Hey Author! Do You Think You’re in Charge?

 

The Same Question To You

We all like to think we are in charge of our lives and, at least to some degree we are. But the author of fiction has an essential problem because he or she is creating something. The process can be surprising.

I’ve come to believe that we live in an emerging universe. As our sight has improved we see what a dynamic place the universe it and we may accept its creativity or fear its dynamism. The same alternatives can be seen in our personal world close in. We each have to deal with what we may be in charge of.

Where Does Writing Fiction Lead Us?

For a long time I felt moved to write fiction but the demands of my life always got in the way. There were thing like marriage, children, a job. They demand our time.

When at last I had the luxury of focusing on stories stirring in my head I found I was not alone. Earlier I talked about the evenings in a valley in northern Maryland and the spirits who dwelled there. Well there were other spirits, or characters if you will, who were nearby and I did not suspect them. They became demanding and, in their own way shaped what I wrote.

My Own Expanding Universe

I thought to write one book but swiftly it became a trilogy. And now it seems there may be a fourth book. At the same time I have to silence callings to other elements that keep developing and creating other stories. Having to deal with this insistent gathering was not in my plan.

In some way it is another set of personal waves. I believe in waves in the lives of humanity personally and collectively and that we have our own life but it is part of the lives of the collective. That means we are never entirely in charge.

Focusing the Challenge

Is that bad? In the end it is essential to see it as enriching. How boring otherwise. We might as well be sitting isolated on a desert island. One essential focus is on where we may be going collectively. Of course as a small individual in the larger crowd we must understand that we are not in charge. And, of course, we can ask if humanity as a whole is in charge.

More recently we are finding evidence of the fundamentals of life in asteroids and are assuming they exist on other planets. That means in a broad sense the universe is alive. Of course our religions have always led us to believe in greater beings but too often we turned in and believed it was all about us and our deity. But, what if it is merely a universe of a living form and that we may find our way to a larger and more diverse future than we had ever thought might be possible.

The Creative Universe

As I’ve been writing my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I was constantly thrust to the point where it kept expanding into a larger and larger framework which imposed the thought of a living universe calling us. I haven’t created any of that and wonder where I’m being led. Do I think I am in charge? Not really!! 

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

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Fiction Writing Process II – An Inherent Process

If you write fiction, what is your process?

An Outpouring

At last the writing of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy began. It led initially to scattered notes which shaped a global outline. As I said previously, I found definitive guidance in the  story arc process described by Dara Marks. It is visually and conceptually helpful and is found in her book INSIDE STORY. 

Intrinsic Structure

When looking at the arc I became immediately aware of how I had been seeing the process in films. Being highly visual myself, it made sense. And then I looked at my notes and could see that much of it fit her arc. In fact each book fit the arc and all three books together composed an arc. Amazing! It turned out that moving a few chapters reinforced the overall arc. It was then that the outpouring took the form of the actual detailed writing following the construction.

One of the things that became clear was that there was an intuitive process in writing, at least for some of us. My notes indicated a fundamental attraction to an arc. I had not been aware of it. What Marks had put together was a highly useful guide. Unbounded creativity is one thing, but it also takes shaping if it is to be sufficiently grounded. 

Interaction with Characters

The whole process was so compelling that I did not stop with book 1, but went straight through a first draft for all three books. That turned out to be crucial because back and forth reinforcements and shaping were occurring. With all three books in view I could see which characters were working or had staying power. I had to kill one of my darling characters and reshaped others. I also began to discover secrets for some of the characters which had to be worked out in the plot. This process added interest and led to firming up of the arcs. 

Detailing often came to shape the story. Once the substance of a given character became clear, that in turn led to refinement of plot and interactions. There was obviously a very dynamic process involved. 

Inherent Process

It was also apparent that layering was occurring. And having all three books was proving crucial. The foundation had been laid, the flow of the arcs established and the characters developed more fully. I could clearly see that my intuitive personality function had been crucial to the concept and my thinking type auxiliary was helping me with the building as well as helping me seek resources.

Personal Lessons

As a psychologist I couldn’t resist looking at the process in general and also the contributions made by each component of the person doing the writing. And, of course, fiction leads us to lessons about our own humanity. We resonate to certain characters more than others and that speaks to who we are as a person. Do we get affirmation of ourselves or does it lead us to self examination and refinement? And what of the villains or the people to whom we do not resonate? Surely we have lessons to be learned from them and revelations.

Clearly reading is not a passive activity. It enhances our lives and ourselves. And then there is the question of what it may do for the author.

What processes in your life lead you to personal development?

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

Fiction Writing Process I – The Birth and Shaping of Fiction

Various Sources and Resources

The writing process is fascinating. There is conventional wisdom about how to do it, but there is considerable variation among those of us who write fiction. Nothing is universal. Clearly we are using our personal resources, but certainly we all need editors and a proofreader at the end. Of course there is the matter of inspiration. For me, I found some surprises. And those surprises came at many levels. First I noticed that I reached a point in the development of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy when I realized that I had been working on it, in what I call the back of my brain, for decades. 

Sources of Inspiration

And I found the source of inspiration was anything but confined. Over my life I’ve worked in a number of environments from medical establishments, helping people with personal conflicts, assisting in vocational choices and addressing inner city poverty. In the latter, our staff had to do battle with entrenched interests among the higher ups. While they were not despoiling the earth, they were working against the development of a rich new way to deliver services. Such opposition can be seen at all levels of our lives and in our societies.

Many Changes and Sources   

And at the time women were becoming more and more central and influential. My mentor was an extraordinarily bright black women. My feminist orientation was born in those days. Later I moved on to dealing with the crisis management of stepfamilies in formation. And through it all I was getting deep into people’s personal lives in psychotherapy and some of it was simply life management. 

From my educational background I had acquired a fascination with mythology and cultural processes. All of these elements coalesced in causing me to watch the world stage and political intrigue as our social life on this planet developed and we descended into environmental and social crises. 

And more recently women rising to power has become more central as they gained control over their fertility and cultural events defined a need for new roles. I won’t try to detail the process because it is complex and is well covered elsewhere. But we can see their rise worldwide and the benefits attached are truly stunning.

Melding Sources and Themes

When I put all these components together a story was taking shape in my brain. It was attuned to feminism, the reality of growing conflicts and portrayed the need for stewardship of all kinds. And, of course, it had to have a mythological context which enhanced its creative shape.

Shaping the Story

At some point the question becomes how to shape the story. The author can simply start writing, can make notes and can also organize. My wife writes screenplays and in her work I saw something fascinating in the form of Dara Marks’ (see www.DaraMarks.com) Transformational Arc. I recognized it immediately. It is apparent at the movies. Specific elements are built including high points and culminations such as “as bad as it gets” which is the crisis that generally comes about three quarters of the way through a movie. The system does a wonderful job of shaping stories so they thrive rather than plod. I also used Carl Jung’s personality typology to help guide me in developing and joining characters. In fact, I present this tool in my book Creating Characters and Plots which is available as an ebook on Amazon.

But there was also the matter of containment when inspiration was truly sparked. The outpouring began which led to three books. I refer to it as coming from the back of my brain, but we know such things are fortified by the contributions of the right brain. And, with my knowledge of Carl Jung’s personality typology I could see that my personality components were making a contribution. My primary function of Intuition was leading me to speculative fiction and my auxiliary function of thinking was saving me from utter disorganization because it forced me toward organization.

In subsequent posts I’ll give more details on various components of what I call the writing process and what aids its organization and development.

What shapes the story of your life?

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

Fiction Writing Process I – The Birth and Shaping of Fiction

Various Sources and Resources

 

The writing process is fascinating. There is conventional wisdom about how to do it, but there is considerable variation among those of us who write fiction. Nothing is universal. Clearly we are using our personal resources, but certainly we all need editors and a proofreader at the end. Of course there is the matter of inspiration. For me, I found some surprises. And those surprises came at many levels. First I noticed that I reached a point in the development of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy when I realized that I had been working on it, in what I call the back of my brain, for decades. 

Sources of Inspiration

And I found the source of inspiration was anything but confined. Over my life I’ve worked in a number of environments from medical establishments, helping people with personal conflicts, assisting in vocational choices and addressing inner city poverty. In the latter, our staff had to do battle with entrenched interests among the higher ups. While they were not despoiling the earth, they were working against the development of a rich new way to deliver services. Such opposition can be seen at all levels of our lives and in our societies.

Many Changes and Sources   

And at the time women were becoming more and more central and influential. My mentor was an extraordinarily bright black women. My feminist orientation was born in those days. Later I moved on to dealing with the crisis management of stepfamilies in formation. And through it all I was getting deep into people’s personal lives in psychotherapy and some of it was simply life management. 

From my educational background I had acquired a fascination with mythology and cultural processes. All of these elements coalesced in causing me to watch the world stage and political intrigue as our social life on this planet developed and we descended into environmental and social crises. 

And more recently women rising to power has become central as they gained control over their fertility and cultural events defined a need for new roles. I won’t try to detail the process because it is complex and is well covered elsewhere. But we can see their rise worldwide and the benefits attached are truly stunning.

Melding Sources and Themes

When I put all these components together a story was taking shape in my brain. It was attuned to feminism, the reality of growing conflicts and portrayed the need for stewardship of all kinds. And,of course, it had to have a mythological context which enhanced its creative shape.

Shaping the Story

At some point the question becomes how to shape the story. The author can simply start writing, can make notes and can also organize. My wife writes screenplays and in her work I saw something fascinating in the form of Dara Marks’ (see www.DaraMarks.com) Transformational Arc. I recognized it immediately. It is apparent at the movies. Specific elements are built including high points and culminations such as “as bad as it gets” which is the crisis which generally comes about three quarters of the way through a movie. The system does a wonderful job of shaping stories so they thrive rather than plod. I also used Carl Jung’s personality typology to help guide me in developing and joining characters. In fact, I present this tool in my book Creating Characters and Plots which is available as an ebook on Amazon.

But there was also the matter of containment when inspiration was truly sparked. The outpouring began which led to three books. I refer to it as coming from the back of my brain, but we know such things are fortified by the contributions of the right brain. And, with my knowledge of Carl Jung’s personality typology I could see that my personality components were making a contribution. My primary function of Intuition was leading me to speculative fiction and my auxiliary function of thinking was saving me from utter disorganization because it forced me toward organization.

In subsequent posts I’ll give more details on various components of what I call the writing process and what aids its organization and development.

What shapes the story of your life?

        ######

  Books by Roger B. Burt               

Available at Amazon                      Coming Soon                                         Book 1 of the:                                   Book 2 of the:

Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy-Mission Called          Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy-Challenge                       Women in Power                                                  The Chosen Rise

                                      

The Psychologist and the Unconscious

 

Long ago and far away when I was in college and graduate school three men led me onto very different roads.

Leslie White

First came Leslie White, the father of cultural anthropology. An old man walked out on a stage before a bunch of college students and utterly mesmerized us about the meaning of the extrasomatic cultural stream. This was my introduction to the human unconscious because he spoke of something outside of us that flowed and shaped our lives.

Sigmund Freud

Then came Sigmund Freud who spoke to us about our unconscious. Call it what you will, it is a force which also shapes us and our lives. We tend to think we are in charge of ourselves but when the unconscious is noted we find we often are not in charge and that we sift murky waters. His work was fascinating and important.

Carl Jung

But shortly I was introduced to Carl Jung who spoke about our personalities and the world of myth in ways which were stunning. The three men come together and point out to us that we are constantly trying to manage a world which is rich, constantly changing and, to put it mildly, is challenging. Truth is amplified and shouts uncertainty. It became clear to me how uncertain our inner world is and what magnificent promise it offers.

The World of Fiction

Certainly as we enter the world of fiction as writers we know that creativity is demanded and that we must make a contribution which goes beyond simple story construction and coherence. But often we aren’t prepared for what occurs.

Emergence

Having been fascinated by Jung and by the presence of images of mermaids across the world I thought to construct a book featuring these fascinating women. Little did I know what was lurking. A book became three books and more are threatening to appear. Not only did the story expand but there were characters who became demanding. They expanded their substance and may appear unbidden.

The Lesson

In the end I had to face an obvious lesson formed out of the work of the three men mentioned above. In our minds we are not stable entities and when we open work such as fiction we face the intrusion and wonder of what we harbor and what is rampant around us as stimuli and reality in all its forms, subtleties and substance. When we write we must be prepared for a torrent of inner richness from all kinds of sources. And therein lies substantial creativity and possibilities which can enrich us and our readers. What comes are not just stories but the richness of our lives. The writer discovers the range of influences within and the reader can explore possibilities which go beyond the form of what is contained in the book.

In the end I have had to listen to an important message. Get a grip psychologist! And attend to what these very concepts truly mean.

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