Category Archives: inspiration

Closing in

They say it is like driving in the dark …

2014-12-20 18.11.10

… writing, that is – you see only a small part of the world, and sometimes it is very hard to know how to find your way home.

But now I have given myself a deadline!

I must admit that I have been strongly influenced by a) my wife, and b) a new job, which starts beginning of February 2015.

But nevertheless, I can sense a small feeling of (premature) celebration.

It has been a long journey. It started with NaNoWriMo in 2011 (yes, 2011!), and it has involved publication of excerpts here on this blog. And of course, many hours with my computer.

The excerpts are now removed, since it was impossible to keep them up to date. The manuscript changes all the time, and when it is finished (yes, it will be), I might reconsider the idea of publishing snippets from the book also here.

I plan to use Bookbaby, and when it is done (the publication, that is), I will give myself some rewards.

I will read this expensive book, leaned back in a comfortable chair.

I might join the Story is a State of Mind course, by Sarah Selecky.

I will read more in these excellent writing books (yes, it is always more fun to read about it than doing it – Resistance, right!):

  • How Fiction Works, by James Wood – because of its language, and because of its use of that language to describe what people have written in books!
  • The Art of Fiction, by John Gardner – because it is interesting in an elitistic way
  • Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose – because it got me started

And I will return to my other book-project – Books with Views.

And I will post here more often – I promise.

Hypnopompia – is that even a word?

Yes it is! – I learned it from Winslow Eliot in her beautiful book Writing through the year.

autumn_leaves

Winslow Eliot says that Hypnopompia is that marvelous in-between moment before you’re fully awake. She also mentions a corresponding state, called Hypnagogia, which occurs in the moments before you fall asleep.

It is said that in these states, where you are in a zone between sleep and being awake, there is possibility for increased creativity. This has been utilized by famous persons, in their artistic but also scientific endeavours, and as explained by Winslow Eliot, it has to do with how our brain works:

During hypnagogia, the normal activity of the left/logical side of your brain is inhibited, allowing imagery in your right/creative brain freedom to experience whatever it wants to, without trying to analyze itself.

The whole reasoning, which also reminds us of the interesting topic of the divided brain, suggests that we should take advantage of what is happening underneath – down in that dark chamber that we call the unconscious – if we want to produce great works of art.

It sounds a bit scary to me. If you ask Robert Olen Butler, it is, and should be, scary. He says, in the very fascinating book called From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction – which, by the way, I think, I found via a reference from Sarah Selecky – that virtually all inexperienced writers end up in their heads instead of the unconscious, and he also gives an explanation for why: the unconscious is simply scary as hell.

But there is hope, I think, and I was encouraged to continue writing when I read the book, which I also finished.

It contains many gems, including a discussion about what we could mean when we use the word art. Robert Olen Butler says that what we remember comes out as journalism, and what we forget goes into the compost of the imagination. And only when we let the memories decompose, down in that chamber we cannot access by force of our will, can we recompose them into new works of art.

The book also echoes many pieces of advice seen elsewhere, which tell us to write every day, and it tells us that

Once you are engaged in writing a piece of fiction from your unconscious, it is crucial that you write every day, because the nature of this place where you go is such that it is very difficult to find your way in.

and also that we are allowed to take one day off, occasionally, but beware, as Robert says: you take two days off and you’re on very thin ice.

The book also has some case studies. In these, we are allowed to see the writing of some of his students, and we are allowed to follow discussions on their writings. I found this very interesting, and there are references to Robert Olen Butler’s own works, in the form of shared pieces from his own writings – some that he is satisfied with, and some that he is not so proud of.

As a final remark about the book, I want to mention the chapter called Cinema of the mind. I found it to be an eye-opener, and there are some very interesting studies in there – one I especially remember is from Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemmingway – showing us how thinking (sorry – I meant letting your unconscious guide you) like a film-maker can help a lot when creating fiction.

So now I try to live as I learned. I have practised a short morning ritual of Hypnopompia-assisted writing for some weeks now. And yes, I can recommend it. It has also increased my word count, so someday I may even finish my writing project.

And in the meanwhile, of course, we should remember that the writing itself is a kind of self-inflicted journey, and that we might also learn some interesting things along the way.

My favourite things

After all the hours of browsing and reading, patterns start to emerge.

bloggers

And here is summary, as of today, the last of February, in the year 2013.

Before I fell in love with reading and writing on the internet, I was convinced that blogs were not for serious people. They were populated by young girls writing about popular things, like fashion and celebrities. I also learned that these bloggers, as they were called, make money – or to be more correct, they are given things. They are given things that represent the brands they mention in their blogs. I felt that I was obliged to consider this as non-real work, with non-real incomes.

That was five years ago. And of course I was wrong.

I worked at a telecom company in Sweden, and I started to find interest in things that happen at work. These were things related to people, and it was most interesting to see how the interactions between people, and the intrigues they created, had such a large impact on the actual business.

I stumbled upon Seth Godin’s blog. I realize now that I was not the first person to have done that, and I have been a follower since I found it. I read every post, they are always good, and sometimes they are both very good and spot on, giving me direct inspiration and renewed energy. Of course I highly recommend this blog.

And he has written books, too. I learned many things from Linchpin, and some I remember most vividly since they tend to follow me along, and cling to my mind. One wisdom is that fear is always there, trying to hinder you from doing your work, and it directly activates your lizard brain.

I also learned, again from Linchpin (but as I now understand, it emanates from Steve Jobs), that real artists ship. I try to follow this advice, but I assure you that it is sometimes difficult!

I work in a University (for one more month from today), and I have spent some time thinking about students and learning, and why nobody wants to be an engineer, and why everybody hates math. Then I saw the light. I found Stop Stealing Dreams, which was very refreshing, and I also sent the link to our Minister for Education. No, I did not receive any answer.

I continued searching, and here are some samples from my current favourites. These are blogs I regularly read, and sites I regularly visit.

Someone pointed me to this great talk by Neil Gaiman. It was embedded in a post on an equally great blog called The Story of Telling. You can find many thoughtful words there, often captured in compact and precise formulations, in posts with great imagery.

From time to time I visit the Zenhabits blog, and I always leave with some added wisdom and some interesting thoughts that I can relate to my work life as well as to more private experiences.

I have read many interesting posts at a blog called Bottledworder, and I have found inspiration for books and reading from 101 Books and from The Bookshelf of Emily J.

For the moment I read about how to write, especially on how to write fiction. I know that I cannot learn that craft from only reading, so I also commit to regular practice, and from time to time I emit some non-fiction posts as well.

One of my current book-zapping projects is called Why we write. I find it very interesting, and full credit goes to the magnificent Brainpickings site, from where I got the recommendation.

Earlier attempts to learn more about writing (and reading) include Francine Prose, Alan Watt, NaNoWriMo, and most recently, Stephen King.

I have participated in World-Changing Writing and Tribewriters, which were interesting, however not life-changing.

For the moment I am listening to, and reading material from, a very interesting workshop from Psychotactics. It is actually free (for a limited time period), and I very much recommend it if you are interested in marketing. The workshop is called the Brain Alchemy Masterclass, and it explains (in a super-pedagogical and very entertaining way) why structure in marketing is critical to growing a business effectively. There may be a waiting list and the time period will expire, but here is a link with more information about the Brain Alchemy Masterclass.

I almost forgot. There is this great place called Box of Crayons. I subscribe to their Great Work Provocations, which means that I receive wise words every day, all for free, and all very helpful and encouraging. And I bought this book that helps persons to do More Great Work. And it helped a lot in my thinking and planning for a new job.

And some days ago I also discovered radio, in the form of a great site called On Being. I have downloaded material from there, and it has made my train journeys inspiring in a whole new kind of way.

I conclude with a thanks, to you who read this blog and this post. Even if they say that you should pursue your art and not think about making it for your readers, it is a lot more fun if there is someone on the other end of the line!