Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Friday, June 26, 2009

Some ways you might not have thought of, to tap into your creativity

A couple of months or so ago, I discovered a book called Tarot for Writers.  This is a neat little book, and for those rationalists among us, it is not "about" divination, unless you think tapping into the creativity everyone has within, a kind of divination.  Be that as it may, although I haven't used it as much as I might -- how to squeeze the time in, to do this, in one's ordinary, non-writing life, is always a problem -- I've already found it useful in developing or bringing out things about my characters that I wasn't consciously aware of. 


So I recommended the book to several fellow struggling writers.  I don't know if most of them used it, but Nan Hawthorne noted that Yours Truly mentioned this to her in her latest blog(those interested will have to scroll down to see Yours Truly being noted).  She also noted that there is a Tarot for Writers website, which even offers readings that help the writer develop their plotlines.  I also noticed you can get a reading for your characters.  In my case, that would be kind of difficult.  Since I'm writing about people who were born (a) on another planet in a nearby solar system during the Earthly medieval period and (b) I'm writing about people who were born during a time in Europe when records of births and deaths were spotty and approximate at best, this probably won't work very well.  One of the places a (fictional) character came from actually exists, but not in the place I put it in(some historical purists might not like this, but I had a reason for doing what I did; the other place I might have used, was the place of origin of a fairly well-known family).  In another case, I'm not exactly sure where the character in question was born.  Be that as it may, this might be a tool for some writers.  All I'm saying here is, if you're a writer or other creative person, Tarot for Writers might be a useful tool.


In any case, just to give you an idea of how I've been creatively using Tarot for Writers.  I will use my lead female character, Illg, as an example.  Almost immediately, after doing a little reading in the book, I was able to assign the High Priestess card to her.  Although she is only fifteen in "our" years when her story starts, she  has what can only be described as "secret knowledge", some of which she only partially knows.  First, she is Dauarga(which the Neandertals who come from this nearby planet call themselves),and nobody on Earth has any idea  -- at least nobody in medieval England does(or anywhere else on Earth, for that matter).  Second, she has some rather unusual abilities, which drive part of the action in the story,and also give the "modern" humans around her some vague idea that there is "something" about her.  And she has to learn how to explain these unusual abilities to people, without getting her into trouble. It is a gradual process; some listeners -- including the lead male character, Hardwin(and no, I haven't quite figured everything out about him yet, so he doesn't quite have a card assigned) -- are willing to hear, and others completely misinterpret or misunderstand.  This is very much in line, in some ways, with the usual interpretations of the High Priestess, who is a symbol of mystery and intuition.  Though young and vital in many ways, because of her origins, there is "mystery" about Illg.  She also has knowledges about things that modern humans in modern times take for granted(she knows what DNA is, but she doesn't call it that, for example). People sense this and that also makes her somewhat "magical" and "mysterious" in certain ways.


I could say I "knew" this about Illg before I started; in a way, she is my best-developed character. I could also say there are "journey" aspects to her story, represented by the very first card in the Tarot deck, The Fool.  But all of the main characters "journey"; while this is not the kind of "literary" fiction that emphasizes "character change" all the major characters have moments of self-discovery, and this is part of what the Tarot is about. 


This method of "getting to know your characters" may not be for every creative person or every writer, but it has helped me, and there will be other characters, and other times, when the use of this book may be beneficial.

Anne G

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