Sunday, November 6, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Eight of Pentacles

Eventually, all creative work comes down to the moment where you either do it, or you don't. So it is with zero surprise whatsoever that I see the Eight of Pentacles coming up this week.

This is the first time this card has appeared as a part of the Writerly Tarot in an official sort of way, but it comes up for me regularly, especially when I am in need of a clear and unequivocal reminder that I need to put myself in front of the page and stay there until the words are on it.

The Eight of Pentacles is about putting in work, hard work. It is a card of commitment. It is no-nonsense and spare and detail-oriented. It is the work of final editing, the slog of the home stretch in a difficult race. The figure on the card is absorbed in his task -- there is only the chisel and the hammer and the disc before him. And the task is all there is. He and his work are one.

I am sometimes a lazy writer, preferring the day-dreamy freedom of the Seven of Cups or the exuberant optimism of The Sun to such a clear simple mandate. In those feel-good cards, it is easier to understand how our imagination connects us to the better angels of human nature. We soar in that energy, gliding effortlessly in clear blue skies. It is irresistible.

But there is joy in climbing too, in beating your wings hard, in pushing your muscles to make each downstroke count. The joy of exertion, of striving, of being in the moment so completely that you lose all sense of time. Psychologists call this state "flow," and it is literally brain-altering. And when you give yourself over to the creative process of Making Stuff Happen, when you strive for the painstaking perfection of the Eight of Pentacles, it will often reward you with such a state.

Sometimes. Not always. But when it is magic of the truest kind. And like all true magic, it begins with choice.

This week, let the Eight of Pentacles be your taskmaster. Find beauty in the nuts and bolts. Seek joy in the striving. This is not an easy card, but it is a richly rewarding one.

And now...back to work.


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