It’s all in the cards

As well as writing my present novel, I seem to have lots of other ideas buzzing around… in fact I’m finding it hard to settle to one thing! Maybe it’s because we are in a bit of a turmoil at home with rearranging the house for various reasons, and trying to fit a gallon into a pint pot, but I’m struggling to focus on my writing – doing lots of it but not in a focused way. I guess when life calms down. so will writing!

One of my ideas which I brushed on a couple of days ago  was with a fortune-telling thread – a little like runes, a little like tarot, a little like horoscopes, but with something I had made up – so therefore would have authorial control over!! I had come across a list of twenty-six things which I had seen as a pattern somewhere, a tusked creature, a concentric squirl, a fork… and I imagined someone telling fortunes – or being guided by them on a daily basis.

So that was one idea… but then as I was doing that, someone was sharing images on Instagram from a set of cards and a written guide-book on ‘spirit animals’ and using the set as an oracle. There are forty-four oracle cards in this set (I know because I have actually purchased them) and there are different ways of using them – drawing a card each day, or taking three cards  and ‘reading’ them as past today and future, or using them as a guide to a problem or a relationship… or whatever…

I could imagine as a writer, taking a card each day and writing to that card – or rune – or one of my list of twenty-six, and having a continual story-line, but the narrative is guided by the random selection of card/rune/object… Supposing I used this for the National Novel Writing Month challenge? I don’t mean that the subject or characters would be mystical or magical, they would be ordinary people in changing situations… would that work? Could that work?

So… just to practice…

  • the card I randomly picked – a rattlesnake… the experiences that you’re presently going through are an initiation into fulfilling your purpose as a healer…

well… that does take some thinking about! I will write to that and share (in the accompanying book there is a little explanation of that!

  • the rune I randomly took – is ingwaz the rune of harmony
  • the item on my list – the seated man

So should I combine these three? Write about each separately? Do something completely different in a creative way? I will let you know…

Writing is something different…

Although I have never formally studied archaeology, and have only very peripherally been involved in one single archaeological dig (which was very exciting!) it is something I do find really interesting, and I read a lot about it. I did do a MOOC (massive open on-line course) with Brown University which was fascinating; obviously as it was on-line there was no actual digging involved, but it taught a lot about the principles and practices (it was called Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets, and unfortunately I don’t think it is still available)

Every year, as a Christmas present, my husband buys me a subscription to a magazine ‘Current Archaeology’:

https://www.archaeology.co.uk/

In July’s issue (they always seem to come a month early) there is the usual selection of articles, letters, reviews, features, comments, news… and much more. I’m sure with every subject or interest area, each person has their own particular favourite; for me it is mainly prehistory, but there are other areas too, that time between the Romans leaving Britain and the Normans arriving, for instance. In this issue, the featured article was ‘The Rise of Viking Dublin – revealing Wood Quay’s remarkable remains’.

https://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/features/wood-quay-revealing-the-heart-of-viking-dublin.htm

The article explains that the Viking era in Dublin, known then as Dyflin, lasted from about 840 to about 1170; the settlement started as pretty much a summer camp for raiding parties, a longphort, but over the centuries developed into a bustling, thriving, township. You can read all about it in the link – and an extended version if you subscribe of course!

Just as our world is multicultural, so was the own; Norse people, local Irish people, Normans from Britain, and Welsh and Scots, and what we might call Anglo-Saxons, traders and travellers from elsewhere; a Scandinavian language would have been spoken, and Irish, and no doubt a variety of Anglo-Saxon.

One of the items found was  a sheep’s bone, the scapula, and written on it in runic were the words ‘writing is something different in the soul. Amen‘ Isn’t that marvellous? Isn’t it so true? Amazing! And wonderful… and my new motto!

My featured image by the way is of the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin, not that far from Wood Quay.

A mystery

I write a great deal, and not just my blogs or my stories, but other random stuff; in the olden days such things would have been on scraps of paper, sometimes even the actual back of an envelope or fag packet (before the days of email, when communications came in envelopes with flaps, and when smoking was so common that there were cigarette packets everywhere) These days, I write an odd Word document, save it, and come back to it months, sometimes years later and wonder what on earth it was all about… the beginning of a story, an observation, a dream? Strange lists, quotes, random phrases… who knows, but they obviously meant something, and enough of a something to save.

I wrote some time ago about a book I came across, ‘Stones from the Muse – Runes for the Creative Journey’, Emily Herman and Jennifer Richard Jacobson; they had created their own ‘runes’ to be used as part of the creative process. The copy of the book I had, came with no runes; it was in a second-hand book stall, but I used the idea with my writing groups, when I created a set of items to be used as inspiration – in various different ways. The actual items could be used as themselves, or they could have a significance or meaning which could be the source.

I have just come across the computer doc version of the back of a fag packet… a list of twenty-six things… perhaps they relate to an alphabet, perhaps they are runes… who knows… I have quite forgotten, but here is my mystery list

  1. Seated bowman
  2. Bowman
  3. Bow
  4. Pattern
  5. Simple pattern
  6. Diamond
  7. Squirl
  8. Deer
  9. Buffalo
  10. Jellyfish
  11. Scorpion
  12. Turtle
  13. Standing man
  14. Pushing man
  15. Speaking man
  16. Crane
  17. Vulture
  18. Square
  19. Tusked creature
  20. Three diamonds
  21. Leaf
  22. Goat
  23. Frog
  24. Concentric squirl
  25. Y
  26. Nothing

I don’t know why they are in that order, if it is random or specific – and actually, I can’t even remember if I ordered the list in a particular way or why there are twenty-six – maybe a code for the alphabet? … so this list with its odd items , buffalo, jellyfish, three diamonds, is a complete mystery… Maybe it is one that my character Thomas Radwinter should be presented with… and of course, in the end, after much excitement and adventure, he would find the answer!

if you want to see how Thomas finds the answer to the other mysteries he’s set, here is a link to my ebooks:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

Even more musings…

I mentioned a while ago that I found a book offering the helpful suggestion of using objects as a way to move forward with writing… when you’re stuck, when the ideas won’t come, when the characters’ situations seem hopeless, and the twists of the plot are unravelling… what to do… The book was supposed to have a set of ‘runes’ with it, and had a guide on how to use them. For my writing group I gathered my own set of objects to consider, and think about symbolic as well as literal ‘meanings to them, and personal significance too – which would be unique to each writer.

This is what I thought about for my own ‘inspiration’…

  1. kaleidoscope – looking at things differently, seeing meaning in random things, beauty from broken pieces (the patterns in a kaleidoscope always look like bits of broken glass to me)
  2. broken pot – literally something broken, something old, something obsolete, disappointment maybe
  3. spoon – stirring, enabling (drinking hot soup with a spoon is easier than without, making batter is easier with a wooden spoon to beat it with)
  4. cup – empty space, a nothing which is useful (you can’t put tea in a full cup, but you can in an empty cup) containing/holding
  5. candle – illumination, ephemeral, temporary,
  6. rosemary – so many known associations, but maybe for me family – as I have two Rosemaries in my family, strong leaves take a long time to decompose so maybe endurance, cheerful little flowers, positive thoughts… maybe!
  7. olive leaf – again so many things already associated with it – peace, for example, but maybe a reminder of the fruit of an olive tree (or is that cheating?)
  8. boat – voyage, journey, travel, maybe actually, maybe mentally – a wooden sailing boat may have a different association from a powered boat
  9. dead flower – enduring beauty, a seed within, a reminder/memory
  10. seaglass – mystery! Whatever it was, it’s now not and impossible to say what it was , battered and smoothed by sea and sand

There were twenty objects, and today we considered the other ten, and here are my own ideas… I am sure everyone else’s will be different!

  1. pebble – endurance, beauty from age, smoothness
  2. shell – enclosing, protection, a shield, a perfect object – mathematical precision
  3. small elephant – intelligence, longevity – of memory as well as individuals, strength, stamina, patience
  4. chicken/cockerel – morning, dawn, new ideas
  5. foreign coin – finding worth in unexpected things
  6. plastic peg – holding together, a fresh start (thinking of clean washing flapping on the line!) closed/closure
  7. key – understanding, solutions, openings, undoing, revealing
  8. tree bark – disguise, defense
  9. lichen – mystery, enigma, unexpected beauty in unexpected places
  10. plectrum – music, poetry, harmony, creativity

noony%27s runes

Maybe I started the wrong way round, maybe I should have had the ideas first and found objects to match them…

The book I mentioned is “Stones from the Muse – Runes for the Creative Journey”

More musings…

I’ve written a about a little book I came across second-hand, “Stones from the Muse – Runes for the Creative Journey”; it should have had a bag of ‘runes’ with it, which I guess were little stones with a symbol on each side, but they had gone astray and all I got was the book. The authors of the book weren’t using the traditional Scandinavian fuþark, which people these days often use for trying to foretell the future, or how they might deal with what the future holds. These ‘runes’ were symbols created by the authors and were  such things as a window representing vision, a gavel suggesting judgement and an amulet for honour.

The idea is to have objects which have a significance to aid creativity – you can pull out several from the bag, and use them together for inspiration, or ‘read’ them to help with such writing problems as getting stuck, having an empty head, being bored, feeling idle etc.

When my creative writing group met, I put together twenty items which we tried to decide what each might represent – and of course each of us had different ideas! A candle might represent inspiration or meditation or illumination… What was interesting to me was that each writer fastened on a particular it, one person on a pebble, one on a shell, one on a piece of tree bark.

Here are the first ten of my ‘runes’… ans some ideas what they perhaps might signify or mean to me… well, today at least!

  1. kaleidoscope – looking at things differently, seeing meaning in random things, beauty from broken pieces (the patterns in a kaleidoscope always look like bits of broken glass to me)
  2. broken pot – literally something broken, something old, something obsolete, disappointment maybe
  3. spoon – stirring, enabling (drinking hot soup with a spoon is easier than without, making batter is easier with a wooden spoon to beat it with)
  4. cup – empty space, a nothing which is useful (you can’t put tea in a full cup, but you can in an empty cup) containing/holding
  5. candle – illumination, ephemeral, temporary,
  6. rosemary – so many known associations, but maybe for me family – as I have two Rosemaries in my family, strong leaves take a long time to decompose so maybe endurance, cheerful little flowers, positive thoughts… maybe!
  7. olive leaf – again so many things already associated with it – peace, for example, but maybe a reminder of the fruit of an olive tree (or is that cheating?)
  8. boat – voyage, journey, travel, maybe actually, maybe mentally – a wooden sailing boat may have a different association from a powered boat
  9. dead flower – enduring beauty, a seed within, a reminder/memory
  10. seaglass – mystery! Whatever it was, it’s now not and impossible to say what it was , battered and smoothed by sea and sand

I think this may need more thinking about!

The next ten are:

  1. pebble
  2. shell
  3. small elephant
  4. chicken/cockerel
  5. foreign coin
  6. plastic peg
  7. key
  8. tree bark
  9. lichen
  10. plectrum

My “runes” for my “creative journey”

noony%27s runes

I’ve written a couple of times about a little book I came across in a charity shop, “Stones from the Muse – Runes for the Creative Journey” by Emily Herman and Jennifer Richard Jacobson; it should have had a bag of ‘runes with it, which I guess were little stones with a symbol on each side, but they had gone astray and all I got was the book. The ‘runes’ were such things as a window representing vision, a gavel suggesting judgement and an amulet for honour.

The idea is to have objects which have a significance to aid creativity – you can pull out several from the bag, and use them together for inspiration, or ‘read’ them to help with such writing problems as getting stuck, having an empty head, being bored, feeling idle etc.

When my creative writing group met yesterday, I put together twenty items and we looked at them, trying to decide what each might represent – and of course each of us had different ideas! A candle might represent inspiration or meditation or illumination… What was interesting to me was that each writer fastened on a particular ‘rune’, one person on a pebble, one on a shell, one on a piece of tree bark and so on.

Their topic for next time is to do some writing using ‘runes’ – their own, mine, those from the book! I wonder what they will come up with!

Here are the items I offered:

  1. kaleidoscope
  2. broken pot
  3. spoon
  4. cup
  5. candle
  6. rosemary
  7. olive leaf
  8. boat
  9. dead flower
  10. seaglass
  11. pebble
  12. shell
  13. small elephant
  14. chicken/cockerel
  15. foreign coin
  16. plastic peg
  17. key
  18. tree bark
  19. lichen
  20. plectrum

Musings…

I don’t actually have a muse, but I know many creative people do… do have a specific person, thing, idea, place which offers inspiration. In mythology, the original Muses were nine goddesses who symbolized different arts and sciences:

  • Calliope – epic poetry
  • Clio – history
  • Euterpe – music, song, elegiac Poetry
  • Erato – lyric poetry
  • Melpomene – tragedy
  • Polyhymnia – hymns
  • Terpsichore – dance
  • Thalia – comedy
  • Urania – astronomy

Recently, while burrowing in the book section of a charity shop, I came across a little book, barely more than a booklet which I bought. It’s called ‘Stones from the Muse – Runes for the Creative Journey’. it’s by Emily Herman and Jennifer Jacobson, and originally it had a set of twenty double-sided stones, similar to rune stones, which a creative person could use to stimulate thought and help get over a difficult beginning, a muddy middle or an elusive ending.

The twenty runes which I don’t have, but which I guess I could easily make if I wanted, are:

  1. window signifying vision
  2. seed signifying ideas
  3. mask signifying fear
  4. knapsack signifying play
  5. tool signifying action
  6. whirlwind signifying chaos
  7. gavel signifying judgement
  8. arrow signifying vulnerability
  9. clock signifying organisation
  10. X signifying failure
  11. egg signifying potential
  12. blank signifying silence
  13. moon signifying dream time
  14. amulet signifying honour
  15. scale signifying balance
  16. tadpole signifying transformation
  17. cup signifying recharge
  18. lens signifying revision
  19. ribbon signifying celebration
  20. gate signifying marketing

I think this is an intriguing idea… either to use these suggestions, or to come up with some of your own, a manageable amount of ‘stones’ and maybe a personal aspect to the choice.

Herman and Jacobson’s book guide anyone using their runes through various processes… but you could work out your own way of using them.

I might try it with my creative writing group… or I might use the idea in one of my stories!

If you are interested in the book, here’s a link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0684839555