Posted in Quotes, random thoughts, Tarot, writing


Totally out of copyright map from c 1565

So begins a new segment of my blog, like unveiling a new wing of the building. I expect the furnishings will remain eclectic. With this post I have written five-hundred posts on Filling Spaces. (yeah-yeah, don’t count the other blogs, it’ll ruin the moment) Anyway, it seemed like the occasion was worthy of a little fanfare.

I wanted to write something grand and glorious to mark the milestone. Initially, I ambitiously set out to incorporate a mapping metaphor (getting lots of great alliteration here, though, eh?) and was going to incorporate all kinds of maps from fantasy novels (yanno, the whole ‘map out the future…blahblahblah’), but honestly the time got away from me and the task was overwhelming. There are A LOT of fantasy fiction maps out there, and since no doubt most of them are still protected by copyright, I thought it best not to run afoul of the law.

Instead, I thought I’d kick off the next 500 by posting some inspiring quotes to keep us all chugging along, whether it be writing, painting, making music, carving wood ducks, or whatever you do.

First up, Neil Gaiman, with some pearls of wisdom:

“If you make art, people will talk about it. Some of the things they say will be nice, some won’t. You’ll already have made that art, and when they’re talking about the last thing you did, you should already be making the next thing.

If bad reviews (of whatever kind) upset you, just don’t read them. It’s not like you’ve signed an agreement with the person buying the book to exchange your book for their opinion.

Do whatever you have to do to keep making art. I know people who love bad reviews, because it means they’ve made something happen and made people talk; I know people who have never read any of their reviews. It’s their call. You get on with making art.”

I think it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will love what we do. All we can do is hope those who do love it will find their way to it. Some people will say nasty things to make themselves feel better, or because they think it’s very clever, or in their superior wisdom they have passed judgement on you and found you wanting. They will always be out there, there’s nothing we can do about people like that. We already know we’re striving to be our best selves, and if we fall short of a narrow opinion, what of it? On we go.

“…it’s just another one of those things I don’t understand: everyone impresses upon you how unique you are, encouraging you to cultivate your individuality while at the same time trying to squish you and everyone else into the same ridiculous mould. It’s an artist’s right to rebel against the world’s stupidity.”
E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

I would go so far as to say it’s the artist’s DUTY to rebel.

“What had happened was this. When still young, I had gotten the idea from somewhere that I might be able to write… Maybe the deadly notion came from liking to read so much. Maybe I was in love with the image of being a writer. Whatever. It had been a really bad idea. Because I couldn’t write, at least not by the bluntly and frequently expressed standards of anyone in a position to offer any encouragement and feedback.”
Paul Di Filippo, Fuzzy Dice

They (that ubiquitous ‘they’)  just love to knock us down, don’t they? Fie on them, I say. Up and at ’em!

For those days when everyone seems to be laughing at you:

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your dreams. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

And finally, a small thank you to all of you who have been my own personal cloudburst when I was in the grip of an extended confidence drought:

“Encouragement from any source is like a drop of rain upon a parched desert. Thanks to all the many others who rained on me when I needed it, and even when I foolishly thought I didn’t.”

(acknowledgements in The P.U.R.E.)
Claire Gillian

If you need more encouragement, whatever your endeavor, I strongly recommend a visit to The Write Attitude. I pop over there whenever my confidence flags or I feel like life has kicked me one too many times.

A final thought:

Eight of SwordsThis one was hand-picked, I didn’t shuffle and pull. I knew this one was in there. Eight of Swords is typically a tough card to have turn up. The Waite-Smith deck and its many clones depict a blindfolded, bound woman standing in front of eight swords that are planted point down, standing like a wall behind her. It’s feeling hemmed in, like there’s nothing you can do, unable to see a way out. Kind of what I expect the sailors on Columbus’s ships felt. Have you seen those ships? I was on a replica of the Niña once. ‘Claustrophobic’ doesn’t begin to cover it. Imagine sharing a 1900sf house with 18 people. Sitting in that crackerbox in the vastness of the ocean is like the woman who doesn’t realize she’s not totally surrounded by the swords. They couldn’t see where they were going anymore than the blindfolded woman can see she’s not totally surrounded. Columbus had faith that he could get where he was planning to go, and that’s what we must do. It makes me wonder if someday the story of his voyage will pass into myth as a metaphor for perseverance. Avast, ye landlubbers! Time to weigh anchor; we sail with the tide.

Posted in art, Tarot, Vampires, writing

Guiding Star

Sorry to be late with this week’s post. I was deep into edits on the vampire novel last night and barely stopped for a bio-break. Happily I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first round of revisions and then I’ll be looking for beta readers to give it a look. I did, however, manage to pull a card just before climbing into bed last night, so here’s our card for the week:


Oh rejoice! The Star (from the Art of Life Tarot) is one of the best cards in the deck. It speaks of hope and happiness, keeping the faith. We’ve passed the trauma of card 16, The Tower, with it’s annihilation of the ego, the tearing down of the familiar, beating us back to bedrock. Now we stand on a clean open plain, gazing at the stars, ready to start over. This is your inner light, your guide. Follow your star. This is the hope of a new day. It’s time to focus on your inner self, your spiritual life, peace and renewal, rebuilding self-esteem, gathering your courage after a rough patch.

The Star is one of the cards that makes or breaks a deck for me. If I don’t like the Star card (and I’m able to see it before purchase), I won’t acquire the deck.

So here we have Van Gogh’s Starry Night, with a fabulous quote from Dante. My vampires like this one very much.

Wishing you starry nights, and your own guiding light.

Posted in art, History, Quotes, Tarot, writing


Our weekly card. Sometimes I pick one out that seems to be vying for my attention more strongly than the rest, but this week I went through the whole deck and couldn’t decide on one (although there were several contenders) so I shuffled and cut the deck and let the Cosmos decide what we needed this week.

So, who’s feeling all Napoleon-like? Anyone? Raise your hand.

Yeah, me neither.

As usual, this is from the Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone. The painting detail is from “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David. Turns out there are five versions of it, and this particular one is called the Charlottenburg. Since it was painted around 1800, I think it’s safe to assume the artist had some knowledge of what Napoleon looked like. So there he is, looking at us through the ages. Of course the painting is highly idealized, David wasn’t actually there during the crossing of the Alps to pose his subject.

Here’s the full version, found on Wikipedia:

(click to embiggen, then click again for the really big one)

So what can we make of this? The King of Wands in the Tarot is Fire of Fire (each suit corresponds to an element, and each court card – King, Queen, Knight, Page – further corresponds as Fire, Water, Air, Earth). Explosive energy, this guy. Boundless enthusiasm. He’s the one who dreams up the battle plans and organizes everything. Sounds like ol’ Nappy to me. He’s a hard-charger, and it’s never occurred to him not to try, or that it couldn’t be done. Does it always work out? Course not. Ask Napoleon about his trip to Russia. Maybe that cold put out the fire. He sure gave it the ol’ college try, though, didn’t he?

But nothing’s going to happen at all if we don’t have the confidence in ourselves to try.

And with that, I’m off to work on a story that I will hopefully be able to submit somewhere very soon. What are your battle plans for the week?

Posted in Office Life, Quotes, Travel, writing

Endings and Beginnings

I have to apologize, this week’s card is perhaps not as uplifting as some of the others. There is truth in the quote, though. How could an ending not mean a new beginning?

The image reminded me of what some of my own ancestors must have gone through, leaving their ancestral homes, never to return or again see the family they left behind. I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been. The Eight of Cups is a card that tells of turning our backs on something, running away, leaving something behind. I think right now I’d like to run away from my job, even though I know it would be a mistake. The pay is good, the benefits are good, the environment is pleasant enough. I can’t say I care for most of the people I work with, it’s an odd atmosphere in that respect. I’ve just never been so stressed about a job in my life. I don’t know that it’s worth it. Even if I could find another position now, it wouldn’t look good to bail four short months into this. That’d be hard to explain in an interview. I should try to tough it out for a year, anyway. I’m sorry to whine and complain, I’m fully aware there are people out there who have been looking for work for a long time (several of my co-workers from my last company who were laid off when I was are still unemployed), and I should be grateful to be working, and I am. I just can’t like this job. I was excited about it before I started, but it’s turned out to be nothing like I was expecting, nothing I was prepared for.

Weekends go by in a blur, and before I know it it’s Sunday evening and I’m already dreading Monday morning. I’m increasingly frustrated that I have so little time to write now. If the commute wasn’t as long as it is, and I wasn’t so completely drained by the time I get home at night I might be able to get something accomplished. NaNoWriMo isn’t even a remote possibility this year, even if I wanted to participate. I’ve got enough in the works now that I couldn’t justify signing up for it again anyway. Good thing, because I just don’t have the time.

I should look at it as a new beginning, but all I want to do is run away. I know, it’s childish. I need to just pick myself up by my bootstraps and get on with it.

Posted in art, books, historical fiction, movies, Quotes, Tarot, writing

A Gentle Start for the Week

Ten of Pentacles from the Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone

This card immediately made me think of “Little Women”. If you’re a guy and haven’t read it or even know what it is, it’s a book by Louisa May Alcott about four sisters during the Civil War while their father is off fighting and they and their mother and aunt try to keep the household running. The family was financially strapped (except for the wealthy aunt), and between the painting of the two girls and the sentiment of the quote on the card, it seems to be the embodiment of that book. I think of the girls in the picture as Jo and Beth (Beth was the musical one, played by Claire Danes in the 1994 movie based on the book. Jo was played by Winona Ryder, and Christian Bale played Laurie, their neighbor).

Though the March family is struggling financially, they pull together and do what they can to help support the family and eachother. Never were there four sisters closer and more devoted to eachother in literature (and probably life. Although the lives of the Bronte sisters has some parallels with the March girls). They write and perform plays to amuse themselves and their families, make personal sacrifices for eachother, spend time aiding neighbors in more dire straits than themselves. I think that fits in nicely with this quote by Senn. They enjoyed their time as best they could despite their lack of material wealth. I often wished my family had been more like this. My sisters and I were more often at eachother’s throats. Oh well.

The Ten of Pentacles is often called “the Wall St. card” because it speaks of great wealth, and as a pentacle (earth) card, this is usually of the material variety. This card suggests we look beyond material wealth to other things that truly make us happy. You can live without a lot of ‘stuff’ when your heart is full. An old Russian blessing says “May your purse be heavy and your heart be light.” Well, maybe our hearts can be light even when our purses are the same.

Have a great week.

Posted in art, books, music, Quotes, random thoughts, Tarot, writing

Thoughts as I Thinketh

Well, this was just going to be a quick post to show the card, as our ‘thought for the coming week’ but the quote got me started thinking, as I’m sure it was intended to do. The card is from Charlene Livingstone’s Art of Life Tarot.

I do think this is an interesting choice for the ‘Judgment’ card, as well. The usual image on Judgment is of people rising from their graves, with an angel overhead blowing a trumpet a la the Visconti-Sforza Tarot (Lo Scarabeo edition) Judgementwhich carries a far more anxiety-inducing promise.

But anyway, I digress. The Art of Life Tarot is such a gentle deck, all the cards are designed to be uplifting, encouraging. The Marcus Aurelius quote immediately reminded me of a tiny little book someone once gave me. She had herself been given a copy at some point and was so enamored of it that she sought out older copies wherever she could find them (garage sales, book stores, etc.). The book is “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen. It was written in 1902 and continues to inspire today. It’s now in the public domain and can be downloaded for free here at Project Gutenberg. The title derives from a passage in the Bible, specifically Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” I think Mr. Allen can rightly be called the original self-help guru, or motivational life-coach. It’s a tiny little book, all of 47 pages. The copy I have is a lovely little volume that may be a first edition, but there’s no copyright in it so I don’t know. The cover is done in this beautiful pink pansy design on a gold background that was hard to photograph, but it has dimension to it, you can feel the ridges in the gold. It’s in remarkably good condition with just a little wear on the bottom corners.

As a Man Thinketh

The basic premise of the book is whatever you think about is what you cause to manifest in your life. Direct your thoughts the way you want your life to go. But it’s more than that, you have to be willing to change yourself to change your life. Our life is what our thoughts make it, because our thoughts direct our actions. It’s not enough to simply sit around imagining yourself sitting in your dream house, all bills paid. You must make the necessary sacrifices to bring about the change. If you want to lose weight but won’t change your diet, nothing’s going to happen. To quote from the book:

Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.

Such a simple little sentence but packed to the gills with ramifications.

I suppose that’s what the Judgment card is getting at. We can transform ourselves, our world, our universe based on our thoughts. In the end, that’s what we’ll be judged on, whether by gods or men, the legacy we leave behind.

This is the last paragraph of the book, and I think pretty stirring:

Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this – in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep; wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is masterly; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”

Here’s some nice soothing music to bring peace to your heart, William Ackerman on guitar playing “The Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter”. The background is perfect with fall approaching.

Posted in art, Tarot, writing

Thought for Monday

I wanted to kick the week off with something to buoy our spirits. I liked this card from Charlene Livingstone’s Art of Life Tarot. It seemed like a good thought to lead us into another work week:

In the Tarot, the Six of Swords typically indicates a journey (physical or metaphorical) away from troubles, struggles, towards something better. Wishing you all fair winds and following seas this week.