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Written by Marieke Lexmond
Life is a curious thing. When I was a young adult, I knew exactly what I wanted, and the older I got, my path became less clear. In 2006 we moved to the US, and I had to reinvent my life. Going from working full-time and teaching horseback riding to doing absolutely nothing was quite a shock to my system.
Tarot And Stories
I’ve always been interested in the Tarot, but never had the time to study it properly. In the late 80s, when I went to film school in Amsterdam, I began to collect tarot decks. But only when I found myself in another country with a lot of time on my hands, I finally started to pursue it more seriously. I joined a tarot meet-up group and read a lot of books about it. It’s an endless and ongoing indulgence because one can buy so many beautiful decks. And studying the cards is a lifelong journey.
Simultaneously, I came across a screenwriter’s software. There were many stories swirling around in my head and with my film background that was a logical form for me to try. I realized for the first time that writing was something I was able to do.
Apparently, I had lots of wild ideas bouncing around up there, which needed to find an outlet. One of the ideas was about a family that represented the major arcana of the tarot cards. That was the initial spark for what eventually became ‘The Madigan Chronicles.’ However often I tried, I simply couldn’t fit in a 2-hour movie script. Waaaay too many characters and storylines.
Turning A Script Into A Book
Several years later, when TV series became more popular, I wrote a pilot. The idea led to a structure of forty chapters/episodes that embody the minor arcana. People encouraged me to write a book, but at that time, it felt impossible. How on earth could I bring up the patience to do that? With time on my hands in 2018, I finally thought, “What the heck? I’m going to try it.” To my surprise, I absolutely loved it! To be able to have more space to explore the characters and to be in their heads was a thrilling experience. One I couldn’t get enough of!
After the initial exhilaration, finding your process and what works for you takes a while. All those writing courses I did over the years turned out to be helpful to filter what I liked and what I didn’t. Every writer is unique in their process. My advice is not to be afraid to pick and choose from all the things you have learned along the way and make it your own. There isn’t one way or THE way.
A Writing Routine
I produce my best work when I follow a routine. However, that is not how I keep my creative juices going. I’m a big believer that creativity inspires creativity. So, if you’re stuck, stop staring at that screen and do things that help your imagination to flow. I love to cook, which, in a way, is also a creative process. Another thing I find helpful are long walks in nature, while I talk to my characters.
My stories are about witches, so nature is a big part of the story itself. Nothing calms me more and inspires me again, then a walk under the trees of an old forest or along the ocean. The smells and sounds, I drink it all in. I take an endless number of photographs, finding beautiful light filtering through leaves or a dramatic landscape. Bees on a flower or other creatures, you name it. It puts me in the right mindset. I also make spells, which immediately connects me with the Madigan world. And I sell them on my website: www.underthewitcheshat.com. Each spell is unique, and as witchcraft is about feeling and connection, it gets the imaginary world in my head going.
The Madigan Chronicles
The Madigan Chronicles will be a six-book series plus ‘Tara’s Tarot,’ a tarot deck featured in the books illustrated by the wonderful artist and my friend Nicole Ruijgrok, with an accompanying book. To be able to work with another creative person is a gift. I had to learn to explain things that are images or vague ideas in my head, in such a way that someone else can take that initial idea and translate it into something else. In this case, tarot cards. While collaborating you inspire the other to do better and go that extra mile. I encourage all writers to find someone to tell their story to. A true collaboration can make your story infinitely better.
Writing is a bit of a lonely business, but that stops once you start putting your work into the world. Getting your book published requires a lot of help. Editing is an integral part of the process, and to be able to receive critique, and channel that into something better is a skill one needs to learn. The willingness to adjust and rewrite is essential. Equally important is finding the balance between what is reasonable to change and what to hold on to. Everybody is subjective, that includes the people giving you feedback. It will take some time to find the right mix of people for you. Don’t get discouraged. It happened to me. I would receive critique and I wanted to toss the whole thing. While I received the same notes from someone else, that made me want to dive in and make it better. Someone that resonates with you is everything. If you’re fortunate to have those in your life, cherish them!
Writing is giving me so much joy, more than I could ever imagine. Yes, it’s hard, and yes, I doubt myself. In the end, it’s worth it! Once I’m done with my six books, I will miss the Madigans. They’ve been part of my life for a long time. In the end, as a writer, there is a piece of you in all of your characters.
More From Marieke Lexmond:
These are the links to the books eBook and paperback, but they’re available on major retailers like Amazon, Barns and Noble, iBooks, etc.
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