Fiction Writing Process I – The Birth and Shaping of Fiction

Various Sources and Resources

The writing process is fascinating. There is conventional wisdom about how to do it, but there is considerable variation among those of us who write fiction. Nothing is universal. Clearly we are using our personal resources, but certainly we all need editors and a proofreader at the end. Of course there is the matter of inspiration. For me, I found some surprises. And those surprises came at many levels. First I noticed that I reached a point in the development of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy when I realized that I had been working on it, in what I call the back of my brain, for decades. 

Sources of Inspiration

And I found the source of inspiration was anything but confined. Over my life I’ve worked in a number of environments from medical establishments, helping people with personal conflicts, assisting in vocational choices and addressing inner city poverty. In the latter, our staff had to do battle with entrenched interests among the higher ups. While they were not despoiling the earth, they were working against the development of a rich new way to deliver services. Such opposition can be seen at all levels of our lives and in our societies.

Many Changes and Sources   

And at the time women were becoming more and more central and influential. My mentor was an extraordinarily bright black women. My feminist orientation was born in those days. Later I moved on to dealing with the crisis management of stepfamilies in formation. And through it all I was getting deep into people’s personal lives in psychotherapy and some of it was simply life management. 

From my educational background I had acquired a fascination with mythology and cultural processes. All of these elements coalesced in causing me to watch the world stage and political intrigue as our social life on this planet developed and we descended into environmental and social crises. 

And more recently women rising to power has become more central as they gained control over their fertility and cultural events defined a need for new roles. I won’t try to detail the process because it is complex and is well covered elsewhere. But we can see their rise worldwide and the benefits attached are truly stunning.

Melding Sources and Themes

When I put all these components together a story was taking shape in my brain. It was attuned to feminism, the reality of growing conflicts and portrayed the need for stewardship of all kinds. And, of course, it had to have a mythological context which enhanced its creative shape.

Shaping the Story

At some point the question becomes how to shape the story. The author can simply start writing, can make notes and can also organize. My wife writes screenplays and in her work I saw something fascinating in the form of Dara Marks’ (see www.DaraMarks.com) Transformational Arc. I recognized it immediately. It is apparent at the movies. Specific elements are built including high points and culminations such as “as bad as it gets” which is the crisis that generally comes about three quarters of the way through a movie. The system does a wonderful job of shaping stories so they thrive rather than plod. I also used Carl Jung’s personality typology to help guide me in developing and joining characters. In fact, I present this tool in my book Creating Characters and Plots which is available as an ebook on Amazon.

But there was also the matter of containment when inspiration was truly sparked. The outpouring began which led to three books. I refer to it as coming from the back of my brain, but we know such things are fortified by the contributions of the right brain. And, with my knowledge of Carl Jung’s personality typology I could see that my personality components were making a contribution. My primary function of Intuition was leading me to speculative fiction and my auxiliary function of thinking was saving me from utter disorganization because it forced me toward organization.

In subsequent posts I’ll give more details on various components of what I call the writing process and what aids its organization and development.

What shapes the story of your life?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

A New Year of Peril and Promise

 

Coming this spring, Gaia’s Majesty:Challenge – The Chosen Rise.

Book 2 in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

 

 

           

A New Year of Peril and Promise

Intriguing Possibilities

Now comes a new year. It is both a year fraught with peril for America but one which also holds extraordinary promise. By and large I’m going to leave the political analyses to others although it is very hard to separate politics from policy and process, including the content in fiction writing.

This year in my blog I’m going to cover a variety of topics.In the spring the second book of my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy will be published. (See cover at top of page.) Among issues I will be covering related to the trilogy will be the origins of the story in the series, expanded commentary about key Andromeda women warriors in Majesty, and commentary on some issues facing authors. I’m also going to make a few comments related to the adventures my wife and I had in the Caribbean as the world expanded for us. But the major focus near term will be the issue of the empowerment of women and a call for men to examine themselves and their culture. What is happening with women offers huge potential. It is an opportunity we must seize.

Call for a Movement

A Collective Search

We have a feminist movement and it’s time for a masculinist movement. If you think that means a movement in opposition to feminism, that is the opposite of what is needed. We need a movement in which men together evaluate themselves, male culture and what has been holding them back. We can only dimly see where that may lead us.

With this new year and all its import, I’m going to begin a new series which I’m calling the Masculinism Movement. (Hear the echoes of the words “Feminism Movement”.) The Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s opened with women coming together in groups to evaluate their positions and their way forward. Now that we are entering a period where we look toward full empowerment of women, it’s time for men to come together in groups to assess the male culture and to own how they have been and what has been done to them. The recent cresting of sexual harassment allegations are instructive but are only one facet of problems in the male culture.

As noted, the proposed Masculinism Movement is not a movement purely to empower men. It is a movement in which men assess themselves and assess what has been holding them back in general and especially in regard to women. It is an opportunity to examine the male culture and the roots of their need to dominate and keep women subjugated. Men even inhibit the reproductive health care of their wives, mothers, children and grandchildren. It is a wholly irrational process. This is not how men are but a cultural issue.

A Personal Opportunity

Rarely have I seen men come together to deal with their culture and how their lives have been shaped by what is often tyranny and control by their fellows. Rarely is it even mentioned, but it is often assumed that men simply feed upon power and domination. There is surely a lot more to it that many men have not examined and that includes the influence of all forms of male culture in their lives. These influences extend to their relationships with women and how they function in our society. If men are to change and we are to truly open the full potential for our future, men must examine themselves. That is the force of the movement and it can help us reshape our societies. And some of the issues for men surely may relate to insecurity or distorted self concepts often reflecting what has happened to them personally or as a function of the larger male cultures.

Please let me hear your thoughts.

roger.burt@earthlink.net

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Origins and Sources for The Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy- Part 1

Inspiration and the Author

Whatever That Means

As soon as I input the word inspiration, something inside of me asks, “what?” At once I understand. Inspiration is defined by Google as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”. Does that help? Not for me. Like so many things, it raises more questions than answers and the stimulation is not just mental.

A familiar image is of the author sitting before a typewriter (now a computer) waiting for something to stir him or her or give them direction. First off we have to wonder why the author came to sit there if there was no clear inclination of direction or clarity of substance.

Inspiration does seem to have an independent life of its own. Partly because books of fiction have roots inside ourselves. Nonfiction may be simply our need to give clarity to a real world subject. But fiction is another matter.

A Process Without Clear Delineation

At the same time it just may be that we are wasting our time trying to define inspiration because we are led into a cave with a myriad turning points and possibilities. Sometimes it just may be that we have to accept that we are being stirred by something we cannot immediately define. It may be that where we begin may be nowhere near where we end up.

As such it may be best to see what we can do to focus an idea no matter how vague and see if an outline of some sort may emerge. As a psychologist I often come back to the idea that things are often not what they seem. What we call reality has anything but a hard edge and certainly inspiration may be fuzzy. We may have to simply take inspiration off its leash or find a way to do that.

A Road or An Adventure

In fiction we are certainly looking for a way down a road, an adventure of some sort. The beginning is to simply start down the road. And the road we choose may be very different depending upon the stage of our lives. We may be searching a purpose for ourselves, looking to reveal something to others or even doing an assessment of where we have been and its meaning.

Finding a Beginning Point

Looking back I have to wonder where the beginning of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy really was. There were just two general thoughts. One was that in my life I search for possibilities and that I’m entranced by mythology. The simple explanation was that I found myself focused on the meaning of mermaids. In their own way they are so prominent. As a story began to develop it became clear that women were central and that another root was the matter of the empowerment of women.

From there I found an outline was becoming insistent and steadily clarified as it grew and grew and grew. Since I am hardly at the beginning of my life I had to realize I was doing an assessment and was turning pages to think further about what may lie in our collective future. Together we can see where it leads and search out the substance of meanings.

What is inspiration for you?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Irrational Control

 

Why do you think women are controlled?

Breadth of Threat

To me the image I chose to go with this post is extraordinary! I chose it because it conveys power and threat. Both are at issue in the interactions of men and women and this image clearly has a mythological quality to it.

The Mysterium Tremendum alludes to something most often seen in the realm of the myth. As indicated, it is of interest in this context because I believe it relates to the apparent need to keep women “under control” but certainly with relatively less power. It seems that women pose extraordinary threat. The fair sex? How interesting!

Naturally it may be that the need to keep women controlled or contained may merely be a matter of men wanting to retain as much power as possible. Often the argument is made that the restriction of women’s rights and freedom relate to the issue of knowing the paternity of children. While there may be betrayals, it seems unlikely to be the complete reason. Again, it is hard to come up with a totally clear and complete reason because in so many ways it is irrational. It hints at some underlying force.

The Female Power

What might that force be? There is surely no one force but one of the number may be the extraordinary attraction to a woman felt by a man. We stress a woman’s appearance certainly more than that of a man. At celebratory gatherings the men are routinely dressed in dark suits or black formal attire. It is an entirely different matter for the women.

When we look back into mythology we see the men are often dynamic warriors but dangerous women take another form entirely. They do not classically attack as much as they use extraordinary powers. Certainly in the Odyssey there are examples of the dangers Odysseus faced. There was Scylla who was originally a sea nymph loved by the sea god Poseidon. His wife poisoned her bath water and created a creature with 12 feet and six heads on long snaky necks. Her loins were girded with the heads of baying dogs. Clearly a very dangerous woman. And there was Charybdis, also female, who was a dangerous whirlpool.

At a more generic level we see the contrast between witches and warlocks. Witches are generally more dangerous or are more often portrayed as so. We use the term bewitched to refer to the power of a woman over a man.

Real World Mythic Power

Again I have to come back to the point that it is unlikely we can rationally define the reason women are so controlled. We often make superficial analyses but my suspicion is that the root of the issue is the power of sex and sex is certainly powerful because it is related to reproduction and the continuity of our species. And this power takes on mythic proportions.

The reason for even discussing this issue is that we all suffer from this kind of discrimination and virtual imprisonment. It is clear that freeing women and empowering them is having remarkable benefits for everyone. If we detach ourselves from the prejudice and discrimination, then we can all benefit. Need I say it is also only fair but also need to stress the diversity and complexity of the issues.

What alternative explanations do you have?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Finding Benefits in Our Lives

How would you assess your benefits?

So much of the time we deal with problems and fraught issues. I thought this time I would share something about my life which relates to the issue of women that has been a focus. My position on the empowerment of women is clear. I am delighted with what I see happening. When I turn on the news channels I see women of all ages taking on effective and essential positions. I won’t spend a lot of time discussing the obvious. At last more and more of the talent of women is being fostered and recognized.

Partnership

And another theme which I feel is essential is that we are not talking about men being replaced in seats of power. There is a much larger issue and that is of equality and partnership. We have so much to offer each other and so many talents to share. And I’ve had the great good fortune of marrying a smart, creative and tenacious woman. I have felt lucky through the entire time from when we were raising our four children, her era as a hippie jeweler and then when she joined me in my practice as a clinical social worker. And now in our later years she has further enhanced our lives with her efforts at our home.

When we arrived at our current home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore we saw a property with potential and that included its settling. The outside was a blank slate and my wife chose it as her canvas.

This is my wife and Shield Maiden

This was her blank canvas

The Oasis She Has Created

                        

 

And then there is the lovingly cared for vegetable garden.

Yes, we have choices but also good fortune plays a role. This post is dedicated to my wife and Shield Maiden who is my partner in dealing with life as it has been, is and becomes.

(In case you missed the series The Vikings, Shield Maiden refers to the women who fought alongside their men. My wife’s mother was Norwegian.)

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Overlords in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

 

Universal Struggle

Struggle is universal among the animals of Earth. Competition presses their development. And we see that competition in the interactions of protagonists and antagonists. In this series the antagonists are called Overlords. One of the essential struggles is against their greed and domination.

People are predators who had their origins in the sea. The Tethyans were some of those who developed in the sea but were charged to contain their predation. There were other predators who emerged and they remained thoroughly committed to greed and power. Those are the Overlords. Given the mission of the Tethyans for stewardship, the conflict between these two groups was inevitable.

Not An Invention

In fact these antagonists are not strangers to us. There are many forms of rule and that rule amy be benevolent or oppressive. Looking back at European history we see a ruling class which was composed of intertwined royal families. Some were more benevolent than others. Royalty finally bowed to a new form of government but the existence of powerful intertwined groups did not disappear.

In some way it is appropriate to say that royalty has been replaced by the oligarchy. In each country we see wealthy families dominating business and they have great governmental influence. In Russia the oligarchs have been fleecing the people. Their grasp on power is deep. In America we are clear wealth heavily influences our government. Oligarchs are among us as well.

Benefitting the Many

The Overlords in this trilogy are a devise. They were not meant to be a truly substantive part of the work. Certainly they have a role, but in the end they yield to a more fundamental theme. As with royalty, times change and different kinds of influence come into being.

A core theme in these works relates to the end of the subjugation of women and their empowerment. And as that occurs there is broader benefit and prosperity. And even better, there is the reality of them forming strong partnerships with men.

In the end wouldn’t it be wonderful if we replaced the rule of the oligarch with the benevolence of women and men in partnership. Of course it’s a dream, but the power of the empowerment movement and its benefits are already flowering. So it may not be just a dream.

What do you think of this dream?
Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Dedication

The Sources of Inspiration

In writing we often get so focused on the work at hand that we forget that our inspiration requires a statement of dedication. I find that defining the dedication may not be simple and may require attention to the diversity. Our inspiration may be somewhere close at hand or may involve much larger players or forces.

Dedication To Women

Yes, in our love stories men celebrate the women they come to love. But there is a larger context to which we often don’t attend. For the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I wish to propose a dedication to women in general. They are a creative force in all regards, through their activities and through the children they bear for our future. For too long they have been subjugated. And now, at last, their empowerment is gaining force. They are to be celebrated in their diversity in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy and just now in the publication of the first book of the trilogy, Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power.

A Specific Dedication

And then I must make a specific dedication to the woman who is especially inspirational to me. Together we enjoyed the television series The Vikings partly because we both have viking blood and fight life’s battles in partnership. We were amazed and delighted to see the women called Shield Maidens who fought side by side with their men. And so I am dedicating Gaia’s Majesty:Mission Called to my wife Mala, my love and Shield Maiden.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Who Cares About Reality? – Just Live Your Life

 

Do you find yourself ever considering the meaning of reality?

Inspiration and Personal Growth

It sounds so simple to forge ahead in life and find inspiration and personal growth as it materializes. But we do not proceed that way and there is this thing called planning and preparing for the future.

Inevitably we have dreams and one of the ways we pursue our dreams is to read. My personal choice has always been speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction. I want to be intrigued and want to explore. Certainly stories of romance can be enchanting but I usually want to explore more deeply. If a romantic story or movie involves the theme of women rising I am strongly engaged. Something amazing is happening for women and for our partnerships and I want to explore it.

Colliding with Reality

Speculation often leads us into a collision with reality and may hint at what is to come. Let me give two examples. George Orwell’s novel 1984 was published in 1949, shortly after World War II. My takeaway from the book was that we should be alert to the coming power of totalitarianism. Certainly his projection of the future was born out in the growth of communism and more recently we can see his themes in the intrusion of information technology. It seems we are never alone.

And then there is Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 a Space Odyssey (published in 1968). There are fascinating themes but my personal love is Hal, the onboard computer. I don’t know about your experience but I am convinced that Hal or a descendant is alive and living in my computer! How else to explain its behavior.

Interacting with People’s Lives

In my office, interfacing with people about their lives, I could not simply focus on the here and now. I needed to sight where they were going and how that might interact with where we were going as people. The lives of people became a collage of who we are and what was happening to us collectively.

Being free to explore and to be a free spirit is delightful but inevitably we run into what we call reality and what kind of reality is being created around us. The reality of hippiedom in the 1960s and 1970s was engaging and entrancing. And now the reality and richness of computer based games opens whole new worlds.

An Enchanting and Expanding World

For me though, living on the cusp of reality permits a jump from the cusp of reality into a glowing and growing movement in a new world. It’s the exploration which is so exciting and, by the way, I want my partner with me. In the end it is she who especially enriches my world and my life.
Where do you think humankind is headed?

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Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

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My Choice of Mysterium

 

What did you conclude after reading about Mysterium Tremendum? (Post of 3/10/17)

The Library of the Unconscious

Up front I have to tell you about my curious brain. I have what I call files in there that were chosen for retention because I found the item interesting or important in some fashion. All too often the item may not be attached to the data which suggested to me I should be storing it. Such is the case for the term Mysterium.

When I set out to write the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy there was much of it which was ill-formed. In fact, I did not set out to write a trilogy. It just became a torrent which I knew related to my regard for the empowerment of women, what it represented and where it might lead humankind. Early on it was apparent that at least some of these women were extraordinarily engaging to the men they met. Beck, the lead male protagonist, was utterly enchanted by Avery with whom he fell deeply in love. Out came the term Mysterium to describe her ability to passionately engage and “bewitch” him. But it was not just bewitching which can be pejorative. It was to form a deep, extraordinary, passionate experience which enhanced their lives together. I happen to be an ardent fan of the Mysterium and chose to make it an important part of the story.

Enriching Fiction

Recently I thought it best to describe the meaning of Mysterium in more specific terms and I went googling. What I found were pages of references to a board game. Not what I had in mind. And then I happened across the material in the preceding post.

It seems I had filed the term decades ago as I was foraging in the world of Carl Jung and James Campbell. And there it was as something which well described what I was seeing in the relationship forming between my lead protagonists.

As it developed in a world of empowered women who were tended by our Earth Mother, Gaia, it became clear to me that it explained something. I believed it related to a process, a perception, and experience deep down in the human psyche. Intuitively I felt it explained the opposition by men to the empowerment and equality of women.

A Universal Phenomenon

We see the desire to contain the influence and power of women everywhere, in every culture and it has always mystified me. And now I’m going to tread into territory where I think many of my male compatriots may take extreme exception. But, I’m going to say it anyway. The impact of a woman’s mysterium strikes deep into men. I believe the power it exerts threatens their sense of their own power.

Lets face it, from the beginning, men’s power has been a significant force. It was essential to our survival and defense in our most primitive days. It is so fundamental that it is not easily contained.

Then comes a woman who is attractive and draws the man in. We use words like bewitch which is often how men experience the attraction. And then in lovemaking an extraordinary climax is reached and as it ebbs the need for it subsides and with it much of the man’s feeling of power. Then a man experiences alternatives. He can be disturbed by her power and what has happened to him and the two of them or he can rejoice in her, hold her close and revel in the experience of the endorphins they share.

Plumbing the Depths and Overcoming

Yes, I hear you. It may be that it is much more complicated than that. Yes, it certainly may be multilayered, and when we reach deep into the human psyche and extraordinary experiences, we cannot crisply define what we find. But, I believe this is our nature and it is a major contributor to the irrational fight to contain and restrain women in all regards. And it is my belief that in the empowerment of women we are seeing a process that will help us accept it and all its many benefits. And then, in the end we will have true partnership and discover its true meaning and glory.

Much more to come over time.

Do you find these thoughts intriguing or do you hate the very idea of it?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Promise of the Women’s March

 

dreamstime_m_39121345

(Sorry about the picture. Something about peace would have been better but I couldn’t help myself given the theme of empowerment.)

What possibilities would you welcome?

At the risk of seeming political I have to comment on the events of this past weekend. What we have seen were events which were not actually partisan, but display two conflicting realities in our country at this time.

Alternative Realities

The events of this weekend underscored one of the basic themes of this blog. Reality is ephemeral and will depend upon what defines your viewpoint. One view is that inauguration day was dark and unpromising in so many ways. The turnout was stunted, enthusiasm low and Trump’s speech dark and uninspiring. It looked like a disheartening display of our future.

Then dawned Saturday. It should be apparent in my posts that I am a strong supporter of the empowerment of women and it is an essential part of my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. I spent much of the day fascinated and often choked up with the unexpected outpouring not just in the United States but in so much of the world.

A Building Wave Disrupted?

It has been one of my perceptions that this time looks very much like the time of world crisis just before World War I and we had reason to fear for the future of the world. It seemed possible that the growing array of crises might lead to a much larger conflagration.

It is my belief that the rise of women to power could well be what will save us. The outpouring on the streets of our cities is a welcome sight and brings not just hope for our future, but the indication of action in the service of all the people of our country. The focus or foci there will be may not be clear yet but a multigenerational surge of activism (of the most positive kind) is strongly suggested.

Resistance and Activism
Certainly there will be profound resistance, but the campaign for our future in the election of 2018 starts today. But activism need not begin or end at the ballot box. Reform, the engagement of vision, and committed endeavors for all our people can be at hand at many levels.

At the end of World War II America, as the only major power standing, led the world and we have worked for stability for decades now. Sustainability and smart energy policies are developing nicely. We have a growing elderly population, but also a strong and vibrant population of immigrants who will be essential for our future when we fully engage and support them.

I could go on at length but I think I have made my point. The movement of women to power and partnership is flowering and requires our welcome and wholehearted support.

What projects would you like to support?

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