Tarot Writing Prompt: Desperately Seeking …

IT WAS SO FREAKIN’ COLD that day in the tiny Central Florida town of Oviedo that the anachronistic Oviedo chickens had huddled under the frost-bitten azaleas bordering the Ace Hardware parking lot and hunched in feathery clumps between oak tree roots.

A week before, I’d run a creativity workshop based on Julia Cameron’s ideas. Inspired by my own facilitation, I took myself on a combination Weekly Walk and Artist Date—to do just what I’d asked my workshop participants to do: walk, then jot down what I saw.

So, first there were the chickens.

After leaving them behind, I turned up Central Ave. and crossed a small bit of bridge (an asphalt hump, really, covering a concrete pipe through which a thread of brown water passed). There, I shared cold-weather pleasantries with a young black man on a bicycle, who paused—gloved, parka-ed, and balaclava-ed—to watch the trickle of rusty water lap against the rocks lining its narrow bed.

Bidding the young man goodbye, I wandered across North Central and through the sparse grove of oaks that separates Central from Geneva Drive. There, I came upon the white block Fountainhead Missionary Church with its thick panes of stained glass. How would the light  inside the sanctuary appear after traveling through those windows? I wondered. Would it be purple, like sacramental wine? Bottle green, like old hope? Deep sapphire, like a promise placed on a loved one’s hand?

Since there was no one around to let me in to see, I crossed Broadway to Blue Moon Antiques and Consignments. There, I overheard a nicely-suited, middle-aged guy telling the owner that his nineteen-year-old son, newly released from prison, had stolen, then hocked or sold, three boxes of his prized 1960s-1970s record albums, and that he was now touring Oviedo-area pawn shops, antique malls, and thrift stores trying to recover them. But, the store owner told him, shaking her head, none had made their way to the Blue Moon.

I stepped out of the shop just as the man eased his Taurus wagon slowly down the Blue Moon driveway and headed east for Chuluota.

From the wooden stoop, I waved at his rear-view … just in case he looked back.

Tarot writing prompts

The Eight of Cups is a wanderer. Seeking emotional fulfillment, she leave her past behind. She is guided on her quest by her imagination, by the possibilities that beckon from around the next curve in the road. And if she doesn’t find what she’s looking for, there? Welp, she’ll just keep on walking.

Here are three writing prompts inspired by the Eight of Cups.

PROMPT ONE: Write a series of three scenes about a character who sets off seeking something to fill an emotional gap in her life.

Scene 1: Demonstrate your character’s dissatisfaction with a specific situation—then show her walking out the (perhaps metaphorical) door in pursuit of something better.

Scene 2: Make sure to let the reader see what guides your character’s feet along her path. How does she decide where to go?

Scene 3: She’s discovered something! What is it? How did she stumble upon it? And does it really fulfill her unmet needs?

PROMPT TWO: If, on the other hand, like the “record salesman’s” father, your character is missing something specific—due to theft or carelessness—write a scene in which she traverses her neighborhood, trying to find what she’s lost.

PROMPT THREE: Or, perhaps, like me that day, she’s just wandering hoping something interesting will turn up. If so, what does turn up? And how does it change her life?

Novel-writing inspiration

Perhaps, as in the film DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, you might start your story with a character catching sight of an intriguing want ad. And why not cue up “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2 for audio inspiration?

The image of the Eight of Cups is from the WITCHES TAROT, companion book by Ellen Dugan, art by Mark Evans, published by Llewellyn Worldwide, and used with Llewellyn’s kind permission.

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