Writing a Novel? Tarot’s Two Cents

BE IN NO RUSH TO REVEAL ALL AT ONCE! Be free and let life find its own pace. I am patience, and I am fruition’s reward. In me you will find the fertile ground in which to plant your seed and the patience to watch it grow to abundance. 

So says The Empress, in Emily Carding’s TAROT OF THE SIDHE—expressing sentiments with which no first-time novelist has ever agreed. Not once.

I sympathize. The fact that things take time can be infuriating. But, as the King of Prussia says (over and over) in AMADEUS, “There it is.”

This makes me think of my friend Mel, who is healing from hip surgery. She’s young, so she’s healing relatively quickly. But evidently not quickly enough. “I didn’t know it was going to take so much time,” she cried plaintively last week, after the drugs—and the novelty—wore off.

Like Mel to her repaired hip, new writers often come to a novel-writing coach astride a straight-ahead steamroller called Let’s get ‘er done. But (like Mel!) when they begin to understand that, as with most big endeavors, chances are good it won’t be quick—that they won’t be writing their book just once, from beginning to end—they ask, understandably, “Well, how long? Like, a few months? Six months? A year?!?”

And that’s when I have to share the awful truth, the thing none of us—not me, not Mel, not a new novelist—wants to hear: Things take the time they take.

We can stamp our feet (not you, Mel) and declare whatever ultimatum we want to our creative (or healing) process: “Well, I’m going to have it done by June.” Or Christmas. Or the family reunion (so I have something to show after all these years!). And if it’s not finished by then? “I’m going to _________ (fill in the blank: quit? throw the laptop out the window? get a job at Walmart?).”

But none of that sways the process. It will take the time it takes.

What does help, as I’ve learned by painful trial and error, is staying the course. Riding that darned steamroller to the end of the tarmac—no matter how seemingly endless the runway. Because, while art (or healing) may require more patience from us than we feel we can muster, the rewards of both are great.

And if that is not consolation enough, maybe this is: Our above-quoted Empress also says, You are safe in my hands as you grow and journey towards completeness. I will support you and bring you all sustenance, that you may bring the same to others.

Thanks to Emily Carding for her permission to share The Empress from her Tarot of the Sidhe (Schiffer Publishing) and to quote from the text. 

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