Tag Archives: tarot

What children’s authors get up to on retreat

I didn’t post last week because I was on retreat at Charney Manor in deepest Oxfordshire with the Scattered Authors Society.

Pimms o'clock in the Charney garden
Pimms o’clock in the Charney garden

As retreats go, this annual adventure is a very lively one – among this year’s sessions we had comedy improv, yoga, e-publishing, drawing, developing the work-in-progress, searching for the iron-age fort and the traditional Charney Quiz.

It's got to be around here somewhere!
It’s got to be around here somewhere!
Quiz night - my team was The Naughty Corner (we lost by less than usual)
Quiz night – my team was The Naughty Corner (we lost by less than usual)

One of my offerings was an afternoon workshop on writing the tarot. Tarot is useful, like dreams, because the cards you draw will be synchronistically connected with your current emotions and preoccupations, so the themes and characters they suggest will feel relevant and immediate to explore in your writing.

However, in an introductory workshop it can be easier if everyone’s working on the same image, so I like to start at the beginning with number 0, The Fool. Katherine Roberts has described the session on her lovely blog, Riding the Unicorn, if you’d like to find out more.

I’ll be offering a one-day workshop in Cornwall on writing the tarot in the autumn. In the meantime, check out the workshops page on this blog if you think you might fancy some dreaming-and-writing in Surrey this October, and please spread the word if you know anyone else who might be interested.


My session, with Celia Rees, on steering a happy course in a difficult market
My session, with Celia Rees, on steering a happy course in a difficult market

Death and the dream book

Well, I didn’t see it coming. When I finally finished my dream book last week, I was planning to break open the bubbly, but I just felt bereft.

Before I was ever published, I knew I wanted to write a book about dreams, and for twenty years, that book has been the heart of my writing life, at first a secret addiction, later an open obsession.

There have been various versions along the way, non-fiction, autobiography, novel, work-book… each new one rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the one before. I liked them all – my agents liked them too – but none of them felt exactly right.

The dream book defined me to myself, as a writer, far more than my growing body of children’s books. I’ve loved it, felt impatient with it, hated it in equal measure. I’ve wished I could put it down and get on with my  proper writing career.

And now I can. It feels like a death, but all week, I’ve been dreaming about babies. This reminds me of the Death card in Tarot, which is sometimes called Death and Rebirth.

Death in Tarot is deep change. As one situation ends, a new one begins. I don’t know what kind of writer I will be now that a third of my writing life won’t be channelled off into this dream book any more.

When I blogged about it before, I discovered that not every writer has a ‘dream book.’ https://jenalexanderbooks.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/does-every-writer-have-a-dream-book/ Although at times it has felt like a curse, I feel very blessed that I’ve had mine.

So farewell and thank you, grand passion of my writing life, and hello and welcome dream-babies of whatever is coming next.

Bubbly wine, anyone?

Next week – great excitement in the House of Dreams – Katherine Roberts will be calling in on her ‘Sword of Light’ blog tour to tell us how a workshop session she did with me helped her to find the story