Thursday, June 05, 2008

MY VERSION OF THE WRITERS JOURNEY

A couple people kindly expressed an interest in a blog about how my spiritual journey has affected my writing. Good question!

I knew this would take some thought. It's turned out to be the equivalent of condensing a hundred-thousand page book into a three-page synopsis. Don't worry. This won't go on for three pages. :)

Perhaps I should first define what spiritual journey means for me, though it could mean something else to others, and give some background on what triggered this particular phase of my life.

I define my spiritual journey as experiences, realizations and changes in perception that bring me closer to my purpose in this life. My spiritual journey accelerated about five years ago when I turned fifty. A fairly routine visit to the doctor brought a dissatisfying result: he had no explanation for my concern of not feeling well other than I was "getting older." That wasn't good enough for me. I didn't want to live another thirty or so years not feeling well.

So I was ready for another way to live. I was open to alternatives.

I soon had an aha moment that my kids learned about in high school physics: human beings are energy. We are made up of atoms, which are electrons in constant motion in the space around a nucleus. We're not solid at all! Our bodies only appear solid.

A whole new world of possibilities opened up to me!

Not only are we energy, but some people knew how to channel that energy for greater health and well-being. I soon learned how to channel that energy too, through Reiki, and I thought I had discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and won the lottery all on the same day. My life was going to be so easy now!

Well, not exactly.

Reiki did mean healing for me. Not just of my physical body, but on spiritual and emotional levels as well. Along with this healing came the realization that we are responsible for our lives.

Literally.

Our thoughts, emotions and actions determine what our lives will be. Very cool, right? Well, yes, but that also means no excuses. Whatever exists in my life, I'm responsible for manifesting, whether intentionally or by just drifting along. Lousy childhood, fights with parents, flaky relationships with men. Ouch! Why would I bring those things into my life? That's where my lessons came in. I learned to look beneath the surface of what was in my life and question why. When I discovered why, I was able to release emotional baggage I had carried for a very long time.

So how has all this affected my writing? I'm not sure. I haven't written an entire manuscript since my accelerated journey began. I've edited older manuscripts and finished ones that were started earlier, but I haven't written anything entirely new. Even the nine-book series I'm currently plotting was born pre-acceleration.

One thing I have noticed is I expect my characters to be smarter and to understand their own motives quicker. I also feel more comfortable digging deeply into motives. And since my characters carry a piece of me, I expect they will reflect my new perspectives also.

I think my writing process itself will benefit from my accelerated spiritual journey. When I'm stalling or avoiding a particular scene, I'll more quickly know why and push through it. No excuses, remember!

Will this make me a New York Times bestselling author? Not unless I'm willing to commit a hundred percent to that. Will this mean stories will flow uninhibited into my mind and onto the computer screen? Um...maybe!

Perhaps I have come late to the realization that this is a continuing journey with many lessons and many experiences. Perhaps other writers found out long ago that the joy of discovery is ours, it we choose to accept it and embrace it. Whatever the timing, I am honored to share this experience of writing with others who are on their own unique journeys. I would love to hear about your journey if you would like to share it.

7 comments:

Alice Sharpe said...

Thanks, Genene. I'm one of those who asked and I appreciate your talking about it.

It's interesting to me that this started when you turned fifty. I call fifty the year of epiphanies. That's the year I sat down at a table next to a woman at Nationals and we became close friends. She later told me she felt the energy of a recently deceased friend when I sat down next to her and she was shocked (I wondered why she looked so dazed, I knew I'd taken a shower...) Her friend had died of breast cancer, a disease I survived. It was all very odd.

On the plane home I sat next to another woman and the things I learned from her were stunning. It was like that the whole year.

I used to feel as though fear was holding me back. I even blogged about fear a few times and perhaps I'll revisit the subject one of these days. I just noticed the other day that I don't feel so much fear about writing -- that's said poorly. I don't khow to express it except that there used to be a feeling there was something blocking my way and that I had to write around it. I don't feel the obstacle in my path anymore, I'm not sure why.

Thanks again for such an insightful blog. It'll be interesting to know how it goes when you start a writing project from scratch with this new acceleration, but I wonder even as I say that. You're bringing this new energy with you as you approach the plotting. So what if the idea has been around for awhile? Now you're actually working on it. Maybe that's the biggest difference of all.

Paty Jager said...

Genene, I know the first time I met you, your warmth and friendliness were one of the reasons I joined Mid-Willamette Valley RWA.

And at the time thought you were warm and friendly you looked down-trodden. And I've noticed the last few years you have gotten brighter, and lighter and the new Genene is glowing!! So I applaud you for finding the source of that brightness.

As for me- I hit the big 5-0 this month and I don't feel any different then I did twenty years ago, excecpt I have a definite goal in my life now. And it started whent I joined RWA and decided I would be a published writer. Before that I wasn't sure other than a wife and mother what my future held.

Now I have direction and fell more fulfilled than twelve- fifteen years ago.

Not sure that's the journey you were talking about, but that's my take.

Interesting Blog!

Genene Valleau said...

"I call fifty the year of epiphanies." That's so on target for what I felt, Alice. Or perhaps the START of epiphanies. As long as I am open to them -- and don't block them with fear of this or that -- the miraculous discoveries keep rolling in.

I've also noticed that if I just recognize a fear or blockage, that releases its power in my life.

And it will be interesting to see how my new project unfolds. It definitely has new energy -- and that's exciting.

Congratulations, Paty, on turning fifty! I also appreciate your insightful comments.

Hooray for your sense of direction and fulfillment! I've always admired people who knew exactly where they were headed and were committed to getting there. Until the last few years, I've envied that also, as I still struggled to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Now I realize I don't have to act like a grownup all the time -- whatever grownups are supposed to act like -- but can sample life's joys with the eyes and ears and sense of wonder that a child should have.

"Journey" is the term I use to describe the experiences I've had, as I feel like I've "traveled" so far from where I started in this life. That word may not fit for other people. It's simply the analogy I use to try to wrap words around all that I've discovered.

Thanks for sharing!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I'm really glad you've found such balance in your life, Genene. Thanks for sharing your story with us!!

Karen Duvall said...

What a great story, Genene! What is reiki exactly? I've heard of it, but never understood it.

I turned 50 last summer and can't say I've experienced any great epiphanies or major life lessons since then. But when I hit my forties, my confidence finally started to grow and my own life began opening up to new possibilities. My kids were growing up and would be out of the house soon. So I could finally put my priorities in proper order and start treating myself like a person instead of always being someone else's person, if that makes sense.

I'm more of a risk-taker now. I don't rely on things the way I used to and am better able to accept my disappointments as speed bumps instead of road blocks. Talk about a change in perspective. Which means I experience less stress, and I treat myself better. If I have to choose between cleaning house or writing, the writing wins every time. You don't want to see my house right now. The carpet is... well, we won't go there.

I'm still on my journey and it's taken an exciting turn. I have a lot to look forward to. And I'm happy about that. 8^)

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Eli! I've found one thing about balance is that it's constantly shifting. What constitutes balance one day can get knocked out of whack by a new project/opportunity or family crisis. Then I have to adjust my balance again!

Karen, I love your change in perspective. And I know exactly what you mean about being your own person instead of someone else's person. That seems to be especially true of women who have caretaking/nurturing roles as wives, mothers, daughters, etc., etc. You seem to always be upbeat and enthusiastic, which is wonderful!

A simple definition for Reiki is that it's an ancient system of energy healing rediscovered by a Japanese monk in the mid-1800s, based on the belief that dis-ease and illness are caused by energy blockages in the physical body. A Reiki practioner can direct energy to remove these blockages, but the person or animal being treated is free to accept as much or as little Reiki energy as they choose.

I love to work with animals because they either accept the energy or walk away. They don't have all the emotional/mental hang-ups that people do that get in the way of being healthy. :)

Alice Sharpe said...

Kendra, there's an earlier book. I'll ask my son about it and tell you when I get the title.