Cusp of Reality Blog

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?

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  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

                                      

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Dreams Versus Reality

 

Your Dreams

Do you dream? Oh no, I’m not talking about those things that crop up at night. I’m talking about the dreams you have for your future, your desires, what might be. How much of a hard edge do they have? Do they involve mysticism? Do they lead you into a spirit world of your own? What do they say about you and your life?

Questioning Reality

I’m a clinical psychologist and have spent a lot of time talking with people about their lives. Often we talked about what we call reality but as the decades passed I came to question the meaning of the word. Do our hopes and dreams fall outside the realm of reality? Of course not.

Fiction Choices

And when you read, what are your choices? Do you gravitate toward apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, romance or simply something which advances a “what if”? Are you engaged by ancient mysteries or are you looking for inspiration in how they may emerge in the here and now.

Relating to Reality

At once I have to say that the title of this blog, Cusp of Reality, reflects my core belief. I do not believe in a fixed reality. Reality is ephemeral and subject to our own interpretations. We live on a cusp and reality is often something which emerges and recedes into a mist. We take up a station of beliefs and surround ourselves with family and friends who reinforce something stable enough to be called reality.

Myth and Mysticism

And then there is what lies out there in the mist of the past. We enjoy myths and may recognize that they may offer prophesy and be visionary. Yet, we may fail to recognize that they can convey a stark and important reality of their own. And myths do not just speak to the past but also may relate to the future as it is emerging and how it may be.

Conclusions

Assuming we live on the cusp of a changing reality, then we have to wonder what we are to do with that reality. Naturally most of us take hold and fix a reality of sorts which works for us. But then there is the matter of the emerging world. That is where speculative fiction and such things as dystopian fiction, science fiction etc. come in. We can explore with them. And my considerations have led me to the writing of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. It asks what ifs and comes out of my life experience. The trilogy relates to stewardship in a world in crisis. Women are central because it is apparent that they are emerging as a much greater force in the world. Certainly women have always been important but they are coming into power and partnership with men in new and important ways. And we have to wonder if there is a transformation of some form in our future.

A Dual Pathway

The possibilities are fascinating in a world which appears to have gone asymptotic in many ways. And so I’ve chosen to explore through this blog and through fiction in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Stay tuned.

Surely, regardless of your age, you have dreams, if not for yourself, then for someone in your life. What are those dreams and who are they for?

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

A Vision to Explore Our Future

 

Soon the second book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy,  Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise will be published. In these books we will trace a story of what might be crises coming on our lovely planet. The mythological underpinnings are woven together with the theme of the rising of women to power and partnership. The women in this story are called Tethyans and they are central to the future of humankind and our beautiful blue planet.

Let me tell you a story. 

The universe is a wondrous place steeped in mystery, creation and destruction. Among its creations was a small solar system. There was little to stand out, but one of the planets was especially fertile. There came to be an abundance of life. It was ruled by a goddess called Gaia. One of the things which made the planet called Earth so special was that there was not just a ruling goddess but the goddess was the planet itself.

Under Gaia’s Care

Gaia tended her planet lovingly but it was clear that inherent in the creation and development of life forms struggle for survival and development was required. Long ago Gaia noted the development of a life form which was especially clever. She thought these beings held special promise but also recognized they might be a threat to themselves and her planet—herself.

Ensuring a Future

 
These beings were called humankind. Their promise was such that Gaia thought to ensure their future. But not in the sense that she definitively ruled their lives. They were to struggle like all the other animals, but in case of failure she designed a restart plan.

Since women had the richest genetic heritage and bore the children, she chose to reserve a population of mostly women, and, for their safety, designed protected cities in the sea where these people called Tethyans lived. If the land population failed, these women could return to the land.

The Day Defined

Gaia was, indeed wise. The day she foresaw has arrived and humankind is threatened by social and environmental cataclysms.

………………………

Devastation?

The story above contains mythological elements but the threat of social and environmental cataclysm is real. Not long ago hope flourished on Earth, but, as is so often the case, human affairs lead us back to worldwide conflict. There appears to be considerable potential for another era of devastating conflict such as occurred in the twentieth century.

Myth Bearing Truth

In myth there is often considerable truth, especially about the nature of humankind, our promise and our failures. Some elements are especially intriguing. In most cultures, where there is considerable water, there are myths about creatures referred to as mermaids. It is almost a universal phenomenon. The mermaids are women, of course, although mermen make rare appearances. These women may be engaging in a romantic and sexual way but they may also be frighteningly dangerous and destructive. It seems the myth relates to a deeply rooted, unconscious regard and fear for women by men—ambivalence which has led to conflict and subjugation.

Enter the Rise of Women

The myth stirs the imagination and just at the moment as the world moves closer and closer to devastating crises, we see the movement to empower women. The “myth” of the mermaid, combined with the movement to empower women led to the embrace of a story which was irresistible.

Exploration of Themes

In coming posts there will be thought documents on the themes in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy and discussion of the characters and the development of the story as well as the writing process. Through these kinds of stories we seek vision to aid us in approaching our future.

Given our recent history, how do you view our future?

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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For the Holidays

 

The holidays are here which means there are different demands on our time and our commitments. Accordingly I’m going to attenuate my posts for this season.

In a sense we can take a breather which we will need before we enter a demanding 2019.

I will resume my normal schedule in January with some new foci and directions and my newsletter in regard to my Gaia’s Majesty project will begin on a regular basis.

Have a happy holidays. Take some deep breaths and time for comfort.

Peace.

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