Self-discovery and the craft of writing: These are journeys we can take for a lifetime.
Learning to write fiction also teaches me about myself. Even if publishing a novel isn’t a dream of yours, try creating a few characters and penning a few pages.
Authors tell aspiring writers to “write what you know.” And you will, whether you realize it or not.
Park whatever you write. When you return to that draft weeks or months later, you might be surprised by the meaning woven into the narrative, however clumsy those words might be.
Write enough pages, and a “sage” will arrive whose wisdom guides you into a larger life.
That’s what happened several years ago, in one of my earliest drafts, when a friend sent the lead character to a tarot reader.
“Don’t you want me to tell you my question?” I asked.
“The cards know your question, if you know your question. Try to be concerned about what you want, not what I want.”
She placed nine cards on the table and squinted at The Devil, sitting off to one side. “This position is your environment – the environment surrounding your question or problem. What do you see?”
What do I see? What sort of backwards Tarot reading is this? Will she pay me later? “Uh, I see the devil…”
“People in chains.”
“Look closely at the chains.”
“Um, they’re open, not locked.”
“The Devil tells us you feel like you’re caught, that you’re giving your power away…”
“Gave it away, maybe. Past tense. I left him. The divorce was final last…”
She cuts me off: “You haven’t left, not really. You feel like you’re living with some consequences…”
I cut her off: “Of course, like a new job in a better city, big promotion with a bigger paycheck…”
She pulled two more cards from the deck and placed them outside the layout.
“You’re facing backwards, upside down like this card.” She tapped a long pink fingernail on one card with a few spilled goblets and a sad man. “You’re STILL married to two men, by heart not by law, and that’s your choice too, to be haunted by what could have been.” Two men? Had Melanie told her about me already?
“I don’t want to be married to either of them.”
“The ties are not about your relationship to the men, but your relationship to all the things you gave up to be with them. The things you feel you can’t get back. The ‘years the locusts ate’ in Job or Joel or something…”
She’s quoting the Bible to me now? This I could get for free back home in Birmingham. I finish the thought for her. “‘He will restore the years the locusts have eaten.’”
“Yes. The things you mourn, when you let go, you make space for a new story. For the next chapter to begin, you must turn around…” She turned the card toward me.“And face forward.”
She pointed at the other card, a woman loosely wrapped in cloth with swords forming a short fence behind her.
“Sometimes the thing – or person – you want to blame for your limits or confusion is not the true obstacle, and your new beginning is already waiting in front of you. You are like a baby bird, pushed from the nest and angry at the world for your free fall, crying for someone to catch you. Use your wings.”
“I feel sad every month but my doctor says that’s just perimenopause…”
“Your hormones aren’t the problem; they’re just helping you break through the space into your feelings.
“Pay attention to your feelings, and be kind to yourself, and let life work itself out.”
I’m feeling… I’m feeling… I’m feeling like I need Melanie to refund me any money I give this woman.
“So what is in my next chapter? What should I DO with my life?”
“Everyone wants to know what to do, but that’s not what these cards will tell you.”
“So these cards are smart enough to know a question I didn’t say out loud, but not smart enough to tell me what I need to do next?”
“Tarot never knows more than YOU know. Tarot just gives you a different way to look at your own intuition. If you don’t know what to do next, you won’t see those ideas in the cards, until you’re ready. Right now, you’re not even ready to ask yourself that question, or at least, not ready for the answer.”
She scooped the cards back into the deck. “Wait, aren’t we going to talk about the other cards?”
“Today, these three cards told us what you needed to know at this time. When you have a new question, call me for an appointment. $60, please.”
I repeated this story to Melanie. She thought the whole session was brilliant.