Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Subconscious and the Writer's Thought Process

One of my followers on this Blog, Pat Petrovich, e-mailed me the other day after I mentioned to her that I had a dream and a new story came fully blown into my consciousness. She was amazed that it could happen that way. But it does, that's exactly how it happened.

I began to write her a long post and then realized that it probably should be on this Blog. So here it is.

Dreams, according to psychologists, are windows into the subconscious. They study dreams to find out what kinds of things we are thinking and feeling. Nearly every really good idea I've had for a story has begun with a dream. Those that have not started that way soon become involved in my dreaming life as I work out the details of the story.

Writer's will often express the fact that when they are into their story good, they will experience a feeling of "not writing" but "channelling" the story, as if it's coming from somewhere else. It flows down from the mind through the hands and onto the keyboard or paper. Sometimes they claim that they don't know where it came from. Other times they get the feeling that they didn't write it at all, but someone else using them as a conduit wrote through them. What they've done without realizing it is tapped into that Sub-conscious mind while they were awake and allowed their subconscious to write the story for a time. It's still coming from them, it just doesn't feel that way.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that writing and dreaming are intimately connected. Again it's one of those things that takes practice. The more you practice accessing those dreams, recalling dreams and tapping into that so very creative source, the better you will get.

One of the tools I use is from Julia Cameron's book called "The Artist's Way." In that book she talks about doing "morning pages" where you write in a notebook, always long hand, and you must write at least three pages every morning immediately upon awakening. I usually try to do it within one hour of getting out of bed. And what you write is total uncensored nonsense. Doesn't matter what it is. For the first few years of my doing this I wrote mostly things like, "OK, here I am, I'm awake, I'm in the kitchen, sipping on coffee, man there are a lot of dirty dishes I had to move the big pot out of the way in order to make coffee this morning, holy hell, I get tired of doing dishes, oh well, that's my life, shutting drawers and doors behind people and picking up after them. Maybe I should go on strike. Anyway, NO BIGGY, so I'll just put it on the list of stuff to do today and while I'm at it, I also need to mail the bills and throw in some laundry and then I can . . ." from there it turned into a PODA list. (Parade Of Daily Activities.)

Now I have learned that the list stuff is always in my mind and I can skip over it to get to the good stuff. So Now when I start my morning pages I start with headers and I never ((((NEVER)))) use the words "No Biggy" in my morning pages any more. I hated using that phrase, if it really was not a biggy then why was it occupying so much space in my head?

Now I start usually with the heading "Dream:" Then go on to state, "Woke up thinking about:" And try very hard to capture those early morning ideas which have proven to be so valuable to me. I like waking up naturally because REM sleep is usually the strongest just before waking, but I have also had good results with being awakened abruptly by a noise in the house (not an alarm) and then been able to relax back into the dream state.

Now, I have very far fetched and unsupported ideas about how the subconscious mind in humans may or may not be related to the supernatural. Freud put forward the theory that there is an Id, or a higher self involved as well as the "lower self" of the subconscious. I admit that I have not studied psychology past the rudimentary levels, but I think that the Id as described in that field is more like the idea of the perfect self. Each of us have in our minds attributes that we assign to ourselves whether we live them or not. We have our perfect self inside our mind and we only just try to live up to it, or we get into a downward spiral and decide not to live up to it at all. That's the Id. That has nothing to do with that I'm talking about.

I see the subconscious as more of a go-between and buffer for alternative dimensions and states of consciousness.

Many years ago, a very wise woman suggested to me that when we dream we go to the place where our spirits go after our bodies die. In the state we call sleep, our spirits and minds are free to travel to those places and encounter people and other beings that dwell in those places. If you've ever startled yourself awake after a nightmare, this woman claimed, it was really your spirit getting scared and quickly slamming itself back inside your body.

Science has fairly evenly proven that there are other dimensions that co-exist possibly side by side with our own. I believe that the higher power, that being that I like to call God, has mastery over traversing all the various dimensions, coming and going as SHE pleases. We as humans are only made in HIS image. We are not gods, we only have a small portion of the substance that is God in us, and that is our soul. Each of us that has a soul is part of God and SHE us. God is the Macrocosm, we the Microcosm. As such we have lesser abilities to maneuver but we still can. We must live for a time in this physical world and as such must do what we can to perform in it, learn all we can learn about survival and love and taking care of each other and sharing what we have with others, both in physical goods and in knowledge and skills. But ultimately we will all travel to other dimensions, other levels of being where we undoubtedly keep learning and growing.

But while we are forced to exist in this physical plane of existence we have the appearance of being cut off from the rest of existence, the world, other people, and God. Some of us learn that this is not true at all, but those who don't begin to feel utterly alone. Nothing could ever be further from the truth.

This is one of the life lessons that we are put on the physical plane to experience, and the subconscious mind is the buffer zone between our waking physical state and the truth of the fact that we also can exist in other dimensions. Our subconscious minds are there to connect us to these other dimensions which are our natural state of being, as well as to protect us from the idea that they are real. Only the most enlightened people among us know that they are there and that we are tapped into it. The rest of us need to live in the real world and not be distracted by this idea. It's easy to do, all you have to do is pretend that what you experience in dreams comes from your own wild imagination and weird unbounded feelings, hopes, and desires. Then you can dismiss them as just being fantasies, thus buffering you from truth.

Undoubtedly some of what you dream is fantasy because that's how the mind works. You can dream about having sex with your boss, but next time you encounter him you will say to yourself, that was just a dream, and go on and interact with him as if it never occurred, which it didn't. That's fine and has nothing to do with what I'm talking about.

And that's why the subconscious mind is the way it is, so that we can put plausible deniability on whatever we wish to plausibly deny.

I didn't just sleep with my boss.
I didn't just see my dead father on the street and talked with him.
I didn't just travel to another dimension where I interacted with elves and dwarfs and they gave me a good idea for a story.

Or did I? It all gets mixed up in the subconscious mind, the truth with the fictions with the facts, and gets mushed around in there until we don't know what to believe, or can choose what to believe and what not to believe.

By the way, these are some of the ideas that I have permeating my latest novel, "A Haunting at Mackinac." The main character, Alina, is a psychic trying to control her skills at the same time fighting evil on an Island which seems to have the ability to telescope psychic powers. It's available for the Kindle on the Amazon website.

If you are wondering how I came to my conclusions here is a shortened version of that story:

My father died when I was 17 years old and I remember laying in bed the night after he died and wondering where he was. Somehow, the Christian view of heaven was leaving me cold. So I began to search. That night I started a spiritual search that ended years later with the writing of this novel. During this search I studied all the major religious beliefs of the world as well as spiritualism, paganism, Native American philosophy and the occult. What I came to believe is not in any one given religion, but a truth made up of a deep belief that I am a spirit and a part of God. I liken myself to a hand that is trying to learn a new skill, possibly knitting. The hand has to learn how to hold the needle and the yarn and manipulate it in a certain way to gain a certain result. I am God's hand, learning to do something that God wants to learn to do, and wants me to learn how to do. The way I see it, that's what we all are. It's like the hippies used to say, we are all connected because we all have that spark that comes from God, the spark that gives us life in this physical world but cannot exist apart from the supreme creator from whence it came. Therefore, what does it matter if we are Catholic or Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu, Muslim or Christian. We fight wars over these separations when we should be acknowledging the fact that we have all arrived at the same place from different roads. Gandhi said, "I am a Hindu and a Muslim, and a Christian and a Jew, and so are all of you."

I could go on all day, in fact, I have spent the entire morning writing this. So it's time for me to get some work done since this doesn't count toward my Nanowrimo word count!

For those of you who have read through this entire tome, thank you! We'll talk again.

Cindy K-K

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Nanowrimo news, self publishing woes, and Thank yous!

I had two comments about my Blogs within the last week and I want to thank everyone who reads me. I will post another "Tessa's Travels" Blog this afternoon!

I keep telling everyone that my Novel "A Haunting at Mackinac" will be out on Kindle in a matter of days. The only problem is I've been saying that for more than a week. LOL! I am working toward that goal. It's a matter of learning the technology, a feat that I am very slow about. There is still the feeling that if you do something wrong on the computer things get deleted and never are found again. Or you get a virus and screw up the hard drive or any of the other things you get warned about in spam e-mails happens, all of which will make you gasp and give you headaches and wish you had never seen a computer before. And yes, I'm being melodramatic so I can get it all out of my system at once and never think about it again.

Whew, now that that's all gone!

I am now going to relate this whole issue with my real world experience of Applique! When I first wished to do applique, it was because I saw a beautiful quilt that had applique on it. I thought, no prob, I can do this. Well I began to do it and found that it was kind of chore. I hated it. I got to the point on the project where I had to only do applique before I could go on and finish the whole quilt top, and I just got stuck! I put it on my UFO list and there it sat for over a decade.

Meanwhile I picked up a few hints and lessons from other quilters and I took a class with Elly Sienkiewicz, and after that I decided that I needed to teach a class, because as all teachers know, if you truly want to learn something the best way is to teach it to someone else. So long story/short, my skills began to catch up with my ambitions and I now love applique and would never give it up! Now I have the skills to go back and finish that UFO on my list that I began 15 years ago. And I will, as soon as I have time!! LOL!

That's where I am with this whole Kindle thing. I have a book, it's been edited and now I feel confident enough about it to put it out there for you all to read. But what's stopping me is this whole self-publishing software issue. It takes me about five read-throughs to get what they are trying to tell me. But when I do get it it's so simple, why it takes all that explanation to say so little is what has me bogged down. I've been jumping back and forth between the Amazon website and the Microsoft website trying to figure out step by step everything that I need the manuscript to have in order to self-publish this thing. That's the hold up. What I really need is a mentor! Someone who has done it already and who can guide me. My husband is the computer genius in the family and he is too busy playing WOW to help me with this issue. I have to figure this out on my own. But that's OK, I figured out E-bay and Netflix on my own, so I don't doubt, given time, that I can do this too.

In other news, Nanowrimo is going great! We had our first social event last night and everyone got their Nano-social badge. We made our goal word count of 10,000 words before I even got my computer properly set up. I had to work until 5 and didn't get there until it was half over! Our sponsor had to shell out the whole $100 he had pledged! Next year we are thinking about getting more sponsors and leaving the word count open ended. Maybe asking for a Dime pledge for every 100 words the group does or a penny pledge for every 10 words or something along those lines. Our total from last night was well over 20,000 words.

We had a great time! We again played the game where someone started a story with one sentence and then the story travels around the room and everyone adds a sentence to the story. It's a very fun exercise.

Last nights story had lots of blue shining and flashing objects, stones and swords and dragons and flashing lights and blue vortex portals, it was very cool!

I'll sign off for now, go see the Tessa's Travels Blog. I'm going to work on that one next!

Thanks again,
Cindy K-K

Monday, October 31, 2011

New writing projects on the horizon

I have been writing daily letters to a dear friend of mine, who is away at her first year of college. Today I wrote my last letter to her telling her about my new writing project that I plan to begin tomorrow which is the first day of National Novel Writing Month, better known on the web as NaNoWriMo. So I thought I would share my ambitions with all of you as well.

I am literally days away from publishing my first novel on Amazon which will be available through the Kindle. The book is called "A Haunting at Mackinac" and it has been professionally edited so I'm hoping it fairs a little better than other books that are similarly published. But all that aside, the book is about a girl who is psychic. She is riding the wave of the "spiritualists" of the twenties when table tapping was a common parlor activity for people who wanted some excitement in their lives. However, this girl is the real deal. She can not only read other people's thoughts but she can also talk with spirits. She also tends to open up these gifts in other people around her.

When she arrives at Mackinac Island she awakens a sleeping evil spirit which begins to haunt the Island. The very fact that she is there is what triggers this to happen. But once it does, she has to figure out why it is happening and how to rid the Island of this evil entity. She makes some friends who help her along the way by doing research for her and protecting her in various ways both physically and spiritually. One of these helpers is a 100+ year-old Ojibway Medicine Man by the name of Kineekuhowa. Kineekuhowa helps her discover who the evil spirit is and gives her the means by which she can destroy it.

For Nanowrimo this year I intend to write a book that I have been wanting to write for a few years now. I got the idea while I was working at Polk. It started while I was compiling info for the city directory and I came across the name "Blackburn." I thought about what kind of fictional character someone named Blackburn would have to be and soon I had the main character for a book. Then I transported this character into an idea to write a fictional version of an incident that happened on Mackinac Island during and after the war of 1812 which was fought, in part, on the Island. In the years that passed since I have fleshed out the story several times and now it is fully realized inside my head and awaiting the time it will take to write it down. So now is my opportunity! Starting tonight at Midnight, I will be writing it!

Kineekuhowa is a minor character in this book too. During the War of 1812 legend has it that Kineekuhowa's mother went into premature labor giving birth to him in the same hour that the redcoats took the fort on the Island. In fact this is not so. Kineekuhowa was a boy of about ten years of age when the fort was taken. He had been sent down to the town with a message by his father who was a soldier at the fort, a tracker by the name of Gitchi Mug-wa, or Great Bear. The message was that the Ojibwa people needed to leave the Island at once, because the red coats were battering the bluffs. All the Native American people's got in their canoes and went to the mainland. It wasn't long before the American soldiers joined them.

I am nearly finished with a book called "Tessa's Travels" (for more about this book see my Blog of the same name, linked to the right). In this book, Tessa meets up with the descendants of Kineekuhowa who adopt her into their tribe. When they tell her about Kineekuhowa it is because the Windigo (evil spirit) who is after Tessa in this book is also expected of killing Kineekuhowa in the early sixties. It is said that Kineekuhowa died the same week as John F. Kennedy, and that he died under unusual circumstances. He did not die of natural causes like a man of 150 years probably should. It is said that he might have had the blood of the Bird People in him. I will talk more about the Bird People later as I develop these two stories.

So for a Character that started out in my first novel as a minor after-thought, Kineekuhowa has developed into a full-fledged icon of my writing. I would love for someone to come up with a drawing of Kineekuhowa for the release of my novel. He is about 112 years old when this story takes place, and he is described as looking a lot like the actor Floyd Red Crow Westerman who played Ten Bears in Dances with Wolves. He has white hair that is braided in a thin braid that hangs down the middle of his back past his waist and is tied with a piece of leather. In the book his great-grandson makes him a medicine headdress out of a carved piece of a hollow log worn as a crown and has embedded dear antlers. To announce his coming he sends Alina a Mandala made with a rabbit skin, and decorated with Buffalo wool and bird feathers. These are all elements I would like on my cover art.

I will try working something up on Paintshop Pro. I am told that cover art is very important for book sales.

I'll write more on my progress toward this goal later. Meanwhile I have one novel that I want to try to finish as best I can tonight before Midnight and then after midnight a new novel!

I got my work cut out for me!

Cindy K.-K.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My new Writing Career!

See this quilt? I won first place in the 2011 Patchwork in the Pines quilt show, for best group quilt!

In other news, my arm is now healed properly, this time. I finished hand therapy yesterday and I accomplished all my goals. And now I am looking forward to yet another Nanowrimo coming up in just 13 days! I want to be finished with my novel entitled "Tessa's Travels" by then so I can set aside the second draft for proofing and editing at a later date, so I can write a novel that has been in my mind for many many years, a novel about the war of 1812 called "Blackburn."

That, in a nutshell, has been my life for this past year.

Oh yeah, there is one other tiny thing.

I am giving up quilting as an obsession! Quilting is going to be downgraded to a hobby only and not one that takes up so much space in my thoughts, my life, and my house. I have changed the desk that I used to quilt on for my computer desk, I am sitting at it right now, in fact. My sewing machine is now only an occasional visitor on the scene. I take it to Interquilten on Tuesday afternoons for open sew and do most of my sewing there. Puts a limit on how much I can actually get accomplished. I still relax in front of the TV at night with hand work, that's something that will always happen though. It's part of having a hobby!

My profession is now writing and as such, I invite all of you to be part of my journey. I will be trying for a greater on-line presence in the near future so . . . tell your friends!!

I am short days away from publishing my novel entitled "A Haunting at Mackinac" on Amazon for the Kindle. I am hoping for some publicity for that work of fiction on their site. But I know for sure that I have several friends who will buy it as well. I need to do some cover art for it. Anyone know anything about that who can help? I would appreciate a shout out. Otherwise I may just end up with a stylized photo of the Grand Hotel, which features prominently in the book.

Well, at least, while striving for a greater on-line presence, I will be Blogging more often.

Thanks for reading,
Cindy K.-K.