Embracing The Fool As A Metaphor For The Writing Life

Whatever you think of the Tarot, the images are deep archetypes and resonate with us on many levels. On April 1st, let us consider The Fool and why writers should embrace it as a metaphor for our writing life.

  • The Fool acknowledges he knows nothing and seeks wisdom. Learning is an integral part of life. We are all learning the craft of writing. My bookshelves are packed with books on writing, technique, plot, character building, book promotion and much more – I bet yours are too! I love to learn more every day and share what I learn here. I actually consider learning to be one of the meanings of life itself. We have brains that cannot be filled up, we can keep learning more and more and apply what we learn daily. Wow! That’s incredible. But we only learn by understanding that we don’t know enough.
  • The Fool is ‘the spirit in search of experience’ – isn’t that a great idea to aspire to? The journey to knowledge is long and never-ending. We can keep learning all our writing lives, we can always improve – each sentence, each paragraph, each chapter, each book improves us and our writing. We can explore other genres, new experiences, network with new people and enjoy the journey. So often we rush headlong, desperate for the end of the book we have in progress, whereas we should revel in the journey itself, enjoy the view and the experiences along the way.
  • The Fool is an optimist and naive. Both of those traits are good if understood correctly. Let’s face it, there’s plenty of doom and gloom in the publishing industry. You’ll never get a publishing deal. It’s very hard to get an agent. It’s nearly impossible to sell thousands of books. You’ll never be a NY Times bestselling author. Self publishing is a terrible idea. Why bother with blogging or social networking as no one is listening? …. and so it goes on. But then why write at all! We have to remain optimistic and a little naive about the whole thing. Believe you will make it, whatever your goals are… and stay the course, and you will make it. Life is surprising!
  • The Fool takes risks. Look at the picture – he’s about to step off the cliff! It’s a sunny day in the beautiful countryside and he’s about to plummet to his death – or is he? Maybe there is a little ledge just out of our view, we don’t know. This teaches us to get out there and take some risks – finish that project, write that first chapter, start tweeting, try making a video to say hi, write a guest post for a blog and submit it (bloggers are friendly you know!), try speaking about your book. All these things take courage and are a risk – to your mental health if nothing else! But they are worth it over time.
  • The Fool is alone but also has a companion. The man is alone but has a little dog, his friend along the way. The writing life is alone -only you can write those words from your mind. But there are also ways we can support each other and be companions along the way. Find yourself a writing group, online or in real life. Network with other authors online. This is brilliant as you choose when to be present and you will always find someone to talk to on sites like Twitter – just jump into the conversation.

Can you relate to the Fool?

Image: Flickr CC N0cturbulous

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  1. says

    I can most definitely relate to the Fool. I have been him and have used him in my book. For me, he is one of the most endearing tarot characters. Jump and the net will appear.

  2. says

    I can definitely relate to the Fool, in my writing and my life. I ‘dabble’ in the Tarot, and one of the really interesting things is about the sack that the Fool carries on his shoulder. Traveling on his way, as the Tarot ‘story’ goes, the Fool first encounters a Magician. Skillful, self-confident, a powerful magus with the infinite as a halo floating above his head, the Magician mesmerizes the Fool. When asked, the Fool gives over his bundled pack and stick to the Magician. Raising his wand to heaven, pointing his finger to Earth, the Magician calls on all powers; magically, the cloth of the pack unfolds upon the table, revealing its contents. And to the Fool’s eyes it is as if the Magician has created the future with a word. There are all the possibilities laid out, all the directions he can take. The cool, airy Sword of intellect and communication, the fiery Wand of spirituality and ambition, the overflowing Chalice of Love and emotions, the solid Pentacle of work, possessions and body. With these tools, the Fool can create anything, make anything of his life. But here’s the question, did the Magician create the tools, or were they already in the pack? Only the Magician knows. What an interesting way to think about how the human being
    “experiences” life! And it’s a great way to think about writing, too.

    Happy Fool’s Day!

  3. says

    If you’re up on your Joseph Campbell, the Fool is even more compelling to writers, since the Fool’s Journey is the counterpart to the Hero’s Journey. :)

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