Tarot: They’re Not Just For Divinitation Anymore


darinbradley has piqued my curiousity and gotten me wound up about a project. We are thinking and ruminating. I also need a story. Tired enough to use the ole Symbolic Crutch. Here’s what it gave me.

Protagonist = Magus
Antagonist = Six of Swords
Conflict = Four of Discs (inverted)
Complication = 2 of Wands

How about that? I’m going to sleep on this throw and see what my subconscious barfs up.

Writing Dream = Odd Exercises


It’s been like the surface of the sun these last few days with no wind, The nights are filled with turgid heat dreams interspersed with wild moments of “Huzz-snork-ah?  Which kid made that noise?”  A few nights ago, I had a weird writer dream where I was invited to teach at Clarion for a week (because, I guess, every respectable writer is busy).  Not wanting to be called out on my lack of professional teaching skillz, I opt to be the crazy eccentric who tries to show them that “write what you know” is crap.

1st day assignment:  Everyone writes down their preferred genre.  I scramble them and give them back to the least likely candidate.  If everyone puts “military SF” in the hat, then they all get “paranormal romance” back.  I expext a short story in their assigned genre tomorrow.

2nd day:  I tell them that part of this week will be the importance of failing spectacularly and moving on from it.  Anyone who didn’t finish the 1st day’s assignment should hand it to the person on their left.  Their job will be to finish the story.  If they did finish their story, then today’s assignment is to take the characters and basic conflict of the story and transplant it 300 years in the past or in the future. Same locations through.

The trick isn’t so much as to teach them how to finish things (I’m leaving that to the other instructors) but to get them to stop being afraid of being creative.

3rd day.  I have a piece of cork board with 40 polaroids that I’ve snapped of random people over the last few days.  They’re to pick three.  One of them is to be dead by the end of the story.  The definition of “dead” is up to the writer.

4th day.  I hand out unlabeled soundtrack CDs.  They have to write a story based on what they hear. If the student doesn’t have CD listening capabilities, then their protagonist had better be deaf.

I woke up before we got to day 5, and I’ve been thinking off and on about how to end the week as well as the lesson being imparted.  I know I’d probably crash and burn on a few of these, but at the same time they are exercises that I wish I had been given because they would have gotten me thinking about how much freedom writing really is. Doing research for THE PROMISE OF PIRATES and thinking about that book, I’m realizing that a few years ago, I wouldn’t have even attempted to write this book because it was so far out of my comfort zone. Right now, that’s a huge part of the point of trying to wrangle it in my head. I know that a career can be built out of one trick (God knows enough writers have done it), but that’s a “job” and that’s not a whole lot of the appeal of doing this. So, yeah, I wish there had been more exercises that weren’t there to facilitate me writing the same sort of thing I’ve done before, but to get me out of my box and into the wider world.

Failure should be about as traumatic as putting your pants on backwards. You just sigh, shake your head and promise not to drink so many mai-tais in one sitting again, and put your trousers on the right way. But I really do think — at least in this environment and especially when you are young and new — that we should all be broken first and then allowed to put ourselves back together.

Finding the soft light with Hollydrift


A new profile about sonic sculptor Hollydrift has just gone live at Igloo. http://www.igloomag.com/doc.php?task=view&id=1348&category=profiles. It turned out a lot more fascinating than I had anticipated. Mathias has some insights about music and sound that are very close to my own (though his thoughts are actually translated into sonic work, while mine are just, well, “idle thoughts”). I love this quote:

“It’s safe to say what haunts me cannot be hidden in my work. I work in almost complete darkness, I’m in a dark, safe place and I just let things happen. It’s just the sounds and God and me. ”

Anyway, I think it’s a great read and there’s an EP and a few tracks readily available as MP3s (links from the article) that you should check out if all the blather piques your interest.

If Badly Aspected…


My tie breaker answer (notice the top five or so) was: “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Which, in a way, was asking for this. 🙂

You scored as XVI: The Tower. If badly aspected this can be the worst card of the Tarot deck. The Tower always indicates upheavel, possibly chaos, loss and destruction. Its effects are never pleasant and can be painful. The card illustrates lightning striking the Tower. The lightning cannot be avoided, the destruction it brings is inevitable. All we can do is attempt to survive and rebuild. The Tower brings sudden, severe change. When the Tower appears in a Tarot spread it represents sudden and possibly violent change, disruption or loss.

XVI: The Tower


II – The High Priestess


I – Magician


IV – The Emperor


VIII – Strength


0 – The Fool


XIII: Death


VI: The Lovers


X – Wheel of Fortune


XI: Justice


III – The Empress


XV: The Devil


XIX: The Sun


Which Major Arcana Tarot Card Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com

Some History Reading


I’ve been doing some sport reading (heh, meant to type “spot,” but “sport” works just as well) about the Middle Ages, attempting to find a point in history to start deviating. The more I’ve been reading and taking notes, I have been realizing this sort of book preparation is World Building Lite. I’m not sure I’m ready to invent an entire world (the time spent doing “research” would take me away from writing too long), but taking history and adapting it to my needs is sort of the same thing. The question that has been turning around in my head this morning is: is the gain worth the headache? As soon as you start modifying history, you invite the wrath of the history junkies. Regardless of the fact that I’m writing fiction and, frankly, I can do what I want, it’s my audacity of rewriting history that opens the doors for commentary from any chap who has an opinion about what has gone before.

Oh, I’m going to do it. Don’t think I’m looking for an excuse to weasel out of this idea. No, and this is the same sort of apprehension that still holds me about SOULS, I’m striving for some semblance of verisimilitude because it is an anchor for the reader — something for them to grab onto and assist their entry into the story — but I don’t want to get things so “wrong” that I invite derision. I want the background to be authentic enough to be inviting, but not so alien that I have to invent a thousand years of history to justify the “flavor” of the world.

This is one of the attributes of Steven Erikson’s Malazan series. He’s got enough of the history worked out — he’s been steeping in it for years — that the characters feel like they are inhabiting a fully-realized world. They reference history; hell, their actions are predicated by this fictitious history.

So, anyway. History. When I make the Borgias one of the villains of the piece and turn Lucrezia Borgia into a howling matriarch who seeks to perpetuate her family line in the Papal Chair, I know Will Durant will be turning over in his grave. Or how about turning Marco Polo into a lunatic who just imagined his travels to the East, but his “memoirs,” dictated in a Genoan jail around the turn of the 14th century, are the Holy Atlas sought by the Venetian League of Explorers because they might be true?

One Kraken Summoned


It took us all of three days to teach Solomon to say the new magic phrase. “Summon the Kraken!” He does it in his monster voice, rolling his eyes up towards the top of his head and growling deep in his throat. “Smmmon da Kraaa KEN!” He’s such a lovely trained monkey. I think it will go into the oeuvre along with “Cup of Gooooo!” and “More Coming!”

I have been idly researching the Black Death these last few days, wondering what if. What if the Black Death of the 14th century didn’t peter out in the early 15th century? What if it got worse and the Age of Exploration (you know, ’round 1492-ish) wasn’t an attempt to find trade routes but to find places safe from the plague. The early explorers were preparing for the Exodus from a plague-ravaged Europe. What if they all sailed out to see to find safe haven and…found something else?

THE PROMISE OF PIRATES. It’s starting to become a book idea. Alternative history type stuff. The sort of thing I never really wanted to get sucked in to, but you know? It’s been kind of fun deviating from history…