My Mentor Joseph Cambell

josephcampbell-450x450Within the current socio-political circus came the idea to write an article about the Hero’s Journey for the Visionary Fiction Alliance (VFA). Although the topic relates to myths and stories, we can also become heroes in our own journeys. Each completed cycle can be  an avancement in evolutionary growth that  continues until our last breath.  But sometimes we get stuck along the way.

BELLY OF THE WHALE

I stalled during the middle of writing the VFA post because the election led me to an existential crisis.  I found myself stuck in the belly of the whale stage of the Hero’s Journey.  Seeing people fighting each other in order to prop up two flawed humans made me question why many of us still place other humans above us.

“I stopped getting mad at politicians years ago and started getting mad at myself instead. The blame for the grinding dullness and depressing predictability of the current election cycle is on the electorate as much as it is on the candidates. That America gets everything it deserves and settles for is a hard truth to swallow. Maybe one day, we’ll get tired of choking on it.” Henry Rollins

Those of us who pulled out of the political church reach the same conclusion as Rollins. We become ideological atheists because we see that it’s our ideologies that are choking us. We’re the rebels that scream for the empire to topple, so we can live freely with one another. You might not hear us because we’re few in number, so we’re never really heard other than through podcasts or blog posts.   Instead,  we’re called crazy or mentally disturbed because we refuse to capitulate to majority groupthink. We have strength of mind and spirit and are immune to whatever names we’re called. Knowledge of our inner-truth is our shield. We’re  grounded in our spirit. But sometimes even hero’s fall and have to rise up again.

As I listened to the media, politicians, and some of their followers spew hatred and hypocrisy, I thought about the future my daughters would be growing up. I became despondent imagining what today’s children would be inheriting because of our shortsidedness.  That thought awoke a fear in me that I had to deal with.

IN A POSITIVE FREEFALL

How do we stay on the path when we’re facing our version of an empire run by  shadowy Darth Vaders? From beyond the grave, Campbell answered the question.

free_fall

“We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.” 

― Joseph Campbell, Sukhavati

FREEDOM TO LIVE

If hell is being created, I don’t have to play along. I can forge my own path. With that realization I was shot from out of the belly’s spout and on to the Freedom to Live stage of my journey.

Spiritual lessons never end. I find it more difficult now than before I started the journey. The more the veil is lifted, the harder I have to work to evolve. And since I evolved a little bit more with the writing of this post, I guess you can say this is a visionary post!

Please click here to read the article about how the hero’s journey relates to visionary fiction.

Therapeutic Benefits of Visionary Fiction – Recognition – Part 1

Some authors find their focus in their childhood. It’s something they know they’re born to do. Not me. I was a late bloomer—a seed stuck beneath a thick layer of earth. Something kept the water supply from reaching me. For many years, I pondered if there was something wrong with the way my brain functioned. Turns out my brain functions well—albeit a little more hyper than the average brain. I was a stubborn little seed. A seed that refused to take in the sustenance that I needed to grow. I thought I had the strength to pierce through the earth on my own.  (Continue reading at the VFA website)

Motifs: The Harbingers of Transcendence

Motifs are very effective in visionary fiction. For those not familiar with the term as it is used in a literary sense, motifs are either a repeating image, phrase or any other symbol an author uses to convey a message, theme or idea represented in the book. Ideally, it should be organic to the story and not forced.

In my own writing, a story will feel incomplete without at least one strong motif. In books I read, something feels missing when they aren’t included. Two days ago, as I was nearing the end of my final read through of Beyond Omega’s Sunrise, two motifs came to me as I was fleshing out two scenes. The first was a silver charm bracelet with the focus on an angel. The second was a short phrase (not mentioned as it leads to the climax). When I placed it in the story it tied into both the plot and theme of the book. A major breakthrough!

What else makes a book visionary fiction is that the author, moi in this scenario, can transcend alongside the story. The realization of how my book affected my own evolutionary growth happened today. While I was working on a paper for school, feelings of insecurity about my work arose. I phrase it in such a way as I identify these feelings as invaders from the past. I used to be a perfectionist, and I often sabotaged my work because I never felt it was good enough. Through the years, I learned that confidence comes through hard work, uncovering my weaknesses and working on them until they become my strengths, and doing the best I can in my life and work. What helped me accomplish all of the above was mindfulness meditation. It freed me from being a perfectionist; however, on occasion, the “old me” sneaks out and tries to get the best of the new and improved me.

To combat the negativity that infected my mind today, I got up from my desk and went on a three mile walking meditation. It was healing, but it got intense near the end, when I passed the apartment I used to live in. It symbolically represented the old life I’d left behind. I never felt any particular emotion about it until today. I cried…a lot. There were no conscious thoughts behind my spillage of tears other than a strong sense of relief, as if my mind spoke the phrase from my book that perfectly fit this momentous occasion! I experienced both closure and liberation, and I can now officially call Beyond Omega’s Sunrise visionary fiction!

Beyond Omega’s Sunrise will be published April 15th, 2014, in Kindle format. Paperback soon to follow.

Love and light,

Eleni

How Jessie’s Song Awakened the Music Within Me

Those of us who write visionary fiction oftentimes transcend alongside our characters. I’d like to share with you the most recent evolution within my life that I owe to Jessie’s Song. Little did I know that the protagonist’s journey to find himself in jazz would lead me on my own journey to rediscover my love for singing after a long hiatus.

I’d given up singing jazz right after college, convincing myself it wasn’t really what I wanted. The details behind it are enough for a full length book. Perhaps I’ll write it one day. Suffice it to say, several other musical projects followed but nothing captured my heart and soul until I started to chant. As much as I enjoyed doing it, I eventually gave that up as well. I tried to find inspiration again and returned to writing. Jessie’s Songwas born during a high concept screenwriting class I took back in 2007. When I first set out to write the story, it had a very dark theme. Markos Adams, the protagonist, began as Remus Caruso, a hit man. He evolved into a police officer in my second draft. It still didn’t work for me as there was a child molestation backstory that I thought would turn people off. I’m not the type to change a story around for the sake of getting readers, but my instincts told me I needed to change it. Not having the will or energy to continue, I laid it aside and moved on to other projects, then stopped writing all together as I’d lost my inspiration.  Continue reading here.

Bullies and Creativity

This post was inspired by a recent Ground Zero Podcast from January 31st. It focused on transhumanism, a topic that frightens me as we’re mentally and spiritually not ready for this type of advancement. If you’re interested to listen to this podcast, click here.

During the course of the podcast, the host, Clyde Lewis, mentioned how bullies “create creative people by making them introverted.” He pondered over if we were to stop bullying, would that make creative people more rare? I’m not sure about that as not all creative people are or were bullied, but being bullied can certainly draw out your creativity.

INTROVERSION

As an introvert, I personally don’t see introversion as a result of bullying; it’s more of a character trait. We introverts tend to exist more in our heads. I recall when the bullying first started for me. It was mostly over my Greek nationality and that I sucked my  thumb. I didn’t stop until I was twelve! I did this because I existed in my head. My thumb would enter my mouth while I was daydreaming, and I wasn’t aware of what I was consciously doing. So, I was an introvert before the bullying began.

I lost my fluency in Greek as a result of the racism I had to endure. For a time, I was ashamed of being Greek and stopped speaking the language. I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me. The neighborhood kids asked me if I was Catholic or Jewish, as if they were the only two religions in existence. When I responded “Greek Orthodox,” I was made to feel like the Greek Freak they called me.  The bullying was so severe and unrelenting I developed complex PTSD symptoms.  School became my prison from which I couldn’t escape.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like to have a flashback, but a present situation can trigger a past event, and it will literally feel like I’m reliving the experience. I’ll even feel the same emotions I felt on the day the memory was formed. Through the years, I’ve learned to cope with my flashbacks by practicing meditation.  By confronting all my painful experiences, I’ve desensitized myself to many of my hurts, but there are so many; I still have flashbacks. They’re easy to deal with now as I don’t engage with them anymore; I know they’re nothing more than phantoms from the past and have nothing to do with my present life. By practicing mindfulness meditation, I’m able to distinguish them apart from my present-day experiences. When a flashback occurs, I allow myself to feel the feelings associated with the memory, but I don’t attach to the experience.  I bathe myself in white light and forgive the person  imprinted into my brain. It was awareness combined with forgiveness that gave me back control of my life.

THE PATH TO CREATIVITY

I’ve often mentioned to my family how my difficult childhood led to my creativity, which is why I never whine about my past. I even celebrate it because it made me take chances, and I became more resilient.  I developed a strong drive to excel beyond the negative programming of my early years. It’s this drive that got me through one of the best colleges for Jazz at the time, all the way up to my publication of my first novel. In the early years, it had to do with having to prove to everyone that I was more than the Greek Freak I was viewed as, but now it’s more only proving it to myself.

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to to dance better than myself.” Mikhail Baryshnikov

Reflecting  over my life, I’ve had many exciting experiences and lived in different places like in Germany and New Zealand. My life literally became an adventure novel once I dropped out of high school. For me, the social stigma of dropping out was the key to my freedom. I was out of jail, and from that moment, I started to live. I also left with a wealth of inspiration, feelings and experiences to draw upon, both in my music, art and writing. Which leads me to my next point:

Being bullied turned me into an artist. 

  • More times spent alone, I learned to introspect about life and the Universe.
  •  I became sensitive to the hardships in life.
  • I became sensitive to others who are having a difficult time
  • I expressed myself through music and writing to release my loneliness and depression.
  • I learned to appreciate life.

BEING BULLIED CAN LEAD TO COMPASSION

I recall having the opportunity to pick on a girl in high school. I had only to gaze upon her face to connect to her, and I immediately stopped myself. My short career as a bully ended after one comment. Upon reflection, I was able to see how bullies were born, first hand. I decided not to pass the pain to someone else. I also realized the school playground is a microcosm of children who never truly grow up. In fact, I’ve noticed adults are even more cliquish than children. This was a shocking revelation to me. The setting changes, but the pain is still passed along by those who don’t take time to introspect. Is it any wonder the world is a mess?

HOW BULLYING CAN HOLD YOU BACK

I can think of three instances when I was bullied as an adult. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I find adult bullying more harmful in that it can make us give up our dreams if we don’t fight back.

I was preparing a big band chart for my jazz arranging class in my senior year. It was from an original of mine, which will be in my book, Beyond Omega’s Sunrise. I was up for three days straight getting it all down on very large manuscript paper. The lead sheets that I was to give to each player I notated in Encore,music software. The technology was fairly new, and I was eager to play around with it.

After I inputed all the parts into my computer, I played back the music using the midi instruments, and I was pleased with the job I had done. I was eager to show it to my teacher, who had it in his mind that singers had no business arranging music. That was the attitude I was forced to deal with since my first day in his class. (One of the pianists told me he made the comment while I was in the bathroom.) I printed out the lead sheets and presented them to the big band. When they began to play, I thought I was going to faint. I forgot to transpose the horn section! As a cacophony of horrors spilled out from the saxophones, trumpets and trombones, my teacher stood there and had them play through the whole thing. I managed to stay strong and not cry, but that was the most humiliating experience I ever went through. All the hard work I did on my song was never heard because I forgot to push a few buttons on my computer.  I performed the song during my recital, but I was so traumatized, my performance lacked verve because by then, I didn’t want to sing jazz anymore.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t aware that I was bullied. When I recounted the experience to my husband, he brought it up, and I was shocked that I never realized it. Because of my teacher’s negative view on singers, I put a lot of stress on myself to prove him wrong that  it ended up having the same effect.

I gave up jazz after I left school, and now I know it was because I let that one teacher make me forget all the great things that happened to me during my college experience. Soon after that, I started my own original music project. While I enjoyed it, my passion never reawakened to the same degree as it was while I was in college.

FROM SCREENWRITER TO NOVELIST

My next two bouts with a bullies came when I began writing screenplays. I got a scathing review by someone at Triggerstreet who went on to rip apart everything about my work. He told me I didn’t know the first thing about story structure and that I meandered too much. The criticism was harsh in that  the reviewer went on to attack the idea of my story as well.  I completely dismissed all the positive reviews that came before it and decided to give up writing. All this happened while my father-in-law was visiting. When he returned home, he sent me a quote by Jack Welch:

“Control your own destiny or someone else will.”

After I read those words,  I snapped out of my self-pity and became angry with myself for allowing someone else to make me give up my dream of becoming a writer. I then introspected over why one comment affected me so strongly. After some searching, I realized my knowledge of the weaknesses in my writing were pulled  to the surface by the critic. I then had the idea to get rid of those weaknesses, so I’d never be controlled like that again.

I took a screenwriting class with a very good teacher whose classes helped me hone in on story structure, dialogue and subtext. I still use these skills in my novel writing, and I would like to recommend the teacher now, but he’s also bully with some serious coping issues. He didn’t handle stress well at all. When I had a conference call with him, he mentioned he was on the phone all day, and I could hear he was on edge. He eventually snapped over something that he completely misunderstood and took out of context. I remained calm during his tirade against me, and he ended up calming down himself; however, after that conversation, I knew I had outgrown him.  I didn’t give up on writing because I understood what happened had nothing to do with me. And I don’t think he’s a bad person.  I detected a kind heart in him, but he just had trouble coping.  In the end, it was his bullying that eventually led to my writing novels.  I thank him for that.

BULLIES CAN CREATE RESILIENT PEOPLE

We can either allow bullies to defeat us, as my experience with my college professor. Contrarily, we can use them to catapult ourselves forward, like my screenwriting teacher who gave me a taste of Hollywood. I didn’t want all that stress, so I started writing novels. And I should add here there is a lot of stress involved with being an indie author, but that’s a different topic, which I may write about in the future. Regardless, I see it as positive stress in that it leads to personal satisfaction and growth. If a screenwriting gig comes out from my novels, that would be great. However, I’m not that desperate to tolerate abuse over it and will only work with people who are more in control over their emotions!

My teacher’s bullying forced a positive reaction out of me.

I could either give up, or push forward, and that’s what I did. To be a successful writer—and I don’t mean by making money or having fame. I define success by accomplishment, by bringing to life a piece of art, any art, that gives you the feeling that you’ve climbed the tallest mountain. There is no feeling on the world like this, and it makes me want to continue writing and exploring my artistic abilities.

This is my personal recipe for writing success:

  • Learn the craft of writing  through school, books, or a combination of both.
  • Hone in on your weaknesses and make them your strengths.
  • Read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction
  • Be as non-judgemental as you can in life.  It not only makes you more compassionate, but it also allows you to observe the mechanics of behavior in people. This will help you create the most realistic characters and situations.
  • Appreciate being by yourself so you can tap into your inspiration.
  • Don’t work out of the need of having to prove something to anyone else but yourself.
  • Write the best story that you can, irrespective of what you feel others will think about it.
  • Champion your work and honor your accomplishments. Writing a novel is difficult. The fact that you did it demonstrates a strong will. That is definitely something worthy of honor.

By doing all the above, after I typed the words the end in Unison, I knew I wrote a book that’s worthy of being read. I never felt that way before with anything else I wrote.  With my first book, I was tethered to my desk in the attic. I didn’t enjoy the writing process at all. I always had this dark cloud looming over me, and after I finished writing, I told myself I’d never write another book again.  Flash forward to today, and I love writing.

Celebrate your talent, and never let anyone else hold you back from it.

Love and light,

Eleni

Synchronicity in Writing and the Great Hen Escapade

I was working on a scene about how our silence keeps us prisoner, and as this is my final edit before publication, I scrutinized a passage and concluded my protagonist, Damon, came off a bit preachy. By grounding his dialogue to his own experiences, the scene packed a more powerful punch. As I don’t want to give the plot away, I’ll only mention that I use a dungeon symbolically throughout the book as a metaphor.  The context related to how some people voluntarily imprison themselves by handing over the key to their oppressors. The key symbolizes fear and how oppressors are given permission to draw it out of their victims as a method of control.

Fast-forward to lunchtime. I went downstairs to eat, and my daughters excitedly told me the hens escaped from the coop. My landlord keeps ten hens for eggs, and the girls have grown fond of them. Apparently, the hens figured out how to open the gate and liberated themselves. With the help of my husband, my daughters proceeded to chased the hens until they were able to lead them back to the coop. During the whole debacle, the cleverest of the hens, managed to make her escape. I cheered when I heard about it.

Being a writer, the slapstick scene played in my head. Imagining my girls running after hens made me laugh, and I wondered why my husband didn’t get out my Iflip and film this screwball moment. As my eldest daughter recounted the event,  my attention went outside, where lo and behold,  a hen was flying outside of the cage.

My husband and youngest daughter ran out to lead her back inside. Meanwhile, I expressed to my eldest how if it were me who saw the hens escape, I probably would’ve turned a blind eye and let them on their way. Much as I don’t judge people for caging hens, I don’t judge a hen’s decision to escape from her prison. If I sound like I’m personifying the situation, that could very well be true. I recently completed my first draft of Forever Valley, in which a hen is one of the main characters. I know what happened will eventually end up in my book.

Coincidence or   synchronicity ushered into my consciousness from the Divine?

I see it as the latter because incidents like this happen too often for me to discount it as mere coincidence.

While the outside chase continued, I recounted to my eldest how the scene I worked on moments before paralleled the hens’ ordeal. My sweet nine-year-old then went on to say, “That’s so weird. It happened at the same time. Just as you were writing about it, we were outside getting the hens back inside.”

“Weird, indeed,” I said as my youngest daughter entered and told me the hen I saw was the one that escaped. They managed to get the hen back in her cage.

I had an eerie feeling as I recounted Damon’s message over how we willingly enslave ourselves by giving the key to our oppressors.  The closing of our real life escapade ended with the hen giving up her own freedom voluntarily.

“She came back because she missed her friends,” my youngest surmised.

She was probably right—that and along with a free meal.  I’ve come to see hens as very social and affectionate. Here, in Hawaii, we have ferrel hens, and the escaped hen would’ve been all right on the outside, but she decided to return to the place where she was most familiar. This was another aspect of the scene I was focusing on; some of us become imprisoned by the comfort of familiarity and security. Of course, that’s not necessarily bad; however, with the wrong person, religion or political ideology it most certainly can be viewed as a weakness and used against us. In the case of the hen, one of her friends ended up on someone’s plate during a Thanksgiving dinner. I leave it up to you to decide whether or not the hen should’ve stayed away.

When synchronous moments in writing happen to me, I ruminate over what I’m supposed to take from the experience.

Did what happen justify or challenge an opinion I hold  dear to me?

 Did it lead me to accept there are some aspects of the human condition that still have a long way to go before evolving…and the changes that will move us forward will happen long after I die?

That last one is the most difficult for me to ponder over, and I’m glad I have my writing to help me express my frustrations. Writing visionary fiction helps me view stories through a holistic and positive lens. In the process of healing my ideal version of the world, I heal myself.

From Vision to Story

As of today, I’ve arrived at the last chapter of my proof. While I was teaching my daughter about cell division,  it led me to  pose a question during my meditation. Soon afterwards, I received an intense vision. It ended up in Unison, and it further clarified an expositional scene that is tantamount to the series as a whole.

Writing this book has been a long and winding road, where many times I thought I was going to go off course. Nevertheless,  all things happen for a reason. I had to go through all these read-throughs, so I could write a scene that makes my story stronger. Writing a book has been compared to running in a marathon. That’s a fairly accurate comparison!

Choreographing A Scene

I had a very creative week. As with many of my story breakthroughs, it happened at the gym, while running on the treadmill. I knew when I posed my story question, by the time my workout was over, I’d have my answer, but not necessarily to the question I asked. When it comes to tapping into the right brain, scenes typically appear out of order. I view the first draft as a puzzle, except I have no idea how many pieces exist until after I write, “The End.”

I put on the dance music playlist on my Ipod, started running, and asked my right brain to  show me a strong climax for Forever Valley.  I’ve done this several times before but was shown answers to different parts of my story; however, several days ago, I got what I asked for.  When I left the gym, I ran to my car, got out a pen from the glove box and wrote out the climax, which also included the completion of the character arcs. Now that’s a productive run!

The three questions I ask before I begin the scene choreography:

What characters are in the scene?

Where are they?

What’s the scene goal?

To get the best possible scene, I have to envision it first. I do this by running through it in pictures.  There can be no trace of language for this to work. It’s like watching a silent movie, and I formulate no opinions or judgements during the transmission. That’s left brain banter, and it’s a big no no when engaged in right brain work. I continue observing until something pops out at me. Once that happens, I begin to analyze the scene, interpreting what and why it’s happening.

What do the characters say?

How do they react?

I continue the analysis until the language syncs with the visuals.  This works so well, I never fear writer’s block or running out of ideas. With a strong visual, it’s hard not to come up with a strong scene.  The difficulty—for me, at least—is finding the most accurate words to describe it. That takes a lot more effort from me than scene creation.

For anyone interested, here is my method of tapping into the right brain.

  • Find a place or situation where you can disappear into your story world.    Working out, running, walking, taking a bath and lying down listening to music are some ways I connect to my right brain.
  • Pose the three questions, but do it without expecting answer to the questions you asked. Expectations are like a roadblock to the right brain.  Get rid of them, and you’re right brain will throw out some amazing ideas for other scenes in  your story.
  • Place your characters in the proper setting and watch them react, without any hint of language or judgements. There is no such thing as a stupid idea in this exercise.  Unlike real life, stupid oftentimes leads to brilliance in the right brain. Just keep watching stupid until it evolves into a brilliant scene. Being able to tap into the right brain at will makes writing entertaining and fast. Please let me know if this works for you. I always love to hear successful writer stories.

Love and light,

Eleni

Transcendent Experiences That Inspire The Sci-Fi Author

This blog was inspired by Dr. Jeff Kripal’s podcast interview on Skeptico discussing his book “Mutants and Mystics” which I’ve ordered and am looking forward to reading. The book is about how authors use their own paranormal experiences to write their stories. I was immediately intrigued as that’s what I do, although I don’t refer to my kundalini awakening as paranormal.  The very meaning of normal is a subjective interpretation of reality, and  my experiences are as natural to me as waking up in the morning.

Ever since I was a child, I was transfixed by science fiction. From Captain Kirk on Star Trek to Ripley on Alien, I was awed by the limitless possibilities of the imagination. Anything could and did happen in these stories, and since I had a sad childhood, these stories helped me forget about my own life for a while. One step into the time doorway in Land Of the Lost, and I was in their world.

The signs of being a writer were always there, but it took all my experiences to feel worthy of writing science fiction.  Since my spirituality drives my fiction, I thought it would be interesting to draw parallels in my writing to what I heard on the program.

The titles in bold were the key points of the podcast that I relate to as a writer of science fiction and speculative fiction.

 

Humility Versus Certainty

The host discussed humility versus certainty when it came to how one deals with what’s beyond our current level of understanding, and I thought it was a great way of explaining my own motivation in writing.  I was brought up Greek Orthodox, and there was a level of certainty I had towards my faith. That was all gone after my kundalini awakening and not because I was shattered or depressed. The further I tried to understand what happened to me, the more I realized I could never know anything for certain and that made me more humble.

In Unison, the protagonist, Damon1300-333-1M, is a scientist, and he begins his journey as a materialist. His position makes him shortsighted regarding his invention of a technology that ends up enslaving his people. When things start to move beyond his world view, everything he believes in is brought into question, and he has a difficult time adjusting. The movement from certainty to humility is depicted in Damon’s inner journey, mirroring my own interior struggles.

With my newly developed humility, I became less self-centered, and I had a strong desire to help people. I wanted to reveal how my spiritual evolution led to a happy life. I could’ve written self-help books, but that wasn’t my style. I didn’t want to make the message about myself.  Writing under the umbrella of visionary fiction flowed into my writing organically and without any pretense or proselytizing. As an author, my intention is to transmit positive energy through my writing, and I would find it rewarding, and more humbling if my stories  open hearts and minds in addition to being entertaining.

Humanism Versus Mysticism

During my kundalini awakening I was plugged into something larger than myself, but I never viewed it as above, outside or beyond human potentiality. Because we’ve collectively accepted the paradigm of materialism, anything outside the scope of this understanding is labelled paranormal. As I’ve mentioned in the opening, I find my experiences normal, and within the realm of human potential. What my experience showed me was that all of creation is part and parcel of the life force that created it.  I also see it as a natural process as opposed to supernatural.  So in my stories, the characters all have their chance to transcend, but what they transcend to is never referred to as magical or mystical; it’s part of a natural order.

Writing  To Understand

Dr. Jeff Kripal mentioned that Phillip K. Dick wrote to understand his experiences. I write for the same reason.  I’ve written journals and a few blogs in the past that helped me come to terms with my experience; however a complete understanding is impossible. Socrates understood absolute knowledge is elusive. I’ve reached a similar point in my journey, so I’m not a seeker anymore. This all leads back to how I can never be certain of anything. The only thing I do try to understand is how to tailor my new paradigm into a world that appears so vastly alien to me. At times, I feel like an alien in this world because I can’t talk candidly about my experiences with people. Damon goes through similar challenges along his journey as he tries to find his own place in a world he thought he understood. Writing science fiction helps me reveal my spiritual evolution that I would otherwise keep to myself.

Culture Dictates Experiences

My kundalini awakening wasn’t part of my culture, although there is a Greek mystic sect known as Hesychasm where the monks sought out the “uncreated light,” This was shocking when I had first heard about it as it sounded a lot like kundalini.  I haven’t heard about Hesychasm until a few years after my awakening.

I can’t prove my visions are divinely inspired anymore than I can prove that some undisclosed technology is producing them in my brain. Being unable to state what exactly creates my visions is why I don’t define them. It’s safer to observe them as they are, without any judgement. The more I ruminate over them, the more strange reality appears to me. It’s as undefinable as my visions. This is another aspect that’s humbled me.

“There is no such thing as truth. The only thing that is actually there is your logically ascertained premise, which you call truth.” U.G. Krishnamurti

…Which is why science fiction is the cultural vehicle in which I express my spirituality.

Freedom To Say What I Want

I found that no matter how delicate I present my position, if it counters something a person is passionate about, they get offended…even when it wasn’t my attention to offend. As I’m not a mind reader, I have no way of knowing how deeply someone feels about their position, so I’d rather not risk hurting feelings.  This goes back to my feeling like an alien because I can’t speak freely with people.  Science Fiction is the only way I can say what I want. However, it’s important to mention that even in fiction there’s a fine line between preaching and remaining true to the story. How I avoid preaching is I make sure the character speaks through his or her personality and not my own.

As I don’t live in a world of certainty, it’s easy for me not to be preachy in my stories. The only time I’ve slipped is when I wrote while being angry.  Since then, I avoid writing when I’m over emotional. To get the best story out of me, I need to be detached from myself and fully engaged in the story world. Some of my characters may be preachy, but that’s to demonstrate their particular character flaws rather than to convince the reader of some personal ideology, of which I have none.  Unless you consider not having an ideology as an ideology. It’s a vicious cycle!

Relating experiences through characters

If I try to explain my kundalini awakening to people, either I’m viewed as crazy, or I’m asked what kind of drugs I was on. However, if it’s happening to a character, people are more apt to accept it, so I nestle my visions and experiences into my fiction.

Future is creating the past

I’ve had many occasions of feeling like I’ve already lived through particular events. This was the basis of Unison in that time is not linear but happens in a constant loop.

Do we author the world or does the world author us?

My ideas never come on a conscious level, so I definitely feel authored. This has been a humbling admission for me. Since  accepting this, my work has become more authentic. It’s almost like my stories are tailor-made for me. I’m right-brain oriented, so writing a first draft is very visually intense. I capture different pictures of my story, and they come to me in no particular order. Eventually, they make sense. For instance, in Sunrise, I envisioned a green flame flickering in a cave. I had no idea what it meant when I saw it, but I wrote it into the scene knowing it would eventually make sense when I got all the pieces, and it eventually did.

I’m in the middle of outlining my next book, On the Farm. I’ve already got a few images  and designed the book cover.  Working on the cover gave me a lot more visuals for the story. It was so effective,  I’ve decided to include book cover design during the development phase of my stories.  Visuals tell the story, and words interpret what I see.

Near the closing of the show Dr. Jeff Kripal claimed the culture is writing us.  I close with asking who or what is writing the culture?  There’s definitely another loop here which further demonstrates how limiting our understanding is. I have my theories, but I’ll save them for another book.

Lessons Learned By A Writer With A Short Attention Span

As of June 21, 2012 I completed my first draft of Sunrise, nine days short of my goal. As I reach another milestone in my writing career, I’d like to dedicate this post to everyone who suffers from PTSD and ADHD. The latter I see as a positive because the hyper-focus characteristic that comes with it enables me to finish large projects quickly. I can’t see anything that produces such positive results as being negative.  However, the former can be crippling for me. I only recently discovered that these old feelings and emotions that crop up and get tangled up in present events  are flashbacks. Through the years I’ve dealt with them successfully through mindfulness meditation, chanting and  remaining steadfast on my spiritual journey. It keeps me grounded in the moment and allows me to maintain a focus I’ve never experienced before.  I  accept the events that led to my condition will forever be a part of me, and this acceptance helps with my healing and forgiveness of those who’ve imprinted themselves into my psyche. It’s only through forgiveness that I’ve been able to progress to a place where I love and appreciate the life I’m living.

As a side note, Harmony, a technology used in my novel, Unison, eliminates traumatic emotional memories from the past. The protagonist’s conclusion as to whether or not that’s a good thing is answered in the book and also mirrors my own conclusions.

Now…on to the writing stuff!

THOUGHTS UPON COMPLETION OF WRITING, SUNRISE

Discomfort leads to growth

I always remember that when I decide to take the road most traveled, which for me would’ve been to have an unnamed narrator in the omniscient voice. However, it’s my named narrator that strings the whole story together and brings it to a satisfactory resolution. I focus on that whenever I think about going into the book and taking out all the references that identify the narrator. All in all, Sunrise  has grown on me because of a strong likable cast of characters that came alive because of the specific narrator and her personal views towards them.  Another unexpected surprise for me was that I found that writing in this voice is not unlike first person—except for the fact the voice doing the narrating  isn’t directly involved in the story. I like the level of mystique this adds to the story.

A question I asked myself at the start of this book was:

Could I write a fulfilling story with twelve characters and complete all their arcs in an emotionally satisfying way without writing thousands of pages?

Answer: Yes, and using omniscient narration helped me achieve this in under 80,000 words. After my next edit, which I scheduled in for September, I’m fairly certain the number count will go up a bit. With Unison, it moved up over 25,000 words! I’m fairly certain that won’t be the case with Sunrise as I’ve been editing as I go along, and I don’t forsee many holes that need plugging. As I’m free until July 1st, I’m going to continue to clean up the last remaining chapters.  When I come back to this book, I’ll have an easier time because of the following techniques I’ve improved upon.

Editing as I go along –  In July I’ll begin my edit on Jessie’s Song, and I dread all my visits to Autocrit to see how many times I overused it, that or was. Not to mention all those duplicate words that I failed to notice because I was more interested in getting the story down! It’s emotionally daunting—and draining just thinking about it. With Sunrise it will be a smoother—and faster edit.

Don’t start typing until I picture the complete scene – Before each chapter, I lie down and listen to music or go for a walk to visualize the scene. When I’m away from home, I carry a digital recorder, so I don’t lose an idea.

Channeling a character – This one is a first for me. I channel the characters and have discovered that it’s a great method to reveal character motivations.  After I played it back, I was surprised how my voice changed to mimic the character! I’ve saved them as MP3s and will make them available on this site after Sunrise is released. All these techniques shortened my writing session which is important to someone like me as I have a short attention span.

Run through as many setting and scene alternatives until one screams out “Write me! Write me now!” As I run through the scene, I keep at it, coming up with as many scenarios as possible. When I get to the one that makes me jump up from where I’m sitting and run to my computer, I know I’ve found the right scene, setting or idea.  I won’t write anything down until I get that aha feeling.

Add editing-type columns in my outline – This was another big one for me. I outline my chapters using outline software.  I color code all the different threads, and this helps ensure I have an even balance between them. As I work out of order, I have to take notes to remind myself of what chapters I edited. Making things more complicated is I do different kinds of edits.  I first use WhiteSmoke for grammar checks.  I then run my chapters through Autocrit for redundancies and overused words. Although they help a lot, software can’t replace a personal understanding of grammar, but it does help speed up the editing process. After my first clean-up, I do a Kindle read through using speech to text for flow and tempo.

To keep track of the above, I made four check box columns in my chapter outline. Each time I complete an edit, I check the appropriate box. Kindle gets an extra column because the first read through is of the first draft only. I do another read through after I edit and will sometimes go through a third time if necessary. With Unison I had to do four because of the complex timeline involved. I highly recommend Omni Outliner, which I started using only just recently. Wish I got this one sooner.

Change the sex of the narrator – This works great for distance, especially for a first person narration. Unison is in first person male, so when I did the final read through, I switched it to female and that gave me some additional distance.

Writing has become a lot of fun for me because of the creative ways I find my stories. These methods work especially well for ADHD-type personalities.  I hope some of these tips can be applied to your situation.

I’ll be releasing an Ebook on my writing, editing and producing Sunrise after it’s published. I’ll also include some additional spoilers along with concerns I had with several of the themes I used in this story

Love and light,

Eleni