Will Dowd Recommends...

“Whenever I find myself at a literary crossroads, I reach for my Tarot deck. In my regular life, I’m a staunch scientific materialist (I even contribute debunking articles to skeptical outlets); but in my creative life, I’m an unqualified mystic. Ghosts, spirits, metaphysical forces—when the writing is going well, something supernatural seems to be at work. Connections suggest themselves. Lines appear from nowhere. We’ve all felt it—that sense of otherworldly assistance—just as we’ve all felt it withdraw abruptly, leaving us mired in self-doubt and uncertain how to proceed. That’s when I spread the Major Arcana on my desk and start asking questions. To be clear, I’m no Tarot expert. I used to read for others but became traumatized after dealing a friend the Death card. As her face turned white, I tried my best to reassure her: ‘It doesn’t mean you’re going to die—it just means your life is about to undergo a dramatic and irrevocable upheaval!’ Now I use the cards whenever my creative intuition goes offline. It can be a profound relief to let fate deal. Besides, the Tarot doesn’t offer literal instruction. It’s an image system open to interpretation. For example, this morning I asked whether it would be wise to pour more time and energy into a particularly obstreperous poem; then I turned over the Fool, that confident, skyward-looking youth sauntering toward the edge of a cliff. Would I be a fool to keep going or a fool to stop now? I keep going. When querying the cards, you inevitably discover that you already know the answer to your question. The spirit you commune with is your own.”
—Will Dowd, author of Areas of Fog (Etruscan Press, 2017)