Last week, following the big push of 1000 Words of Summer, I turned to the tarot with a question: Where to next? 

I was feeling a little burnt out, a little tired. I was craving more time to read, having sacrificed time I would have normally spent reading in order to hit my word count during those two weeks. An essay I’ve been working on for a couple of years was calling for my attention, but I wasn’t sure if I should try to keep building on the momentum in my novel project or take a step back for a little bit. So I shuffled the deck and asked: Where is my energy best spent now?

I drew Temperance, angel of moderation, symbol of the third way, the balanced path. Temperance is all about patience, thinking things through, accepting the ups and downs of life. Temperance is also a sign that if one has been going a little too hard, now is the time to slow down and find equilibrium. 

And Temperance is the alchemist, able to take seemingly disparate energies or ideas and blend them together to make a unified whole. I like to think of Temperance as the editor — when I have a mess of a draft, Temperance is exactly what I need to help me find the truth of the story, which is often a concept more complicated and nuanced than I could have articulated while drafting. It’s in revision that I’m able to mix and move and collage words in a way that, hopefully, adds up to something greater, something new.

I’m taking this as a sign to, number one, chill out for a little bit. Read, rest, fill back up. Take notes, but no pressure to do anything with them right away. Maybe let them marinate a while. The novel still grows — at this point, it can’t be stopped, just now I wrote the beginning of a new scene — but I’m letting it take its own time. 

Number two, go back to this essay and take another pass at it. Again, no pressure — I don’t need to have a final draft right now. But to try and practice a little alchemy, to transform something base into something noble.