Writers Must Read

This week I have been implementing the changes I mentioned last week. For one, I have re-instituted Morning Pages into my life.  Morning Pages, also known as stream-of-consciousness writing, or freewriting, (or brain-dump) is the process of writing off the top of your head for a pre-determined span of time, usually 20 minutes or so.  It is enormously helpful as a warm-up to writing, but also as a way to process the mumbo-jumbo in your head so you can focus better throughout the day.

I have also rediscovered the joy of reading.  While I was in school I rarely had time to read for pleasure and I relied on the likes of  YouTube and Hulu instead. But a few days ago I read the novel Kill Your Darlings by Max Allan Collins in two days, and checked out the following:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Toxicology by Jessica Hagedorn, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.

Just as looking at art is wonderful inspiration for painting, reading wonderful works of fiction (high brown and low brow) definitely inspires me to write.  Check out my other blog in the upcoming weeks for pieces of flash fiction (short stories of about 300 words): Raven Burnes.

I look forward to a week of creating.  Speaking of which, I finally finished my painting for Eostara.

Eostara

Eostara

 

Until next time, peace and blessings on the path towards your most authentic self.

Love and Light,

Raven

Spring – The Perfect Time For Change

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” –Winston Churchill

I have often been made to feel guilty about the changes I’ve made in my life.  The typical path for most people is to do something and stick with it, no matter how boring or life-draining, or irrelevant to one’s ultimate goals.

But, for better or worse I’ve always allowed myself to try things, to explore things that interest me.  But, despite having tried and enjoyed many things, reading and writing have always been my lifelong companions.  Reading allows me to jump into different worlds, to learn about famous people, to develop new hobbies, etc.  Writing allows me to express my deepest longings.

Art, although it has come to me later in life, is also about expressing inner self and communicating emotions, first to myself and then to others.

I’ve decided to pursue my writing in a more formal and dedicated fashion.  Having this blog has been a wonderful experience and I plan to continue for as long as feasible.  But, as I grow and evolve, so will this blog.

I hope you all will stay tuned for all the exciting changes to come.

Until next time, peace and blessings on the path towards your most authentic self.

Love and Light,

Raven

work in progress

work in progress

Writing and Research

This week has been all about getting stuff done.  Somehow, someway, I completed 2 short stories and a play in the last few weeks.  I still have a screenplay to finish, and some other random assignments, but I couldn’t be happier over what I’ve accomplished so far!

What I am learning, especially, is the importance of research.  There are a lot of things I want to write about that I have no direct experience with.  I do most of my research on the internet.  However, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to actually listen to people talk and ask them questions about their lives.  If you get in the habit of doing that, you can create characters that really feel authentic.  I just posed some interview questions to a friend today and can’t wait to get the responses back.  I am so excited to see what I learn!

People are infinitely fascinating.  If you tend to get bored with people easily, it may be because you are only skimming the surface layers of life.  Once you peel back those layers, ask the right questions – and listen – it is amazing how interesting people really are.

As far as my art goes, I put the final touches on my Samhain painting and finished a watercolor from last week.  If each day were 48 hours instead of 24, perhaps I could get a ton of writing and a ton of painting done.  But as it stands, each week tends to focus on one or the other!

Have a wonderful week of peace and beauty. And always, always, follow your bliss…

Managing One’s Spiritual Vibration During The Creative Process

This week has been a whirlwind of creativity for me.  I’ve finished the first draft of my play and of my (not-so) short story.   My short story exceeds the 4000 word maximum by a lot.  Even after editing, I’m still at over 6600.  I’ve got some extensive editing ahead of me.  But, as challenging as the whole process is, I can’t believe how much my energy soars after spending several hours writing.

The same is true with painting.  On Thursday I spent seven straight hours painting, taking breaks only to go to the bathroom.  Afterwards I felt exhilarated rather than exhausted.  In that time I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t tired, and I barely said anything.  It’s crazy.  Red Bull ain’t got nuthin’ on creativity!

This got me to thinking about energy, which is the source of all life.  Energy is everything.  It is God, it is the devil, it is “the mood” in a room, it is the chemistry between two people.  Energy is everything.  So, why does it increase after several hours of what should be draining work?

To me, the answer is a little deeper than “i’m just interested” in it.  I’m interested in a lot of things, but only creating affects me like this.  My belief is that creating things – fine art, writing, acting, woodwork, sewing, etc. – raises our vibration.  Vibration at the personal level is the speed with which one’s spiritual matter is moving.  The faster it’s moving, the closer we are to the roots of our divinity.  We understand that on a physical level,  atoms in gaseous materials vibrate faster than those in solid matter.  On a spiritual level, the speed of our personal vibration at any given time reflects our closeness to or estrangement from our divine nature.

Certain activities – like creativity, prayer, kindness, service, etc.  bring us closer to our Divine nature and raise our vibration.  Other activities – gossip, back-stabbing, greed, hate, violate our humanity and lower our vibration.  This affects us on a physical and psychological as well as on a spiritual level.  In other words, the vibrational level of one’s activities must match one’s personal vibration, otherwise one will tend to self-destruct.

For instance, if someone engages in very low-vibrational thoughts and activities but at the same time attempts very high-vibrational activities such as extended meditation, or extensive creativity in music, art, etc., there will be a severe clash in energies.  The person, in order to relieve their discomfort, may turn to drugs or excessive alcohol or sexual drama in order to cope with the excessive energy.  In other words, it’s like flowing 3500 watts of electrical energy through a system that can only tolerate 500 watts.  Unless a change is made the person will burn out on drugs and alcohol, seem increasingly crazy, or live a shortened life.

So when we feel our levels of creativity peaking, it is important to adapt to the higher energy level.  We must be more diligent in associating with people on the same path.  We must eat foods that will replenish, rather than deplete our energy.  We must allow our bodies to get the exercise they need in order to process the extra energy.  All of this is done in order to preserve the creative life and keep the channels flowing.

For those readers who are unfamiliar with this way of thinking, I would invite you to investigate it and experiment with these concepts before dismissing them out of hand. For those who already know what I’m talking about, I hope this is a reminder  to remain diligent about such matters and respect the creative process.

May this week bring you the blessing of creativity and the responsibility to handle it.  With peace and love I encourage you to follow your bliss.

So mote it be…

Trusting Your Instincts

So, I have spent the entire day cleaning – actually preparing to move.  Now, my dream is to move to Northern California by the end of the year, but I currently don’t have the means to do it.  However, I believe in moving in the direction of what you want, with confidence, and patiently waiting for the answers to show up.

I started this massive project this morning purely  on instinct.  I strongly felt that I should just go ahead and prepare, even though I have no idea how I’m going to pull this off.  This got me to thinking about instincts.

Usually when we talk about instincts, we’re referring to animals – the way they know to fly south for the winter, or prepare nests for their little ones, or how they can smell fear.  However, as humans, we have to be reminded to “trust our instincts.”

On the face of it, why would we doubt them?  You don’t see birds having debates about whether or not they should fly south or who gets to be the leader in their little arrow shaped formation – they just do it, and it works out.  But our human minds often over-think things.  Somewhere in our guts, we know what’s good for us but we do other things instead.  We ask advice from people who have agendas, or we reject advice from people who are wise, or we read and read and read up on a subject, conducting “research” but really trying to drown out the little voice within.

Why are we so suspicious of this little voice, or our instincts, or whatever we choose to call it?  I can only speak for myself, but it’s often the fear of being wrong, or looking foolish. And why is that a problem?  Because our egos convince us that if we are wrong, or look like fools in front of others, that something disastrous is going to happen.  Out of nowhere a spotlight will shine on us, blinding us temporarily, as the entire world points and laughs in our direction – 2 million people tweet about our failure, talk shows  open with the topic of “Why (insert your name here) is an idiot”.

Now, we know that this is ludicrous, but the ego is not rational; it just wants obedience by any means necessary.  But if you ignore the ego and listen to your instincts, and it doesn’t work out, blood will not run in the streets.  No one (at least no decent person) is going to ridicule you.  And if anyone does ridicule you, that is a clear sign that that person needs to be quietly moved over to the shit list and their access to you needs to be ended or limited.  Mistakes are our tuition.  If we are advanced students, one mistake per issue is enough.  If we have more to learn, we may have to retake certain “classes” a few times.  Over the course of many lifetimes we learn what we need to know.

And what we call mistakes are really “first takes”.  No movie director expects to shoot an entire movie in one take;  it takes quite a few to get it right.  Life, being infinitely more complicated and important than a movie, is no different.  But if we try our best to enjoy the journey, even the “first takes” can bring us many rich experiences.  And for writers or artists, all these mistakes are simply material for our work!

So, go forth this week, trusting your instincts, listening to that still small voice within that knows and loves you deeply.  And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow your bliss…

Mabon and Personal Reflections

Happy Mabon – Fall Equinox!  I am almost done with my second painting in the series, honoring Mabon.  It is a time of balance between Dark and Light, with Dark winning as the days get shorter and the nights longer.  Darkness, by the way, is not bad; it simply IS.  It is a time of rest, reflection, and restoration.

My personal reflections have mainly been about finalizing my plans for next year.  My biggest decision has been whether or not to pursue additional schooling (grad school or a second bachelor’s), or to take what I have, which are the basics and fundamentals, and continue to develop them on my own.

Complicating the decision somewhat is the fact that I have rediscovered writing, which I studied years ago while pursuing my first degree in English.   I knew that I would write again someday because the idea kept coming up during my visioning sessions and journaling.  But I wasn’t ready.  I’m not sure what kept me away from it for so long other than extreme burnt out from academic writing during the undergraduate years and, perhaps, insecurity.  But taking 3 writing courses this semester has pretty much changed my life.  My days have taken on an excitement that is hard to describe.  Between writing and painting it is really hard to think about anything else.  Here is a little writing sample from my playwriting class:

[The setup is that we had to write from the perspective of the opposite gender and the character had to be between 55-75 years old, married 3 times, has 2 kids, lives in a trailer park, and has recently been diagnosed with cancer.  The character is feeling like their life is meaningless. He (or she, if the writer is a man) flashes back to a specific summer when they were 13 years old where they made a life-altering decision.  My character’s name is Louis…]

Louis:

 

The boys don’t call much anymore, but they usually remember my damn birthday. No call yet. (takes a drag on his cigarette, then shakes his head). Kids are so ungrateful. Don’t realize how good they got it till it’s too late. (pauses). Till you’re on death’s door. Washed-up.  A big nothin’. (takes another drag and shakes his head).  I can’t blame ‘em though.  I was the same way.  Cared about nobody but myself.  All that mattered was fun and there was no tomorrow. Almost six feet tall at 13. Can you believe it? (smiles broadly and stares into space)  Yeah, summer of ’66.  Goddam parents off my back, doing their own thing, sisters off doing God knows what.  Just me, wandering the camp grounds.  Finally feeling free.  God, she was beautiful!  And I was dumb as hell. She was sixteen, but might as well been thirty.  Sassy, trash-talking – the kind of girl that makes you forget things.  She thought I was sixteen too.  Who was I to say something?  What guy would have? Listenin’ to Dylan all day, sneaking smokes and beer at night. Talking and screwing in that old beat up Nova of hers.  Six weeks of heaven.  Summer of ’66! (chuckles softly, then looks sad). I didn’t have a choice, though, did I? Tried to do right by her.  She was everything in the world to me back then. What the hell did I know?  Thirteen.  Fucking thirteen and a father.  Thought mom would never stop screaming. Kept yelling about sin and hell. Said I’d burn in hell for what I done.  I felt like a real pervert after that. Dad thought I was an idiot but didn’t say much. They both assured me I was on a grease-pole to hell and I’d better do the right thing by Jenny.  So they signed the papers.  Somehow I found a job.  Poor Jenny.  She felt like it was all her fault. Kept lying about my age even after she knew the truth.  She thought it was her fault she lost the baby too.  I thought it was mine.  Thirteen-year-old sperm maybe ain’t the best.  Anyway, she lost it and we lost each other.   I went through two more after her but at least I got my boys.  Guess my life ain’t a total waste. I got them boys.  (phone rings and Louis’ face brightens).  Finally! Ungrateful little shits.

 

So now I have to make the decision of whether to invest the time and money in grad school for writing, or perhaps a second bachelor’s in art, or to just live life, find some sort of day job, and continue to work on my craft.  To be honest, the latter sounds more exciting and romantic but I have no way of knowing whether or not is the best career move.  There are few set career paths for artists.  You kind of have to obey your Inner Guide, face down the fear, and just do it.

In the meantime, please enjoy my explorations this week.  As I said, I am almost done with my second Wicca painting, for Mabon, and I included some watercolor sketches/exercises as well.

Have a great week and follow your bliss…