By Cynthia Ray
“If you want to write something, you have to be quite sure that the whole of your being wants this kind of expression. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 612-613
This quote made me wonder if my whole being wanted to write, and if so, what it meant to bring ALL of me to the writing process. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that our writing reflects where we are in our journey to become who we really are. The journey isn’t about becoming a writer; it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t you, so that you can write.
For me, writing is a kind of personal alchemy, a seemingly magical process of transformation and creation. I write and discover hidden things about myself, about others and the world. Writing facilitates my mystical journey of discovery and unbecoming.
As Jung points out, if you are called to writing, you can bring nothing less than your whole self; your flesh and blood, your darkness, your crazy, your passion, your joy, hope and despair. Anything less and your writing will die an insipid death, missed by no one, not even yourself. Don’t leave any part of you behind when you sit down to tell your story, especially the parts that come kicking and screaming.
Wholeness brings power into your voice; a power that can touch, change, heal, give hope or stir others to action (or cast them into despair). Think of the most powerful things you have read, and how they changed your life, or view of the world or yourself.
There is no part of you that will not be required. You have to engage your will, your mind, your heart, your body, and your spirit, and at different times, each of these elements will challenge us.
WILL and DESIRE
Desire motivates your will, and will is the force that carries you forward when things get tough (and I mean reallllly tough). When life’s demands crowd out your precious time to write, will finds minutes and hours where there were none. When you have poured yourself into a story, and have to throw it out, will gives you’re the courage to start over. When the writing you love is not “publishable”, will keeps you writing anyway. When you receive the 20th or the 220th rejection letter in your inbox, will gives you a way. Will keeps you going, but will and desire alone are not enough.
Our conscious, analytical mind revels in story structure, character arcs, point of view, correct use of tense and grammar, setting all the pieces in order, and comes up with some great ideas. So called left-brainers probably outline everything in great detail, while right brainers are more apt to be pantsers. We spend a lot of time thinking consciously thinking and planning our stories, and we learn what works for us.
And then, in our daydreams, our meditations, up from another part of our mind, that murky subconscious, arise wonderful creative sparks, unexpected inspiration and all that stuff that scares the pants off of us. But keep going, if you dare. There is an even deeper place in there, where all of us are connected, that we also draw from-what Jung calls the collective subconscious.
The more we embrace and explore our endless depths, the more our characters take on dimension and fullness, and our language and stories become tastier and more satisfying.
Sure, you can have the perfect story arc, precise and beautiful language and fascinating characters in awesome settings, but without the tapestry of feelings, passions, and emotions–without heart–no one cares and our story is a dry husk. We care when we feel connection, and connection emanates from the heart. If we want our stories to beat with the pulse of our readers’ hearts, we have to reveal what it is to be human on the page and close the distance between our words and the reader. Naturally, if we are cut off from our own feelings and emotions, it is unlikely they will show up in our characters.
Energy! You need energy to write, and the best way to energize your body is to get that butt up from the seat and get out and move. It seems counter-intuitive to leave your writing, but take a break and walk, run, garden, or whatever works for you. Take care of yourself and you will have the energy and clarity of focus to put to the demanding task of writing. Research shows that if you don’t get enough exercise, depression sets in, and you won’t feel like writing (or doing anything else for that matter).
Sometimes we are caught up in inspiration, and things flow through us without effort; we swim in the current and spirit of creation. What a great feeling!
Just as tangible as the body, our spirit infuses everything we do. The Hebrew word for soul (Ruach) can also be translated as spirit or breath. You breathe yourself out into the world through your words and stories. It is a gift, a sound or tone, if you will, that is uniquely you. Your voice/sound merges with all the others.
Hazrat Inayat Khan says, “When one bell is rung, by the sound of that one bell others bells will also vibrate . So it is with the dancing of the soul … It produces its reaction, and that again, will make others souls dance.” Our words are the vibrations we put out into the world.
So, my fellow writers and alchemists, I wish you an unraveling and unbecoming of all that is not you. I wish you wholeness, transformation and abundant creative “juice” to overflowing. Write on!