Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

1A How To Write A First Drafte Novel - Why Writers Write

The defining external feature of writers is that they writes. This external way of describing a person is ancient and useful for us, because if a nonwriter writes, she will usually become a writer. But as I assume you want to write something marvellous, then there is much more information hidden in the simple fact that writers write.

Stories are mostly about the external world. This ground of our shared humanity is set in linear time, with cause and effect reaching forward and back, and characters involved in external action with others and the world to produce definite material results. It is useful for describing this: a writer writes to produce a book, for instance. But this view has limits.

The great shift in narration in recent centuries has been internally. In its extreme, this ground we share is set in nonlinear time, with only effects or perhaps organising synchronicities, with principles embodied as characters enacting internal conflicts in their lives through reflection and relationships to produce significant change in their subjective experience. The result has been a corresponding deepening in collective subjective experience. What we are experiencing in this shift inward is nothing less than a popularisation of reflective ways of being: the hermetic is dissolved in the hermeneutic, the subjective vanishes into phenomenological, and interpersonal conflict sinks into social theory and psychoanalitic enquiry.

Both are valid. Both have limits. But the reality is that much of the human species only values the outside world rather than the inside except insofar as the inside world produces a tidy profit. So in writing that is designed to inspire millions it is essential to use the external world to achieve reflective ends. Neither view alone is ever sufficient.

Reflection is loveliest when directed towards action.

The word for this is orthopraxis. Ortho is latin for bones and structure, and praxis implies locomotion, kinesis, action and machination. For instance, the orthopraxis of a Marxist intellectual might be to join a union, write journalism and attend marches. The othropraxis of a healer-style doctor might be to read about ethics, attend to spiritual life, not get addicted to medications, and do no harm. For a writer, a major part of their orthopraxis is writing certainly.

But orthopraxis is also the essential indispensable inner work of creating a novel through reflection. It is not totally indispensable I suppose, since it is also okay to suffer dumbly the chaos and distress induced by an unexamined premise that undermines your first draft. But I would not recommend such self-created suffering.

So orthopraxis - in other words, a structured reflection towards action - is what induces writers to write. In many ways writing is not a personal process, but rather the playing out of internal structures generated by a deep unspoken question the writer must answer. The writer feels a deep enquiry that registers on consciousness as inspiration, and manifests as a desire to write. I might add that this is not a particularly personal project and interposing ones egotism into it is not particularly useful.

Writers reflect and contemplate because of WHO THEY ARE. Who are you? This question is a synctium of the following questions:

How do you see the world? What kind of world is it?
How do you see God or the forces of nature? What kind of character do these have?
What forms of negativity are you entrapped in, that you assume are simply you and therefore unavoidable? What excuses do you offer for feeling entitled to these forms of negativity? What opinions do you bother to hold about them?
What are the chains that bind you to generations, nations, the land, and the people?
When and where is the self at peace and silent?
What do you revere, love, honor, cherish and feel willing to sacrifice yourself to out of love?

I will finish with a small quote about inspiration from David Hawkins. This quote is masterful example of orthopraxis in action, and for me has merited multiple readings and reflection:

Grace is the expression of the power of aesthetic sensitivity, and power is always manifested with grace, whether in beauty of line or style of expression. We associate grace with elegance, refinement and economy of effort. We marvel at the grace of the Olympic athlete, just as we are uplifted by the grace of the Gothic vault. Gracious power patterns acknowledge and support life, respect and uphold the dignity of others; grace is an aspect of unconditional love.

Graciousness also implies generosity - not merely material generosity but generosity of spirit, such as the willingness to express thanks or acknowledge the importance of others in our lives. Grace is associated with modesty and humility. Power does not need to flaunt itself, though force always must becauses it originates in self-doubt. Great artists are thankful for their power, whatever its expression, because they know it is a gift for the good of mankind, entailing responsibility to others.


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