… as writer or reader I drift and dream …

Writers and readers have their unique (often indirect) discernment of text and image; a fluid perception spots moods in the sky, or envisages what’might be happening behind doors.

We look towards individuals to interpret our humanity, or the lack of it. But given the electric maze of mirrors that has come to represent our interlinked minds, what attracts us, what makes sense?

Global media outlets thrive on sensational reports of events, and equally sensational opinions. What merges to cohere and assumes meaning in our inner world swings day in day out  from the shocked, incredulous to the sarcastic, while many of us yearn for resonance with something deeply felt, be it a past, present or future versions of reality. We hope for a truth just around a corner, or a poetic hint towards the hidden place of our own chest of treasures. Food for thought comes through the stories that spring from our collective psyche, asserting we’re not alone, but part of the bliss, and part of the pain of existence.

As a writer, I struggle to express what is not obvious or visible – an insular task, with pitfalls and doubts. Readers who respond with sensibility to imagination that springs from dark and private places of solitude are rare. What wings into the air from solitude, poems among them, fleeting and shy like butterflies, can at times trigger unexpected flashes of light and shift our thinking and feeling.

Imagination is the cornerstone of my novel, ‘Course of Mirrors.’ Combining fragments of my life into a fabric of mythic realities – probabilities wedged between rational deduction and magical alternatives, the story is however psychologically embedded in universal experiences, the ambivalent realities familiar to any reader.

Feedback to my writing sustains me, especially now, once more, the feedback to the ‘Shapers’ manuscript from beta readers/editors during the process of polishing. For such gifts, I give deep and heartfelt thanks to my angels, Zohra, and Susanne.

This question has been put to novelists: … When you write, what readers do you have in mind?

I pass … I’m the only reader I know.

What I write flows from my perception. Words I put into the mouths of characters are based on how I imagine myself into their skin and psychological existence. I follow their trials, immersed in the narrative, just like readers will be immersed in the movie they make in their minds while reading, along with the sensations evoked.

As a dreamer, my writing is playful, personal, fed by unconscious processes, like sharing a dream with a friend in a walled garden, not going on stage to entertain the whole town. In other words, the shape of my novels evolves with no thought of addressing a broad generic group of readers.

Pre-plotted novels can be page-turners and offer welcome entertainment, but they tend to preclude my emotional involvement, which is not to say that I don’t admire the art of wordsmiths wherever I find them.

Intuitively drafted novels, with or without plot, have a different feel for me, with elements of surprise. Intuition applies to my life in general. Writing is an inner demand. I’m most alive when I drift and dream.

Can you, writers and readers out there, add to these reflections?

My post from five years ago relates … better than the present one 🙂 I may need a holiday. https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/moans-from-an-unruly-writers/

I cheer the unruly folk, including fools, dreamers, innovators, artists, poets and writers with an ear towards the hidden …

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “… as writer or reader I drift and dream …

  1. Agree with everything. But…Life is easier with an outline. I wrote three novels, each without an outline. Still I would recommend an outline to anyone else.

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  2. Writing for me can *sometimes* be like trying to extract blood from a stone. Other times it’s easier when I feel the flow of putting down thoughts and feelings, each of which belongs to the other and helps in clarifying whatever it is I want to convey as you say ‘with an ear towards the hidden’. Lovely post Ashen, thank you ..

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    • Thank you, Susan. Writing for me is tuned to the energies of waxing (letting go) and waning (gathering) of the moon, conjoined with the ebb and tide of the sea, natural energies we’re all subjected to. Moving against these energies is imposed on us by our culture. And, I totally grant that going against and overcoming these energies gives us an enormous sense of achievement at times. Humans are strange animals. 🙂

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  3. I only write short stories about the lives of my family and myself. I absolutely have to be in a mood to write, but lately my energies and imagination have vanished. I feel locked in quicksand and can’t climb out. I need to find a rope or ladder to get me out of this mess. My stories come from my heart.

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    • Maybe check your relationship with the moon. Also, I just saw a video on YouTube, about ;grounding’. I understood why I feel so much more energised when walking or sitting in the garden with bare feet, as I did today.

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  4. Coming from a painter’s perspective, I find myself getting itchy and unsettled when viewing contrived and excellently produced works of art.
    All production needs plans. We would be lost should a house be built on just turning up each day and hammering a few nails.
    Being “Unruly” as a writer/painter/builder etc. is not all bad. It just comes down to timing. The art of realising when to let the mind soar by creating and when to stick to plans.
    Plans are immensely valuable, but they are usually based upon past knowhow accrued over centuries.
    My heart lies with how the idea became worthwhile when it was first taken up.
    Always great to read your morning post Ashen. Cheers B

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks B. Interesting thoughts.
      I could well do with more planning, but I rebel against tight structures that leave no opening – are too perfect, intimidating almost.
      It’s a form of disability of mine, which I’m trying to justify 🙂
      Not sure about the house analogy. Bricks are pretty grounded stuff, they don’t take off on wings.
      Maybe it’s also my sensitivity to what’s called the golden mean – the dance wants to spiral on,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reader as audience. And I saw this just today in the LRB (21Mar):
    “Your spectator is sitting not only
    In your theatre, but also
    In the world” (Bertolt Brecht).
    And so your reader reading your book
    is in your book but also somewhere else –
    in a bedroom, on a bus, in a library, in a garden
    in a cafeteria, in a waiting room.
    On a swing, in a chair, on the grass in a park,
    on the beach.
    For argument, one should probably consider
    audience, generally identified via
    the occasion of writing.
    For genre writing, the audience has
    already taken their seats.
    For poetry, there is no
    audience. Alas?

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    • Hi Jo. For me there’s a difference between a first insular drafting, that is before sharing a text with any outsider (notwithstanding the inside audience,) and the process after committing to share, with friend, beta-reader, editor, online … The ‘other reader’ is then instantly projected outwards and empowered to inspect and analyse the text – and already becomes an inner reader, even before feedback arrives. Then the work of polishing starts in earnest.

      What you say about genre writing: ‘ … the audience has already taken their seats …’ is clear. Frustrated customers may demand their money back 🙂
      And ‘… For poetry, there is no audience. Alas? …’ I guess poetry is a shy wild creature protecting itself.

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  6. Keep dreaming…and writing! ~nan

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hmmm. I write for me, yes, but I try to think of those readers who enjoy the chase, the fight, the explosion–those who are a little bit action junkie, a little bit of a sap for those mushy moments, and don’t mind a touch of tense drama during the quiet moments.

    Probably a niche audience, I imagine…lovely post!

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    • Thanks Jane. While writing, I don’t think of readers out there, I enjoy the writing journey too much. Later on I’m at a loss how to package the story. I’ve been good in the past at promoting other people’s projects, but am hopelessly unable to promote anything of my own. It’s a kind of disability, I admit.

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  8. I agree, I love intuitive story-telling. However, if it’s artfully, carefully, written, I think I love the writing of plotters too. I guess I’m standing on this fence so far as reading goes. But for writing, the times I get most satisfaction from my writing is when I’m working intuitively, letting the story unravel in those unexpected ways you describe. That feels like flying.

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  9. Hello! It’s a genuine pleasure to meet you. I concur with your thoughts on writing for yourself, although my perceptions about it may be slightly different. I wrote my entire novel, Forever Never/.Dawn of the Dream, while living in Costa Rica. The raw beauty and ancient feel of that lovely country carried the story along for me. The characters were, and continue to be, dear companions since each one is some aspect of myself. Through their growth and experiences I feel I have grown. Imagine my dismay when I submitted the manuscript to a publisher who said it was well written, akin to Tolkein’s Silmarillion, but concluded that today’s readers would not be able to follow or retain interest. They offered to publish if I paid most of the cost. I was discouraged for awhile, feeling I could not alter my style to suit a rabid, insatiable audience. I wasn’t going to ‘dumb down’ my work. I still won’t. But, I am rewriting my story with an attempt to bring the characters to life in a more relatable way. I want the reader to feel what they feel, to empathize and perhaps find something of themsleves within each one. If that does not suffice, well I have written a tale that inspires me and a handful of my own ‘editors’ alone. That will be enough for me. Thanks for visitng my blog. I love your words.

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  10. Thanks for visiting, Cheryl. I hope you find further inspiration in my treasure trove.
    Writing my first novel, Course of Mirrors took several years. Blessed with an editor friend through the rounds of polishing, the story was in good shape in 2013, though I had not presented the MS to anyone.
    A poet I met online introduced me to a small publisher who loved the novel and wanted to publish it. I patiently waited for three years, getting older, until the publisher admitted having to discontinue the book publishing side of her business, and I was finally released from my contract. I had already a sequel near completion, so I self-published with Troubador. They also print and store books, and bookshops find it easy to order through them (unlike from Amazon.) Unfortunately I don’t have the funds left to pay for promotion. More sales would help me publish the sequel.
    It could say ‘Keep it up,’ Cheryl, but given the glut of rejection stories one reads about, it takes great courage to risk rejection. I hope you, and I, will find the courage.

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