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Last week we were watching an episode of The Blacklist, which we’ve been binge-watching on Sky. But I got the feeling that one of their plotlines was a bit weak, a bit thin, a bit … s t r e t c h e d … to fit the storyline. It made me wonder what I’d do with it.
I’ve also been reading an excellent writing book by Elizabeth George. Mastering the Process: from idea to novel is George’s sequel to Write Away: one novelist’s approach to fiction and the writing life and, in my opinion, a much more helpful read.
In the latest book, she outlines her process more thoroughly, using working examples throughout from her own notes for Careless in Red. She also provides optional exercises at the end of each chapter, each one building on the previous one.
In this book, Elizabeth George writes about writing a stream of consciousness, something that she does for her locations and her characters. She may do it for more than that too, but I haven’t finished reading it yet. I think I’d also call it free-writing.
Inside my head, I started to plot my own alternative to the television programme and I found my mind wandering off and adding more to the story, and then adding more to other stories I’ve been planning. And then I was coming up with more backstory for my main character in The Fool, and I thought perhaps this story would fit in with that Tarot series of mine.
I didn’t know whether to make it a major story (the major arcana) or a minor character backstory (the minor arcana). The majors are novellas; the minors are short stories that will be collected into a volume for each suit (wands, swords, pentacles, cups). But the more I thought about it, the more substantial it became.
Before I lost it all, I decided to start writing it down. The poet bought me some really nice notebooks a few months ago, and I chose one of those to start my stream of consciousness.
As I was writing, though, and having decided it would be a major story, or novella, I started to wonder which Tarot card this story belonged to. So I spread my deck out to see which one jumped out at me. And I stared at them for ages.
Interlude: These Tarot stories are only very loosely based against the cards. They’re not mystical or spiritual in an in-your-face way, but there is a very slight undercurrent.
I’m not sure at the moment whether or not to write these Tarot stories in order or out of order. I suppose it would be more realistic to have the card fall out of the pack or be dealt in random order. But the more I thought about my story, the more I thought the magician was the best option.
And that would make them almost in order. I say almost because I already have ideas for the hanged man and the tower, but also the high priestess. The high priestess would put them almost in order too. But I’m still umming and ahhing about that.
I took a photograph of the full major arcana so I could slip the image into my story file and have it to refer to whenever I need to. I also took out two of my jumbo Tarot cards and scanned those in for the individual story files for The Fool and (probably) The Magician.
I thought one picture or the other might make a nice illustration for this blog post, but when I blew the images up to crop them, I noticed there were copyright marks on them.
My Tarot cards are Rider-Waite, and copyright on the original designs expired in 2012 as the designer of the cards, and occult writer, A. E. Waite would have been dead for 70 years by then.
Patricia Colman Smith was the illustrator, but she was hired and paid a one-off fee and not actually accredited for the work. Smith apparently claimed that she was never paid for this work, and anyway, UK copyright law may still protect Smith’s copyright until 2021. The deck was originally published in 1909.
My pocket pack of Universal Rider-Waite cards were re-coloured by another artist and reproduced by US Games, which constitutes new matter, and the copyright on these cards states 2004 in favour of US Games. I had to zoom in on my scan of the jumbo cards to read the copyright on those. They too were US Games, but this time dated 1971.
I broke away from my stream of consciousness to find out whether or not I needed permission to reproduce my own photograph of my own personal deck on this blog. I couldn’t find anything conclusive other than when in doubt, get permission. So just in case, I fired off an email to US Games.
In the meantime, I found this, which makes an interesting read, if you have the time or the inclination. But US Games came back to me within hours, and they were more than happy for me to use the cards as an illustration for the blog. All they required was the wording in the caption, which was easy enough.
My workflow, however, was interrupted and I decided to leave it as I had a quick editing job to do. But there, dear reader, is the jump-about-mind of a writer. Or this one at any rate.
Last week was very much a bitty week work-wise and I didn’t get all that I wanted to do done. This week will be better as we spent Saturday moving the rest of the stuff over from the old house (the outside), and Sunday putting things on walls.
My office looks like my office again. My murder board is on the wall as are 2 noticeboards, my calendar, a small bookshelf, 2 pictures, and a clock. My notebooks are back on their shelf and I have a mandela hanging from one of the boards for luck. And I finally got my printer to print wirelessly! Hurrah!