Cusp of Reality Blog

Personal Writing Impediments and Enhancements

Chantia – Our Lead Woman Character

Each of Us As a Writer Has Our Struggles

Writing fiction seems enticing and then we learn the reality of it from issues about the story, how characters develop and the need for promotion and many other things. In this post I’m going to focus on a character in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. But the add on is my own personal contribution and that means what being a psychologist meant for me as a writer. There were definitely pluses and minuses. But it seems they made their own contributions in that some characters showed up demanding a place. Or at least that is how I experienced it.

I’ll Focus on a Woman Named Chantia

She is the central progenitor and had a complex history which was difficult in itself. But there were other problems.

In the story Chantia was the child of a couple devoted to giving health care in the third world. Often that is a difficult environment in which to raise a child. Chantia did not see it that way but was a little mystified when she was sent away to boarding school. Then she went on to college in New York. I constructed that for her because I could imagine her parents would have wanted her to have a broader educational base so she could truly be a person of the world.

But these were not her biological parents. Her biological parents were also devoted to activity in the third world but their true work was intelligence and that meant danger. Long story short, they had to flee under truly dangerous circumstances and left their infant with another couple who Chantia later believed were her true parents. When they died she felt abandoned which was her specific reaction.

My interpretation as a psychologist was that, for personal reasons, she had taken being sent away to school as a rejection and the loss of her parents intensified that feeling.

I think you are beginning to see why my being a psychologist was a complicating factor.

My Interpretations and the Complexity

So then Chantia is shortly thrown into a world where she finds that her biological parents are still alive and they are activists, even the kind who kill people. She wanted her family back but this was definitely not the family she had in mind.

Now the author was running into problems. As a psychologist I could see an intense conflict in Chantia would be almost inevitable. I wanted drama and conflict in the story but this could easily get out of hand.

But it got worse when the opponents of her found family tried to kill her and the man who had become the love of her life. Wait a friggin’ minute. She wanted a family but this was intense. I found that she was becoming a whiner which was not working well in the story at least beyond a certain point. But, at the same time, I simply could not ignore the fact that this was a difficult life. And whining would be a common reaction if not inevitable. In many ways I wanted her situation complicated because the reality is that these kinds of missions can be dangerous and involve all kinds of peril. But whining, in spite of its likelihood was not fitting in well.

My Central Conflict

It wasn’t just the character who had a conflict. I did. I thought her story, as I constructed it In Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power, was interesting and intriguing but just as some characters who showed up demanding inclusion, they also often came with their own internal histories and conflicts which I knew had to be there because of my intuitive personality type and my profession.

And then I started watching the television series Madam Secretary. And there I could see my conflict as a writer. She had a very trying job and they portrayed her as deeply stressed which came very close to whining. And then she had to pull herself together and be the commanding Secretary of State. They did a good job of melding the two themes and her display of her conflict was done artfully even though it came close to whining.

I think most of us who write fiction don’t fully understand what we may be getting ourselves into. And there are conventional wisdoms in the world of writing which may clash with who we are constitutionally and experience wise.

I’ll stop here for now but will come back to these issues with other characters.

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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The Ephemeral Curse of Lyme Disease

Coming to Terms With Reality

Many of us are naive enough to believe that an infection is something which yields an illness of a specific duration. Colds and flus pass through our lives with a fairly specific duration. We understand there are things which are chronic but generally we expect them to come to an end. Such was the case when I receive a visit from Lyme Disease and the spirochetes which cause it.

An Erratic Course of Diverse Symptoms

Diverse symptoms confused the picture. I thought I was getting old. Well, I was but that was not the primary issue. Finally my wife told me I had most of the symptoms suffered by her friends who had Lyme Disease. The blood test I took was negative. Later I learned the blood test is completely unreliable but practitioners were too often relying on it anyway. I never had the bullseye rash and evidently most people don’t. We were told we got it from ticks and now they have decided mosquitos also convey it. Finally I tried a course of antibiotics anyway and suddenly was getting my life back. It was clear I had Lyme Disease and got better. My course was a year without major symptoms and then a year of barely perceptible steady decline.

What I didn’t expect was that I would then suffer a seemingly free year and then a decline again. That pattern repeated again and my denial was finally broken when the fourth episode made it clear to me that I had a chronic disease.

Unfortunate Revelations

I was very disappointed. Over ten years I learned that not only did we have an unreliable blood test but that there was no vaccine for humans. There was a vaccine for dogs but pharmaceutical companies didn’t think it was profitable enough for humans. And while the epidemic infection raged on there was denial in the medical profession.

Endless List off Symptoms

No, there are not consistent symptoms. The spirochetes can attack anywhere in the body with unpredictable durations. My toes curled up and the damage was serious enough to require multiple surgeries. And now that I’m having it fought with a wide range of medications I suffer changing symptoms each day. Yes, there is fatigue, sudden joint swelling, aches and pains, brain fog and on and on. And I’ve learned that the little beasts can adapt so they are resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics. In one course the antibiotic suddenly stopped working. These creatures can put up a shell which protects them. But there is a way to pierce the shell if the physician is knowledgeable about it.

Go online and Google Lyme Disease. It is an eye opening experience.

An Uncertain Future

Quite frankly i feel had and can’t project my outcome. But this should not have happened and the epidemic should have  been contained early on. It is clearly time to improve our health care system and deal with a pharmaceutical industry which needs firm regulation. People are being victimized by out of control costs and poor attention to realistic needs.

It Feels Like An Infestation (Which It Is)

What is distinct about this disease process is that I can feel the reaction and resistance of the spirochetes. It feels like they are fighting back but with a variable arsenal of resistance. We tend to see an invading organism as being somewhat passive and that it can be overwhelmed. But in this instance they are not passive and have a variety of tactics. It is almost like there is an intelligence with an arsenal. And we, as humans, are far behind them. It is like living in a science fiction story.

Recommendations

My recommendations include not assuming the blood test is reliable, if you don’t see the bullseye rash don’t assume you haven’t been infected. Understand that medication may suddenly stop working. Know that symptoms may change very slowly and a return of Lyme may take months before you understand it is back. Understand that there are no typical symptoms and any sudden changes may reflect the disease. Above all, don’t be passive. If you have any hints of infection, study it on line and be vigilant. It is not immediately lethal but can cloak your life in fatigue and serious ongoing consequences. May the force of resistance be with you. And let’s hope our understanding and response improves.

What to do? Seek treatment at once. Study the latest information on line. Be vigilant. Stay with treatment beyond the basic period. Response is still developing so stay on it and continue to seek information.

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

Demands Beyond writing – Promotion and Its Complexity

It’s More than Creative Writing

Did you know writing would be this complicated?

In olden days a writer found an agent and the agent found a publisher. Sure that’s a little simplistic, but it was broad stroke for how it was before self publication. When my wife and I wrote our workbook to help stepchildren adjust to their new family a good friend took it into Doubleday and they published it. They sent us on a national tour including an appearance on the Phil Donahue Show. Those days are gone.

How It Is Now

It seems publishers only talk to agents and agents only talk to—I don’t know who. In short there is no easy way forward to get a book published, publicized and marketed. It seems it is mostly up to the author. Of course there are predators out there who engage authors and charge incredible fees for doing things which are of little use. I won’t go into that mess.

And Then There is the Promotion and Author Help Industry

There are books to help us write books, there are books to help us edit books and on and on. Advice pours forth from multiple sources and it is up to us to sort it and make sense of it. I’ve spent some years now reading sorting and in the end came down to trying it out. Some of the advice turns out to be dated, some spot on. 

The Best Advice

One of the best pieces of advice I read was to be patient. I’ve become quite clear that nothing works right away. It is said that there are 3500 “books” “published” each day. That comes down to a huge crowd and a lot of noise. It takes time to be noticed. The other things I got clear about was that things have to be tried and then we have to adapt.

Having a Thick Skin

Some things we have to listen to are writing related and some general publicity and advertising issues. But there is also reality. When the first of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy was published, the very first review on Amazon gave it one star. It was not to the reader’s taste, she thought the vocabulary was “too big” and she couldn’t write an effective sentence. Got that. And there it sat on the Amazon page all alone as I worked to attract other reviews. Who is going to buy a book with one star? It took some time, then the five star ratings showed up and the total climbed. Phew! The world is not an even, supportive place.

Being Fair With Each Other

One of the things I concluded immediately is that we need to be fair with each other. When I pick up a book and don’t resonate, I have to be honest that the issue may be me and not the book. We don’t all like the same things. I’m not much of a fan of word heavy literature or that’s what I term it. I want that book in my hand to be stirring and along with it my imagination and that essential thing in my life “possibilities” must call out to me. I’ll rate books but won’t rate books that are not to my taste. It wouldn’t be fair or reasonable.

Endurance

I guess in the end what I would say is that we have to endure and stay with our projects. Let’s face it, we like the creative writing process and some people accept it as a hobby and don’t expect to sell much and may not even try to promote it. It seems best if we weigh our goals and accept the complex noisy world in which we live. We learn to improve our writing skills and we have to learn what to expect and to accept endurance is essential.

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

The Origins and Sources of the Majesty Trilogy – Pt. 5

 

Being Moved Beyond Simple Exposition – From Within

Many of us who write fiction do not anticipate where the effort will lead us or what might begin to stir within ourselves. When I began the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I had a story line and then used Dara Marks’ Transformational Arc to organize it and structure it. One perception is that it may then be a matter of filling in the blanks. No such thing.

The story took on enhancements and a life of its own in ways not anticipated. And then there was the matter of insistent characters who showed up for inclusion. In the end I had to concede that the story and the writing process was stirring things inside of me.

Essential Elements

At the beginning, the intention was to write a story about the salvation of our future. Without a doubt we live in a very dangerous time. Perhaps the least of our dangers is how we may ruin our economic future. And then there is our capacity to use nuclear weapons to bring untold destruction. At the same time we are seeing clear evidence of climate change wrought by our presence. Deniers can deny all they want but we have the capacity to damage so much of this planet in ways never before seen. 

Other Discoveries

Even though we have been around our habitat for millions of years, we know so little about it in many ways. We must accept that life is insistent. We have learned about change and now know how adaptable life forms are. Deep in the ocean around warm vents we discovered life forms we assumed could not exist. We now know that asteroids contain water and amino acids which suggests life seeds itself well beyond this planet. How naive we have been!

Being Discoverers

We like to explore and discover more and more about our world. And now we are looking to go to Mars. That planet has been virtually striped of its atmosphere because it has no magnetic field but we seem interested in terraforming. It is likely that we may discover something we had not thought about.

What will happen if we break out of our planet? Are we ready? Are we mature enough as a species to bear the burden which discovery reveals? And who might we meet out there? In Star Trek they insisted that they not interfere in civilizations in other worlds they discovered. Part of that seems to come out of the perception that we may not be that wise. There are stories of invasion and attacks by extraterrestrial beings and we hope they do not come here. That, in some ways, is a projection of our understanding about our frequent lack of maturity.

What Fiction Brings

As I wrote the story, its characters developed. And now as I look at the trilogy I find that a book 4 seems to be demanding my attention. But it remains in the shadows and I will see if it will manifest itself. But one thing became apparent, that the story was leading me toward the theme of transformation. In human history we have seen sudden delineations and development as with language and culture. And then there are things such as the Enlightenment. Is there a transformation in our future?

If we survive this dangerous period, how might we advance. Suddenly we see stunning revelations about widespread molestation and mistreatment of women. The cascade of revelations is such that we cannot turn back from it now. And the uprising of women to overthrow their subjugation is stunning but just beginning. And in writing these books I found that the empowerment of women was essential. I really have to wonder if the empowerment of women is going to lead us to a significant transformation beyond anything we might suspect. We will see won’t we?

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

An Innocent Discoverer – Adelais Dubois

 

Who Shows Up

Unlike many other characters in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy Adelais did not seem to be in the plans of the author. Most of the other Andromeda warrior women had a clear place and presence although who they were had to be clarified and developed. In Adelais’s case she suddenly appeared to this author.

Not All These Women Had Dramatic Histories

Yes, Adelais was from a Primal family, but not every member of such a family was ordained for a purpose or would even become deeply involved either in the Andromeda or other aspects of the mission of the Tethyans. In Adelais’s case she had spent a peaceful childhood in a bucolic setting in Provence, France. She is properly characterized as an innocent and like so many innocents it came to a painful end.

What Propelled Her

She was on her way to university at the Sorbonne in Paris when fate intervened. But, of course, in this trilogy, whether it is fate always has to be questioned. In Paris she stopped to visit her grandmother who was prominent in the environmental/sustainability movement. When her grandmother was brutally murdered in front of her everything changed. She was taken to the Thonis Tethys in the sea off of Alexandria, Egypt to attempt to heal her emotional wounds.

But Then There Is Who We are

The experience led to her coming to terms with her inner spirituality and the need to take action led her to join Andromeda. Of course she got to know the other women and one of them was Nicole with her clear links to the spirit world. This experience was to thrust Adelais into a depth of understanding and involvement she had not anticipated or sought.

Who We Are

Most of us are not truly in touch with who we are deep down. Sometimes we find a side to ourselves which is wholly unexpected. In Adelais’s case she was drawn deeply to an alternative reality and spirituality. Of course, in such a context we have to question how much was simply a cascade of events and how much in some way showed the hand of Gaia. Each of us develops something of a life plan but often it takes turns which are unexpected.

Adelais as an Explorer

Adelais illustrates the fact that we are all explorers in one way or another. Some people seem to go through life on an even course which is an exploration nonetheless but for others there are dramatic turns. Adelais shows how we can rise to the occasion and grasp a wholly new course. It was necessary for her to attend to the need for healing, but, in the end, she healed, found she had not truly lost her grandmother and learned that there may be much more to our world and the future of humankind than we ordinarily believe. There is so much to be explored and Adelais takes one trail of possibility for us to observe and to engage us.

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