tarot and improv
One of things I’ve been asked a couple times about my latest contemporary romance, Beautiful Accidents (available now from Bold Strokes Books), is, “Why did you choose tarot cards?”
The honest answer isn’t nearly as cool as I’d like it to be. I chose tarot as a backdrop because I love getting my cards read. To me, sitting across from someone who is going to tell you about yourself (sometimes things you already know, which is way more thrilling than it sounds), is so much fun. Is it because I love being the center of attention no matter the cost? Probably!
But also, I want to know what the hell is going to happen to me in the future. Listen, I know a tarot reading isn’t going to tell me every step I’ll make and guide me toward, oh, I don’t know, financial stability. Let’s be real, if that were the case, everyone and their dog would be getting a tarot reading. I do think tarot helps calm our fears about what the future might hold, though, and for someone with anxiety, like myself, it’s insanely comforting to know every move I’ve made isn’t going to lead me down the wrong path.
I’m rolling my eyes at myself right now, also assuming you’re doing the same. I know, I know. It’s not really “true.” But you know what? I think it’s great and helpful and I love it, and I’m gonna keep doing it because I freaking want to, okay?
I’m chuckling to myself now, instead of rolling my eyes, because I have no idea what you’re all really thinking about as you read this. You might be nodding your head instead of rolling your eyes. I hope so, honestly!
But I will say this: writing Beautiful Accidents was so freeing to me. Not only did I start writing it during a very strange, emotional, and heart-breaking time in my life, a turning point of sorts, I also put a lot of research into tarot and the entire reading session. My great friend, and fellow writer, Aurora Rey, helped me tremendously. Researching the cards and what they can mean or not mean was really refreshing. No two readings are the same, which I also love.
My two main characters in Beautiful Accidents are both tied down to what they believe are their fates. Neither thinks they have a way out, even though both desperately want out of the lives they are living. Bernadette is strapped to her family and Stevie is strapped to a fear of losing even more of her family. But both want so badly to grow and expand and fall in love with not only someone else, but also themselves.
My other favorite part of writing Beautiful Accidents was being able to put in the improvisational acting aspect, as well. I am Second City trained in improv and, let me tell you something, learning how to be an improv artist was the best time in my entire life. Not only does it teach you how “being funny” is not the point, but it also teaches you how to start saying, “yes, and…” more often. In order to build a scene, you rely on your improv troupe, so saying “no” to something is one-hundred-percent going to kill the scene. If I tell you I’m holding a tomato in my hand, I’m holding a mother fucking tomato in my hand. Not an orange. Not a pile of dog shit. It’s a tomato! Say yes! And build the scene off the tomato. Let the scene grow organically instead of trying to be funny.
“Oh, yes, thank you for getting the tomato for the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich I wanted to make for my toothless grandfather.”
“No problem. I also thought you’d like to puree it in this blender I’ve just purchased.”
“Great thinking! Without teeth, it’ll be hard to chew a BLT!”
“Exactly. And mmm, what a great smoothie it’ll be.”
The entire scene would go to hell if instead of saying yes, you say no. It throws everyone off, including your audience.
So, Stevie, saying, “YES, AND…” to a tarot card reading, when she really didn’t want to go (and had no real basis to not go), is a great lesson for her. She sees almost immediately nothing bad is going to happen, and actually, she ends up meeting the love of her life… She wins by saying yes. Ultimately, Bernadette ends up winning by saying yes, as well.
The underlying theme of the book is how accidents can happen, but they don’t always have to be horrific. They can be beautiful, and by saying, “yes, and…” to more in our lives, maybe we can find those beautiful accidents by building a scene you can be proud of. Life doesn’t always have to be scripted. Being spontaneous can be very fun. And for me to say that, someone with anxiety, it’s a big step! Normally, spontaneous, for me, is scary, but I’ve learned it can also be very enlightening.
Here’s to hoping your life is not scary, but enlightening. And the next time someone tells you they’re holding a tomato, don’t tell them they aren’t.
Happy Friday, y’all, and have a great weekend.
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WOMEN AND WORDS.