Do you need help grounding your writing? Want to know why you can’t focus, or what you should be focusing on? Maybe you want to know how to go forward. What’s next? Or, if you have come to a fork in the road, how do you choose?
When I have questions like these, I pull a Tarot card. Often it’s a single card, which answers the question: What do I need to know right now? It’s been an incredibly helpful way to get around my blocks and habits, to take some risks and find some epiphanies. So in this new, biweekly feature for She Writes that I am reposting on my website here, I’ll be pulling a card for all of us in response to a question that seems timely, and then I’ll use it to offer a message for your writing life and your work. I’m working with the Shining Tribe deck, by renowned Tarot scholar Rachel Pollack* who taught me that the Tarot “is a vehicle to remind yourself of what you already know,” which seems perfect for writers. So here goes. . .
Today, I asked this question:
What do we need to remember?
The answer was the card Awakening.
The Card: Awakening is the 20th card in the major arcana: the card of transformation, of realization, and a shift in perception. This “awakening” is to the true self, without doubt. It suggests a joining with others, and responsibility. Unlike the Judgement card in the traditional Rider-Waite Tarot deck, this spirit has come for everyone. All rise!
So what does this card mean for you, as the writer?
Remember that the role of the artist is to shine the light.
What do you see when you look around you? What needs to be addressed, revealed, celebrated or transformed? Where do you see a different, or unspoken, truth? In other words, what do you need to say?
Every person has their own unique perspective, and your writing is rooted in how you experience our shared world. Remember that the role of the artist in any society is to offer that different view, to encourage us to reconsider our commonly-held beliefs so we can grow and change together. Sometimes, our art is a direct challenge; other times, an exploration, a celebration, or a dissection. Your story may be dark or painful, it may seem apolitical and personal, but as long as it is your truth, it matters. Sharing your artistic vision can literally shift the way the rest of us see.
It can also bring us together. All rise, remember? When readers encounter feelings and experiences they share in someone else’s stories, those strangers are no longer so strange. The more stories, the more truths, the more chance that they will find validation in your experiences or your imagination. So, whether you are still dreaming, or writing, or in your final edits, take some time to reconnect with what is universal in your story. Don’t forget: the people in Awakening are standing in the same pool of consciousness. Together, they lit the windows in their world.
Remember this: Do not doubt your voice, or the fact that we need it. Trust the light, and embrace your true self. Only you can tell your story.
How can you apply this card to your work?
In the coming weeks, I may give you a series of questions to ask yourself in this section, or offer you a writing prompt or exercise. My focus for your work may be different than the focus for you as a writer. I encourage you, also, to find your own connections between the card and what you are working on, and I feel quite comfortable that you will find some!
This time, I want to go back to the card, and answer today’s question very simply:
Remember to transform.
Do your characters change over the course of their experiences?
Is everyone safe and the same in the end?
Do you have enough twists in the plot?
Is your reader pretty sure, right from the beginning, that she knows where she is going, and does she get there pretty much exactly as she expects? (If so, you need some surprises!)
Does an image in your poem allow your reader to experience something in a new way?
Does the reader change? Did you make her laugh, break her heart, teach her how to dress a wound? Will she always think of herself now as your sister?
Keep it dynamic. Keep it unique. Keep it true to your felt experience. Keep it connected to the essence of our shared humanity. I suspect that you will hear the cards repeat some of these messages in the coming weeks, just when you most need to remind yourself.
*The Shining Tribe Tarot: Awakening the Universal Spirit, created by Rachel Pollack, comes with a detailed book that describes the nuances and the inspiration behind each card. If you want to know more, or have your own Tarot practice, I strongly recommend it.