a project you are working on, to crystallize the central urgencies you already know, or to give you insight into something you care about. Or it it may remind you of how your own passions are already infusing your creative work.
Wishing you inspiration and passion!
*In this feature, I’m working with The Shining Tribe Tarot: Awakening the Universal Spirit, created by renowned Tarot scholar Rachel Pollack, who taught me that the Tarot “is a vehicle to remind yourself of what you already know.” If you want to know more about the deck and its images, or have your own Tarot practice, here are the links.
**P.S. If you are interested in more Tarot, I am doing a tarot workshop at the Pele’s Fire writing retreat this year. More info at the link or on my website. We have one cabin left, due to a cancelation!
(Originally published on shewrites.com)