Mental health, Mental Illness, Spirituality

So, in this blog post (and the video that will go along with it, at the bottom of this post), I’d like to talk about the difference between mental health and mental illness, and why that matters in a spiritual context.

Mental health and mental illness often get confused together, called the same thing, and mish-mashed together by the general populace. But! They are not the same thing at all.

Mental health relates to your mental well-being. This is: “our emotions, our thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, our social connections, and our understanding of the world around us.” SOURCE

Meanwhile, “A mental illness is an illness the affects that way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others.” SOURCE

So, when someone is talking about their mental health, they’re talking about their moods, how they’re feeling, and how they can cope and interact with things. But when it comes to mental illness, one is talking about symptoms that are debilitating, crippling, and are diagnosed as things like depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. SOURCE

Now, mental health and mental illness are NOT the same thing, but they are related. There’s this really useful image right here, that explains a whole lot, at least to me. SOURCE

The Mental Health/Illness Continuum

Basically, mental health and mental illness are linked upon an axis. Mental health is the ‘up and down’, while mental illness is the sideways ‘left and right’. Or the y and x axis, if you feel like calling them that.

This means that one can have poor mental health without it being a mental illness, and vice versa.

Personally, I think I have pretty good mental health, at least in some aspects. I’m grateful, I like to see the positive aspects of things, and I try and be mindful (try being the key word, haha). But this good mental health does not imply no mental illness, as the diagram shows, as one can have good mental health while having a serious mental illness.

Now, what does this have to do with spirituality?

Well, because of the confusion of mental health and mental illness, people tend to assume that spirituality can heal it all. But, at least in my perspective and from what I’ve understood of the mental health and mental illness divide, spirituality can only affect mental health (outside of it being a miracle).

Now, there are plenty of great articles out there about how spirituality affects mental health. If this interests you, I encourage you to read up on them!

In my opinion, spiritual practices can help foster things like gratitude, positive thoughts, and a sense of connection with the world and promote happier and more fulfilling social connections. But these are things that fall under the mental health category, not mental illness.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a reputable scholarly article about spirituality healing a mental illness. This is because mental illness is not dependent upon mental health or happiness or gratitude. Your outlook, gratitude, prayer, and positivity can all be on point and great, but you can still have a mental illness. This is because mental illness is, well, an illness, and not dependent upon our mental health.

Now, why is this distinction important?

Here’s the thing: because people confuse mental health and mental illness, they think that mental illness can be prayed away, meditated away, etc, etc, etc,.

But mental illness is an illness based in neurology! Unless one believes that their spirituality will heal a broken leg, I don’t see why it would heal mental illness. In my opinion, it’s a similar experience, a similar required amount of ‘spiritual woo woo’ and energy healing.

Another important point in this distinction of mental health and mental illness is that people confuse which one they had, and then go on to believe and assert that prayer or other spiritual practices did, in fact, heal an illness. In fact, they believe that’s what happened to them!

However, a person suffering from a mental illness will often not be able to function and perform the mental health practices, nor will they see any positive results, as their problems are neurological in nature, not mental health related.

This mix-up between mental health and mental illness ends up placing a huge amount of pressure upon a person with mental illness. Because spiritual practices are so beneficial to those with mental health issues and because there is no distinction between mental health and mental illness, there becomes an expectation that spirituality will be able to heal a mental illness. Furthermore, as these practices ‘worked’ for those without mental illness, the blame for the lack of success becomes placed not upon the process (because it has been ‘proven’ to work), but upon the person with the mental illness.

In cases like this, the person with a mental illness who isn’t achieving results is often seen as not being ‘spiritual’ enough, or not trying ‘hard’ enough. This is very damaging.

Here’s a link to the video I made where I discuss this, for those who prefer videos to written material!

Why write about Spirituality and Mental Illness?

Well, before I get back into my groove of writing about mental illness, it occurred to me that I should maybe explain the ‘why’ behind the decision to talk about mental illness and spirituality.

There’s a saying that goes (and I really don’t remember where it’s from) something along the lines of how the most earnest prayers come from people in hospitals. I think this is particularly true about people in psych wards, or who are dealing with mental illness.

People turn to spirituality when they are hurt, confused, or generally lost. And mental illness makes you feel that, in an strange way sometimes. Because mental illness isn’t seen as a physical problem, its invisible and most don’t realize it’s got physical roots, people don’t turn immediately to doctors. Sadly, people actually refuse to see doctors for mental illness because of perceptions and biases that have their roots in spiritual beliefs.

Some of these are ones like: mental illness is the result of a curse, or God’s punishment for a lack of faith, or the result of being estranged from God. It can also be believed to be an imbalance of chakras that only requires meditation to be cured, spirit possession, or (my personal pet peeve, and one that truly held me back) the belief that mental illness is some sort of psychic ‘breakthrough’.

A bunch of these are due to the conflation/mix of mental health and mental illness. Due to the lack of understanding on the difference of these two, people will often try and use spirituality and spiritual practices (which can be beneficial to mental health) to treat mental illness.

Personally, when I went out with my service dog for mental illness, people would often ask me what the dog was for. Once they found out it was for mental illness, these strangers would often end up giving me some sort of advice or opinion on mental illness. Most of these were spiritual perspectives that were against medication and ‘western medicine’, as well as conventional therapy.

Similarly, when I really struggled with my mental illness and was unmedicated, people often threw spiritual advice at me. It was all anti medication and anti conventional doctors. Now that I am medicated and happily so, I find it really disturbing that there is so much anti-medication sentiment out there! I sometimes wonder what my path to healing would have been like if I had been surrounded by more realistic approaches.

Anyways, now that I am in a better space mentally, I think it’ll be nice to get back into talking about mental illness and spirituality. I think it’ll do me good, as it’s something that I really care about, and love discussing with others. I find it nourishing and cleansing.

I also want to really show others that getting conventional help is not anti spirituality. I once met a doctor in training at a mental health clinic, and he was really surprised to hear that not all spirituality is against medication, and that I had arguments against those points. It made for a very interesting discussion, but also showed me that there wasn’t much perspectives out there that are spiritual and embracing of actual treatment for mental illness.

Anyways, that’s all I have to say for today! I will be posting a video to MY CHANNEL soon about these points, and it will basically be a copy of this post. I’m doing this because some formats are easier for some people and not everyone likes reading, and I’m hoping to make this as available as possible.

I wish you all a lovely day ❤

Unhinged… The Vlog?

Hi everyone! I’m happy to announce that I’m hopefully going to be doing mental health videos.

It’s been a little bit that I’m wondering if I’ll get back into my mental health blogging, and I think I will. But I really want it to be a positive thing in my life, and to come from a positive space, not to be a grumpy rant. So, as YouTube videos have been a fun thing for me, I’m thinking of doing those, as well as some written blog posts.

I’m thinking of discussing technical aspects around mental illness and spirituality. I’m really hoping that these videos and posts can be educational and resourceful for people, especially those suffering from mental illness.

Hopefully I’ll have some guests who can come onto my blog and discuss some stuff with me, so if you have a mental illness/mental health issue and you want to talk about it within a spiritual context, let me know!

If you have topics you’d like to suggest, or things you’d like to see me talking about (not researching, I don’t feel like researching, just talking from a personal perspective), let me know!

Wishing you all a very lovely day, and hoping you’ll like these videos! ❤

Coloring Book Release!

Yes! It has arrived! Well, not to me, physically, but virtually! The Farfadel Fairy themed coloring book is now ready to be bought and colored, and bring all the love and cheer of Farfadel fairies into your home!

I have to say, I am so proud of this coloring book! It has 50 coloring pages (50!), which was a whole lot for me to draw and put together. At the very squeaky end, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it. I was running out of ideas (always my problem with coloring books) and thought I’d have to lower the page count. But then! Magically! I found exactly enough old sketches to finish the last few coloring spots. And lo! Be-Hold! the coloring book was finished.

So where can you get this lovely coloring book? HERE! It is only available in the physical copy, and I’ve tried to make it as cheap as possible so that y’all can enjoy it as much as can be.

As always, please review and DO let me know what you like or don’t like about it. I LOVE feedback, especially if it’s constructive!

Finally, if you are as excited as I am about this release, contact me! I am always looking for people to do blog tours of my stuff, as well as give me ideas of shops to contact to try and get my stuff into them.

As always, much love to you all ❤

A New Phase…

As I have written elsewhere, I think on Facebook, a very difficult situation is drawing to a close for me. As it comes to a happy end, paperwork and all, I have felt a ridiculously huge amount of stress lift off my shoulders. I felt a sudden ten percent jump (approximately) in functioning! So so much stress was suddenly gone, and now I feel a new shift in myself. I feel like I came to a turning point, was suddenly placed back in the driver’s wheel of my life, and some decisions were made. Namely, I’m going to be delving back into my spiritual practice and trying to recenter. I want to return to my roots as a pagan and Buddhist, and to feel myself grow.

So! I got myself a new sketchbook to make into a BOS, I made some concrete weight loss and spiritual practice goals (including taking a buddhist meditation class from a local Tibetan nun!) And I am trying to be gentler and more mindful of myself in my day to day experience. Oh, and yoga. I have been doing yoga twice a day now for a week, following short “yoga with Adrienne ” videos. I have to say I’m really enjoying her videos, and feel very pleased with myself for doing them!

And yet I find myself looking to my fresh new book of shadows and wondering… what shall I put in there? What would you counsel, friends and new readers? I am thinking of revisiting the elder futhark, but beyond that and buddhist meditations, I feel a little lost as to what to do with my shiny new notebook. Any advice or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

As always, I wish you all the best! Have you recently had any spiritual turn around? Let me know what you did, or what you’d advise to do!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_20210219_174808_2448022564660625177314.jpg

Angry Rant ~ Politics and Fiction

Well, that was a fun 20 seconds of no angry ranting. But here, I’ll try and not make this an ‘angry’ rant, more so just a … conversation by myself.

So long story short, there’s this dipshit idea out there that ‘politics’ should stay out of books, especially fantasy and fiction. I fell across it again just today, from an unexpected blogger (instant unfollow, seeing as they also unveiled themselves as a Trumpster!).

Whoever came up with that dumbass idea seems to have no concept of what constitutes basic human rights and compassion, as well as actual politics.

Here, let me make a distinction for you all. Human rights is generally about giving people proper respect and treatment. Politics is generally like ‘where should we put that parking sign’.

Now I KNOW that as of late, the two have become mish-mashed due to a large orange bladder-speaker and their piss-pot of a base. But this is beside the point, which is -> If you have a problem with people being represented and treated respectfully and with equity, maybe the problem isn’t the author but YOU.

As a trans person, I’m just sick and fed up of this. Are your basic human rights up for debate? NO? Then leave mine the fuck alone.

“oh, but!” I hear the piss-pots whine. “we don’t mind that! It’s just the way the left is doing it is ‘too much’!”

You know what? The ‘left’, as you all like to call it, generally listens to ‘own voices’, where yeah, views not your own might be put forward. And yeah, it’ll be disconcerting for you. Get used to it, you’re not the fucking center of the world.

Maybe I’d be a little less pissed if this blogger hadn’t been a white cis male who seemed so offended about everything and anything – the type that simultaneously declares that those who are fighting for their rights are ‘too much’. What a hypocrite.

Anyways, if you believe politics should stay out of fiction, what the fuck are you even writing about? No human rights, no fight for the poor, no fight for the environment, no classist struggle, no … nothing? Yeah, great story, jerk.

Because what you actually mean when you say ‘keep politics out of it’ is ‘keep those views and people I don’t agree with away from me’. If you don’t want to read about anything but yourself, in your own lens, in your own comfort, then that begs the question of what are you reading? What are you learning?

But what’s worse than that? It’s that you don’t want representations of those people in your stories shows you don’t want them around you in daily life. And that’s just discriminatory and nasty, you asshole. What have you got against disabled people? Against minorities?

Seriously, people who want politics out of fiction just want to see their own privileged view spewed back at them. They want to keep seeing themselves as the center of the fucking world, and not to understand or empathize with anyone who they don’t consider as equals. Because let’s face it, if you empathized with others, you wouldn’t have a problem reading about them. Jerks.

Welcome to Circlet School ~ Chapter Five, Part Two

A philosopher somewhere probably said that life started with its first breath. Well, then, so did this ritual. With a grand breath that sounded draconic, the madam inhaled and then exhaled loudly.

She was planted summoning style, feet planted shoulder width and hands raised at her side. Her head was flung back like she was trying to suck in the whole sky. She was now wearing both the circlet and her hooded cape. White sage and incense cones smoldered in the cauldron, crystals strategically placed around our circle, along with the sticks, sorry – staves. A small cloth lay before the fire pit, named ‘altar’. There was the goddess and god figurines on it, the wand, and the stacks of candles and the drum.

We were also each holding a candle, looking like dutiful minions in a cult movie.

With a final exhale that, I’m telling you, sounded quite like a dragon sighing, she drew the hood over her head so it covered the circlet she was wearing. She stepped to the altar and picked up her shaman’s drum and beater. Stepping back to her stand at the head of the circle, she spoke to us all. “We are now about to do something very dangerous. We are going to do a banishing.”

Alright, I may be just an itty-bitty lil’ Gardenerian, but I’d seen my fair share of banishings in my witchy life time. They weren’t dramatic. Often, they were understated and simple affairs that were mainly effective.

This, I realized, was not to be the case with today’s ritual.

“In this ritual, you may see things, feel things. You may even be attacked supernaturally!”

Oh great. Way to set a calm and unprejudiced mood.

“I ask you all to hold the ranks! Do not be afraid!” Despite her previous fear-mongerings. Sure. “I will prevail!”

Yeah, su-ure.

She held up her drum – then seemed to change her mind. “We will now cast the circle,” she announced.

Putting her drum down, she picked up her wand. Turning her back to us (and thereby facing Sapphire who was sitting safely away and watching) she raised up her wand and declared “In the name of the Goddess and God!” and she swept down her wand to point out at the ground. Then, head held high, she began marching around our circle, clockwise (of course).

She muttered something as she walked, but a wind was stirring, sweeping her words away from me. And frankly, I wasn’t quite captivated. I was feeling sleepy, like I had missed my afternoon coffee. Which, I realized, I had missed. No wonder I was sleepy. Hmm. Would I be able to get it soon?

But the madame had reached the beginning of her circle again. “The circle is cast!” she proclaimed, raising her wand for a hero pose similar to that of Amethyst’s previous ritual. I wanted to groan. What was it with the hero-posing?

Seemingly chuffed with excitement, she stepped up to the altar. Dropping down her wand (ouch!) she scooped up the salt. “I cleanse this circle!” she bellowed, throwing salt over her shoulder. “May no harm come here! May no evil happen here! By the power of the goddess, the god, the powers within and without, the fairies, the dragons, the elementals and djinn, I proclaim it!”

Then she set the water back down and picked up the water. Again, she bellowed “I cleanse this circle, by the power of Elohim, the Astarte, the Danu, the Morrigan! The many and the one, be with us here now!”

Say what? Who was she summoning? All that at once?

Now she set down the water and picked up the white sage. Then she checked her pockets. “Does anyone have a lighter?” she asked.

There was a rustle of pocket-checking around the circle. “No,” we all had to admit.

“I do!” called over Sapphire, rising from her chair.

“Oh,” with a light laugh the madame turned around, holding out a hand. Sapphire tossed over the lighter. It struck the madame in the forehead. Whump.

“Sorry!” Sapphire called over, sitting back down. The madame rubbed her forehead but was just a little stunned. Now ignoring Sapphire, she turned back to us.

“I cleanse this space,” she declared, somewhat not as loudly as the other two times. “By the power of three, the triple blessings, and so mote it be!” She clicked the lighter and waved the white sage bundle over the flame. “Eli, Mogroth, Djinn of the east! By your power, I cleanse this space!”

She thrust the white sage up into the air. Tingles rose over my arms. I hated to admit it, but her summonings were working. I could feel presences. Chaotic presences, lurking around like they were cautiously wondering what the hell they were doing here.

“Now,” setting the smudge bundle down, she plucked up her drum and drum beater. “We shall begin our trance. Be not afraid, for I am a seasoned shaman.”

And then she began to beat her drum. It was rhythmic at least, and I began to feel a lull in my senses. I felt drowsy, relaxed. I didn’t even notice that she had began to hum along with her drum. Then she began to shout.

“Evil that hath come to this place! Michael before me! Evil that hath come to this place! Michael behind me! Evil! Michael, I demand you to stand between me and this evil! To destroy it completely!”

I jolted. I felt, very powerfully felt the presence of the archangel. Whether you believe it to be a thought-form, archetype of whatever, it was there. It was fiery, it was powerful, it was pissed off.

“Oh, evil of this land! Great horrors that have been committed here! I summon you, great evil!”

Dimly, in the back of my mind, I wondered why she’d had us hold these candles. Had she forgotten about them?

“Great Evil!” wailed on the madame, summoning something for sure. My arms were tingling with goosebumps. I felt a very, very, pissed off presence. It was strong, like iron, and very angry.

It seemed to be standing straight at the opposite end of the circle from the madame and her archangelic protection. Which, unfortunately, was directly where I was. So this mass of anger and fury was directly before me, with no angelic protection on my side.

Dear sweet Goddess, I thought grumpily in my foggy mind, protect me from this idiocy.

“Great evil! Murderer! Accuser! Ha-shaitan you are called!”

Holy crap, I thought, who the fuck is she summoning now?

“Iblis you are called!”

“The great fallen one you are!”

Now, I felt a greater, more powerful, entity taking place. No longer were we dealing with our genus loci, or spirits of the place. These were cosmic spirits, great ones with great thought-powers amassed.

“Michael!”

“Jibreel!”

“I command you! I compel you!”

An icy wind had picked up. Were we near a farm? There was a nasty smell on the wind.

“Great powers of good, forces of the universe!”

Good goddess! This woman was really going all out!

“We battle side by side! We combat the forces of evil!”

The wind whipped up, snapping our clothes tight against us.

“We will crush this evil that has manifested here! We will destroy it! Michael to the front of me! I command you to destroy this evil! Rebuke it! Crush it under your heel!”

Then, definitely taking the whole yelling thin up a notch, she bellowed “Eli eli, lama sabacthani! Destroy it!”

The wind snapped again. I felt a sudden void. The great nastiness was gone, whoever it had been. Leaving behind the fiery angelic presence … and a smaller, not quite cosmic sort of evil.

Because, you see, she summoned both the nastiness of the land and the spirits of Shaitan and Iblis. But she only banished the second one.

Crap, I thought as she began crooning. “Oh angels, great voice of the beyond, we thank you for your help! We bow to you, we sing your praises!”

The drumbeat stopped too suddenly. It felt like a lurch, like I was about to fall over.

Arms held out, drum aloft, she continued singing the praises of the ‘good’ who had defeated the ‘evil’. I felt quite sick. So much so that Paulette was suddenly helping me stand.

Completely clueless to my nausea, the madame waxed on and on. Then, lowering the drum, she finally noticed me. “Oh!”

I waved my fingers at her. “Just a little dizzy.”

She paused, looking like a deer in headlights. Then, shaking her head, she put down her drum and picked up her wand. Striking the hero-pose, she called out “Oh great beings! I release you all!”

Well, that was another giant energy vaccuum. Anyone who had been left behind/summoned but not used, left as fast as if their pants were on fire. Again, I felt dizzy.

Dimly, I heard her calling out to the circle that it was now open, and we were all basically free to go.

I plunked straight down, Paulette squeaking. Grumpy as could be, I set the unused candle down before me. There. This was over.

Drawing my knees to my chest, I decided that I needed a good grounding. That and maybe some space. Which, coincidentally, was not happening.

“Are you okay?”

“What’s the matter?”

“How do you feel?”

Legs swarmed around me, including the big skirts of the madame. Then, a pair of gray suit pants.

“Move,” said Sapphire in that cold tone that got shit done.

Suddenly there was space around me and I could breathe again. “Here,” Sapphire was crouching before me, holding out a granola bar and Crystal’s water bottle. “Take this.”

Behind Sapphire, the madame was waxing on to an avidly listening Crystal that “We just can’t predict who they will attack when you try and banish them.”

“Fuckin’ shit,” I muttered under my breath, scowling as I chowed down on the granola bar. I didn’t consider myself as a terribly sensitive soul, so, in my books, that ritual had been shit. Yeah, she’d gotten energy stirring. But in my opinion it was like calling ‘stirring the pot’ the same as making perfume. One stinks. One doesn’t. Point finale.

Still crouched before me, Sapphire smirked. “Need some more?” she asked, drawing another granola bar from her corgi’s harness pouches (which I hadn’t even noticed were there).

“No thanks,” I muttered savagely before taking a sip of water. Then I handed it back to her. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she said with a smile as she rose to her feet. She offered a hand, and I took it to get up.

“Promise me we’re done with the stupid rituals,” I muttered to Sapphire. She winked at me. Then, we turned and rejoined the group.

Grieving the Deaths in Nova Scotia as a Pagan

I feel mentally bulldozed in a strange way. For those who haven’t heard the news, us Canadians have just had a major shooting. The last one of this magnitude was a shooting aimed just against women at the Polytechnique school.

It’s one thing to hear of atrocities happening all over the world, and its always stranger when it’s closer to home. Furthermore, I’d like to point out to any American reader that shootings barely ever happen in Canada. When they do, they’re a big fucking deal. We mourn them seriously.

Anyways, this news leaves me feeling strangely – distant? Dissociated? Upset without really knowing why? Part of me has a knee-jerk reaction of ‘Oh, just another shooting in the world’, while the rest of me is very shocked and upset that this happened in my country. That innocent people were killed.

I’m majorly left wondering what to do with myself. Is it appropriate to sit down and write and just ignore the fact that we’ve had a mass murder? Is it appropriate to let this take over my life, when there are so many other deaths in the world?

Balance is key, I suppose, but I am no expert. I’ve heard there is going  to be a national vigil online sometime this Friday (I think). But, again, what would be appropriate to do? What is sensible, in a way caring for yourself without letting the grief take over, as well as honoring the dead of these senseless acts?

I would like to suggest, as a pagan and a polytheist, some ideas for self care and to care for the dead of this massacre.

  • Write a letter to your favorite deity, or a deity who specializes in helping the dead pass on (a psychopomp such as Anubis or Saint Michael), asking them to care for the dead and help them find peace after such horrific ends. Burn the letter to transmit it to your deity/spirit of choice.
  • Pray to an appropriate deity (Sekhmet? Bast? Ma’at? I’m not quite sure who would be in charge of purifying a soul. Perhaps a Buddhist tradition would have more specific deities for such a purpose.) for the spirit of the attacker to be purified so as to cause no further trouble as a spirit. You can see this as fire burning away the evil in their heart or the anger that may have caused them to commit such actions.
  • Light a candle with the intent of it lighting a way/ opening a channel for the dead to find their way. Again, you may consult or ask the aid of a psychopomp for aid in this.
  • Write a letter to the deceased in this tragedy and burn it for it to reach them. Offer them your help (within your own limits) and maybe even invite them to a small ritual with candles and a dumb supper. This could be a nice chance to let them talk to you, pour their grief out, and basically process their own death with you.

Remember to take care of yourself! Cleanse and purify your space with incense that gives off a solemn vibe (but nothing too cheerful). Acknowledge your grief, but set the intent that you will carry on in honor of them, not despite them.

If you do have any specific mourning practices in your tradition that you will be performing  to honor these deceased, I’d love to hear them!

 

candlelight candles
Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

How to Edit ~ Part 3

Alright, epically, you’ve written art. Cool. Good job. Now you’ve got to edit it.

Aughhhhh, no one wants to do that, but we’ve all got to do it. Especially us indie authors who have no editor friends. Also, even if you’re querying, it’s a good idea to edit your manuscript and polish it until your nerves are practically done before handing it out to anyone.

So how the hell does anyone edit something that they’ve written themselves? I’ve heard it said that it can’t be done, but again, I beg to fuckin’ differ.

Here’s how I approach editing: you want to read through the text and check for 1) ‘feel’ 2) technicalities 3) all the senses.

Now, I wrote those in order of importance. First, if your happy fairy tale suddenly has bugs bursting out of bodies, you’ve got a major problem, no matter your grammar. So first things first is to make sure that your ‘feel’ stays consistent, as much as you want it to.

Secondly, ‘Feel’ trumps grammar. If it’s part of your ‘feel’ for a character to speak like a sailor, then that sticks and grammar fucks off. If you have a character that talks like Yoda, then you keep it that way and forget about sentence structure. This is important, so I’ll repeat again: Feel trumps grammar.

So say you’ve read your chapter through and through, and the ‘feel’ is consistent. Then you move on to technicalities. Technicalities includes things like grammar, your character having the right color of hair throughout the entire story, and making sure that your bread is rising in the right direction (up and out) in your baking novel.

Also, this is the part where you make sure there are no gaping ‘plot holes’. If it helps, make a running chart or list of unfinished pointers and questions as you read the novel through. But you really want to make a point of tying them all in, without disturbing the ‘feel’.

You edit technicalities as long as they don’t interrupt the ‘Feel’. If they clash, you’ve got a major editing decision to make. If it’s part of the ‘feel’ of the story for your bread to not rise, then maybe you’ve got some researching to do as to why the bread isn’t rising and work that into the novel. Or maybe you’re writing a surreal novel? Either way, you want the ‘feel’ to work with your technicalities, not to clash. So work that out.

Third, and finally, and least important of all, you want to run through your novel and check if you satisfy all the senses. In my opinion, you’re going to want to immerse a reader by tickling all their senses, like sight, smell, taste, texture, and emotion.

So let’s go back to that apple and the knife. What does it feel like? Sharp? Crisp? What colors are they? Steely grey and bright red? What does it smell like? Sweet apples, I hope. What’s the emotion you’re trying to convey? Sadness, maybe?

Now, as I said, this is the last and least important. WHOAH! You’d think this’d be the most important, but it’s not. It’s even after grammar (and I hate grammar). Why, why, why? Because, if your ‘feel’ is already there and okay, not only should you already have a certain amount of senses covered, but you should already have chosen which sense you’ve covered.

If you start every paragraph by listing the senses, your writing is going to get dull fast. The point in checking this point is not to make sure they’re all always there, but that the right ones are at the right place. I’d say, on average, to aim for three to four senses to fill per scene. If you’re really setting a scene, aim for more. If you’re more spartan and want a ‘lighter’ feel, aim for less. That’s it.

Basically, that’s how you edit your novel. You can go nuts breaking down things and saying that you need to plot out the character’s love arc and double-check that it all makes ‘sense’ and whatnot, but really, I think that if you let your intuition reign while writing and editing and sticking to your ‘feel’, your story will turn out pretty good.

 

How to Write ~ Part 2

Writing! Oh, that mystical thing! How do we do it? People say there’s nothing to it, that it’s not magical, and I beg to differ.

Here’s the thing. Writing is, in itself, a craft. Much like knitting, it takes technique, practice, and experimenting with different techniques for someone to become fluent in it. But then what happens? You want to express something, and you create art.

See, a craft is meaningless, but it’s a gateway for the birth of art, which is meaningful.

So, you can have the world’s greatest idea, but without honing your craft first, you’re never going to be able to express that idea.

Alright, cool, we all want to make art. How do we do it?

If you’ve read the previous post, you now have an ‘idea’, and a ‘feel’. These are your precious nuggets of how you’re going to actually ‘write’.

Pretty much like knitting, writing is deceptively simple. You write. Duh. You stick words on paper/computer file. Wow, so artistic, you think.

But it’s not that simple. Writing, in my opinion, uses both the creative and logical parts of the brain, because it uses the logical side to write words, but the creative side to choose these words (I’m not a doctor here, this is just my theory okay?).

Now, here’s the thing. For me, there’s a ‘zone’ I get into when writing. It doesn’t feel like just sticking words on paper. Usually when I’m doing that, it turns out like crap. Stilted and blah. It isn’t art when I’m doing that. Why? I’d like to theorize that when I’m just sticking words onto paper, I’m not expressing the story, which is stored away in some spirit-bubble-dimension or what have you.

I like to think that good writing is like channeling a spirit, tapping into intuition. Something ‘clicks’ inside of you and the words flow. You get into the ‘feel’ and you intuitively choose the right words to create the art.

Alright, that’s all good and cool. We all want art, we all want ‘the magical flow’, so how do we get that?

Here’s another thing. It takes practice. Just like channeling (whether you believe in it or not), or even trance-work, you’re working on getting your brain to do a certain thing. Whether you’re taking an image/story bubble from within your mind or some spirit’s mind, you’re taking that story bubble/thoughtform and tapping into it, and then shooting it out your fingers onto the computer! Sort of. But you get the idea, don’t you?

One way I’ve found to express a story is to F&F. Forget the idea and Focus on the feel. Because unless you’re writing a textbook, the feel is what you’re immersing in. So, just for a moment, Forget about the ‘what’ and ‘how’. Forget all the technicalities and Focus on the ‘feel’. Think in images. Think in smells. Think (and here’s the real goal) in feelings. Express that feeling.

How the FUCK does one do that?

Well, let’s take get back to the apple and the knife cutting it. What ‘feeling’ does a knife give off, in this context? Is it destructive? Protective? A shield, a mental barrier, standing between an attacker and a defender? What color is it? What texture is it? Is it silver and glinting and sharply sparkling?

Sure, you can say that the knife is sharp and pointy. But if you transmit what it represents and the ‘feel’ of it in the story as a whole, you’re on to something.

Same goes for the apple, same goes for everything you write. Nothing in art is ever just an apple and a knife. It’s patriarchy versus matriarchy. It’s the industrial versus the farm. It’s steel against flesh. See where I’m going here? Everything can be so much more, and it’s this ‘so much more’ that you’re aiming for.

If you can do that, you’re well on your way to writing art.

Alright, so let’s talk concrete tips here.

Put music on that suits your theme. Are you writing rain and tragedy? Listen to rainy mood music. Put on incense that suits your intended ‘feel’. Heck, even get dressed up if it helps you. The point is: do anything that helps you get imitating that desired ‘feeling’. Once you’re in the mood imitating it, you can closer tap into the intended ‘feeling’.

Another tip that people say a lot is: write a lot. Write about anything and everything. Yeah, that’s great and all, but I’ve got another idea. Every day, try and write out your dreams.

Uh huh, not so easy, is it? Why? Because our dreams can sound silly and pointless, but when we were immersed in them, they carried so much ‘meaning’ and ‘feel’ to them. And that’s exactly what you’re wanting to get good at. If you can express the tragedy and terror of a nightmare, no matter the ridiculous premise of it, then you’re on to something.

Also, if you’re anything like me, you only half-remember your dreams. Writing these out and making them make sense is a great way to get used to tying ideas in together and ‘fill in the gaps’. This is also good memory practice, too.

Finally, dreams are connected to our intuition. I’m quite sure that writing out our dreams helps us tap into our subconscious or something like that. I think this could be mighty useful.

Now, I’m going to end these tips with one tip that I was told by a writing teacher, which I’ve honestly never tried but always thought was super cool: copy out another author’s work. Just that. Pick someone you want to write like, and copy out pages of their work.

If you struggle with getting a ‘feel’, this could be a way to gain one. The idea behind this is that you immerse into the ‘feel’ that the author created and, by copying it out, develop the mental pathways for those word choices. This will allow you to literally ‘think along those lines’ when trying to write your own works.

Ultimately, there is one final pointer I need to give you: -> Fuck It.

My best writing, my breakthroughs in tones, my great ideas, usually reveal themselves once I go ‘Fuck It!’ (with the exclamation mark) and just go with the flow and write whatever I want/feel for. It’s probably unorthodox, but I really stand by it. If you’re getting frustrated and feel like you’re reaching a breaking point, then just go ahead and break and see what happens next. Really, if art is what you’re aiming for, you’ve got to let the subconscious/mystical take over at some point.

How does one ‘Fuck It’? I don’t mean for anyone to get all violent and throw chairs at the walls. My ‘fuck it!’s are always quiet, internal affairs. I don’t lash out at anyone or start smoking or drinking or anything. In fact, – let it be known that I never write under influence of anything more than a light beer.

The art of ‘fuck it’ is really to just let go.  Let go of how you ‘think’ it should be, and just let it be it’s own thing. Really, that’s it. Stop thinking, and let the spirit move you. Let the story show itself to you instead of you creating it. Put your mind on the back burner and let the characters do their work.

It may sound like mystical mumbo jumbo, but that’s what works for me. I hope it works for you, too.

Thank you so much for reading my post! Do you feel like your writing is ‘channeling’/’tapping’ into something? Do you feel there is a mystical edge to the writing process? Let me know what you think!

As always, have a lovely day/evening. Much love to you all ❤