I’ve been sharing my experience of writing the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy—that it started out as one book and now may actually be four books. One of the problems is that demanding characters keep showing up and so do intriguing twists to the plot.
That’s one set of issues, but there is another set which is related. It requires me taking my psychologist off the shelf. Being a clinical psychologist has been interesting and demanding, but after all these decades it seems I have no greater fixed clarity.
I still have to ask, What is reality? And I also still have to ask, What is mental illness?
Okay. There, I said it. There is a fundamental problem. Well, two fundamental problems. First of all reality is maddeningly unclear. Second sanity and mental illness have no bounds.
The Matter of Reality
Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder. And reality is in the eye of the beholder as well. Is that bad? After decades of dealing with psychology my answer is clear. Reality is a matter of what is serviceable and functional—broadly defined. We don’t have to agree and our respective viewpoints may serve our respective purposes. If we have the same job and the same focus, that is another matter.
The end point is respect and accepting that these different views need not be considered a problem so long as they do not serve negative purposes. Currently we are seeing the down side of this issue about reality on the political stage and the uproar and potential devastation are terrible to consider.
So again, we see it is a matter of functionality, but in some instances there are destructive orientations. Reality may not be at issue but intent may be the key issue.
The essence here is related to intent and outcome. The wonderful thing is that in writing fiction we can serve whatever purpose we choose and it is up to the reader to love the story or to throw the book in the trash.
Quite awhile back there was a movement to move virtually everything related to human nature into the health field. Our mental status and related functioning was dragged in kicking and screaming. To this day there is a dispute about what is and is not mental illness.
Our differences are substantial and, especially thanks to Carl Jung, we understand that there can be vast differences in personality. That means those differences are often great but not pathological. The issue again comes back to functionality. We often have to see what the outcome is or how harmful the person is. It remains complex and we have to respect the complexity.
What Is The Point? (It’s about time you may be saying!)
While the issues of reality and mental illness do have real world consequences, the basic point is applicable to the world of fiction writing. In fiction we can swing open the door for exploration and what we see is generally safe and can be intriguing. As I indicated above I found that characters could be insistent and plots could be intriguing in many forms. In the end, in fiction we see how nuanced our lives can be and that our different realities and functionality enrich our lives. And that enrichment is not just in our books but in our existences. There is much to be enjoyed and savored and, yes, managed.
What have you concluded?
Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt
Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page
Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt
Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership
Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt