Moving Past Creative Blocks with the Five of Wands

This is the second post in my series on lessons for moving past creative blocks from the Five cards in the Tarot.

In this series, I’m sharing lessons from the Five Cards in the Tarot—the Five of Swords, the Five of Wands, the Five of Cups, and the Five of Pentacles—and tell you the specifics of how I moved beyond setbacks in my writing career. 

Check out the first post on the Five of Swords.


The Five of Wands

This card of sparring—of preparing for a battle, but not yet being allowed to fight—is, for me, all about the publication process. I submitted the manuscript countless times between 2009 and 2014, and was frequently a finalist or semi-finalist in contests. (Most poetry manuscripts are published through a contest system in the USA, or open reading periods at presses.) Several editors told me they liked the work, but it made a better second book than a first book, and I was mostly submitting to first book contests. Eventually, I took all the poems I had been writing that didn't fit in Call Me by My Other Name, including the section I just mentioned, and made what became my first published book, Mysterious Acts by My People. That book ended up winning the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, but it never would have existed if CMBMON hadn't been rejected. 

I also think of the Five of Wands as Grad School. Training to be a professional Author out in the world, but people constantly telling you "not yet, you're not ready" can be maddening, but I'm forever grateful for my commitment and perseverance to finish my MFA and PhD. I learned so much, and I miss having all that time to devote to writing and reading. I thought I was so busy, but I didn't realize how much free time I actually had! If we have chosen our mentors right, then we can trust their advice when they tell us we still have more to learn before we leave our training behind. 

Everyone wishes they could skip ahead to the Expert phase, but apprenticeship is vital to prepare ourselves. I'm so grateful that my manuscript wasn't accepted for publication in earlier versions, because it was not nearly as good as the final published version. I so badly wanted to be published, and there is so much pressure to publish fast and often, but it's not worth putting out a shoddy product before it's ready when we're trying to creative a piece of art. 

Stay patient with yourself, and your work. Quality takes time.


If you'd like to learn more about how tarot can help you work through creative blocks, book a tarot reading with me.

Stay tuned next week for Part 3 of the series, where I examine the lessons from the Five of Cups.

Deck used: Rider Waite Smith, published by U.S. Games Systems.