I draw water from the well of my life’s work, and create stories. — Mark Rubinstein

 

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+mystical+writing&qpvt=images+mystical+writing&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=4BCCC15274BE1C451C30FA264223425A665CFFCE&selectedIndex=32

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-rubinstein/writing-process_b_2707747.html?utm_hp_ref=books

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For me, writing begins with an almost dreamlike process. It’s as though my mind goes through some semi-conscious period where things from the past and present seem to coalesce and begin building upon themselves. Sometimes a thought fragment forms, only to fade the way some dreams dissolve as you’re awakening. At other times, an idea imbeds itself and develops with a clear forward trajectory.

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The novel’s story incorporates other aspects of my own and others’ experiences, coupled with large doses of imagination and fantasy. Like all fiction writers, I draw from the things I know well, and borrow heavily from life around me.

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I draw water from the well of my life’s work, and create stories.

A writer is someone who always has an eye open and an ear cocked. I am no exception.

Drawing from life is at the heart of my novels, although each one begins in its unique way.

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/whats-the-lesson-in-your-narrative-kare-anderson/

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+storytelling+matters&qpvt=images+storytelling+matters&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=37BB3C9022170801B7F7E2FDECB511E7E84CF133&selectedIndex=36

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+storytelling+matters&qpvt=images+storytelling+matters&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=7742C2F4BEDFE7A3EC6079CBE3AD5E830BF268CE&selectedIndex=40

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+storytelling+matters&qpvt=images+storytelling+matters&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=4710A307809738ED05718AEC5787B59C30E4290E&selectedIndex=32

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+storytelling+matters&qpvt=images+storytelling+matters&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=1BC1AF57025E64FA08078A08C0EDFFB7DCCD6F44&selectedIndex=63

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+storytelling+matters&qpvt=images+storytelling+matters&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=DFE274B57550858779B97A2DD4F197049A670484&selectedIndex=86

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+storytelling+matters&qpvt=images+storytelling+matters&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=26ACC963A673D7E9A7D0D1048F3F7BD267096EF2&selectedIndex=64

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kare-anderson/storytelling_b_3218982.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS%20for%20the%20Soul

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What incidents have become stories that shaped your life? One of Mario Cuomo’s recollections has stayed with me: “I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands work 15 and 16 hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example.”

Want to understand and share the incidents of your life in ways that make them meaningful to others?  Nothing rings more real than sharing the stories that mark turning points in your life.  From what we share out loud, we can learn what matters to us and to each other. Here are three ways for finding meaning and self-understanding through pivotal life moments and connecting more deeply with others as you share them.

1.   First, literally see what makes a great story stick. My favorite example is watching Wall-E and Toy Story screenwriter Andrew Stanton revealing “The Clues to a Great Story.”

2. Spontaneously act out scenes. Like jumping into the deep end of the pool to learn to swim, learning improv can be a fast way to literally feel incidents that resonate with you because of an underlying truth. TheatreSports has evolved in an elaborate set of charade-like improv games that Drew Carey popularized with his TV show, Whose Line Is It, Anyway? All over the world, chapters have sprung up. It’s a fast way to see parts of yourself through other’s eyes, especially with people you are just getting to know. Melinda Blau dubs them “consequential strangers.”

3.   Bring out others’ humanity at work with vignettes. Pull others into your purposeful narrative so they can see a role they want to play in the story you tell, suggests Peter Guber in Tell to Win. See how stories can boost participation and performance. Who knows? “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift,” wrote Erin Morgenstern in The Night Circus.

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http://aerogrammestudio.com/2013/03/12/wall-e-and-toy-story-screenwriter-reveals-the-clues-to-a-great-story/

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Last week we posted Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling, a list of 22 golden tips first tweeted by Pixar Story Artist Emma Coats.The article received a tremendous response and since then a number of people have mentioned to us this TED talk by Andrew Stanton.

Stanton was the writer for all three Toy Story movies, as well as being the writer/director for Wall-E, Finding Nemo and John Carter. In this captivating lecture Stanton talks about the early days of Pixar, storytelling without dialogue, and capturing a truth from your experiencing it.

Stanton also describes being taken at age five to see the Disney’s animated classic Bambi. Of this experience he says: that’s what I think the magic ingredient is, the secret sauce, is can you invoke wonder. Wonder is honest, it’s completely innocent. It can’t be artificially evoked. For me, there’s no greater ability than the gift of another human being giving you that feeling – to hold them still just for a brief moment in their day and have them surrender to wonder. When it’s tapped, the affirmation of being alive, it reaches you almost to a cellular level. And when an artist does that to another artist,it’s like you’re compelled to pass it on. It’s like a dormant command that suddenly is activated in you, like a call to Devil’s Tower. Do unto others what’s been done to you. The best stories infuse wonder.

Related post: The Story Spine: Pixar’s 4th Rule of Storytelling

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http://www.consequentialstrangers.com/about/

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Most of us walk through life interacting with people who skirt the edges of our social circles without realizing that they’re as important as our intimates.  They punctuate our days, but we take them for granted: our coffee person and car mechanic, our coworkers and fellow volunteers, a golf buddy, a teacher, and most of our Facebook “friends.”  They are all consequential strangers –- people who bring novelty and information into our lives, allow us to exercise different parts of ourselves, and open us up to new opportunities. They keep us healthy and are invaluable when we’re sick. They fuel innovation and propel social movements, and hasten the flow of new ideas. And they are vital in times of uncertainty.

In this unprecedented examination of “people who don’t seem to matter,” journalist Melinda Blau develops a concept sparked by the research of her collaborator, psychologist Karen L. Fingerman, Ph.D., who coined the term consequential strangers. Drawing as well from cutting-edge findings in social networking, psychology, sociology, marketing, and communication, and more than two hundred interviews with specialists and lay people, the book presents compelling stories of individuals and institutions, past and present. A rich portrait of our new social landscape—on and off the Internet—Consequential Strangers presents the science of casual connection and chronicles its surprising impact on business, creativity, the work environment, our physical and mental health, and the strength of our communities. Perhaps most important, the book inspires us to see all our relationships in a new light.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/kareanderson/2012/08/18/5-ways-storytelling-can-boost-participation-and-performance/#

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1. Sear Your Story in Their Minds with a Surprise at the End

Your side benefit in reading this story is that you’ve just experienced, first hand, the power of having a surprise at the end of your story. People are more likely to remember, and this is why.

UC Irvine neurobiologist, James McGaugh, found that rats, when given a stimulant, could learn faster how to get through a complex maze, but here’s the surprise. The rats that were given the stimulant right after the race, rather than right before running through it, were better at remembering how to get through the maze.

So, when you are attempting to learn something new, guess when you should have that cup of coffee? As Smith writes in Lead With a Story, “The purpose of a surprise at the end is to sear the entire story in your audience’s long-term memory.

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Memories don’t form instantly in the brain like a photograph. They form over a period of time shortly after the event happens – a process psychologists call memory consolidation.”

2. Leaders Boost Worker Initiative, Performance and Morale With Storie

“Rule books don’t govern behavior in any organization. Behavior is determined by what is rewarded or punished,” concludes Smith. “Employees cannot possibly break all the rules themselves. They learn through the story they hear about other people’s behavior getting rewarded or punished. Make sure the stories in your organization reinforce the behavior you want.”

3. Tell it So They Want to Re-tell it

And if you want to pull clients or friends into your story, crafting what Tell to Win author, Peter Guber, calls a purposeful narrative in which they can see playing a role, set up the situation in their mind’s eye, saving your surprise for the end of it. Or, as in the jury story, where you can multiply moments of memorability with two surprises: set up each situation briefly with the details, – such as the perspective of the main players, that will maximize the surprise of an unexpected outcome.

Most times you have only minutes to tell a vignette rather than a full-blown story. If you do that right the listener will ask questions or offer suggestions, re-shaping it so it makes sense for their exact situation, thus self-training to tell others, imbedding it deeper into their memory with each question, comment or other immediate action. Let your story go so they can make it their own and carry your story to others.

4. Use the C.A.R. That Can Drive Your Story Farther

To craft your vignette, include Smith’s elements of a C.A.R.:

Context: Where and when does the story happen? Provide sufficient specific details so the story makes sense and no more.

Action: What is the catalyst, first turning point, climax and final action towards resolution

Result: Why you told the story.

5. Vivid Characterizations are Key to Attracting Opportunities in Work and in Life

In this increasingly complex yet connected world, the capacity to tell the story that is most re-told about your product, service, business  — or yourself – is right up there with your need to keep honing your top talent and capacity to collaborate with people extremely unlike you., but you already know that.

For more practical insights on how to craft the most vivid characterization, read Jonah Sachs’ Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future, Annette Simmons’ Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins,  Robert Dickman and Richard Maxwell’s The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster and Win More Business, Steve Denning’s The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling and Peter Guber’s Tell to Win.

Then watch Toy Story filmmaker Andrew Stanton describe the clues to what makes a great story, where each sentence he speaks is like a stepping stone to the next stage of his story. Stanton exemplifies Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s sentiment,  “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

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Whoever most vividly characterizes a situation

usually determines how others view it,

discuss it and make decisions

about it.

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/writing-and-eventually-dying-a-good-death-expressing-sharing-love-to-the-end/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/sharing-grief-puts-a-healing-distance-between-us-and-the-pain-this-is-why-storytelling-matters/

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sharing grief puts a healing distance between us and the pain — this is why storytelling matters

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Share the suffering. The opportunity to tell the story of our suffering to a compassionate and skillful listener is helpful beyond measure. Simply in the telling and retelling, we begin to shift perspective, to put a healing distance between us and the pain.

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inspired by wordsmith Steven Kalas’ reasons for writing    –

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Art_is_expression_of_self_shared_with_the_world.html

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Art is expression of self shared with the world

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How did I learn to write?    Great teachers along the way, including but not limited to the Hayakawas & Nishiharas of my formative teen years.

Why do I write?   Some people keep a diary. Some people write in a journal. Some people keep meticulous photo albums, chronicling important moments, times, places and people.

I write about my observations and experiences.

If it moves me deeply, it will show up in my written words. If it opens my heart, it will show up in a written format. If it compels me in paradox, if it makes me tremble with humility and gratitude, if it mobilizes outrage or contempt, it will become a written composition. If I fall in love with you, if I despise you, if you bless me, if you hurt me badly enough, don’t be surprised if you end up in a written verse.

If it makes me hope, makes me ache, makes me cry, then I hand it to heaven, where it ricochets off eternity and pours itself into my Jung archetype named Shadow. Then it pours back out into the world.

Shadow has more than once saved my sanity. Maybe even my life.

I write to know myself better.

Here’s a paradox:  Real art is, for the true artist, an act of the purest selfishness, which, because it is pure selfishness, moves out into the world as extravagant generosity.

Selfishness? Yes. A true artist is never first a performer. He/she doesn’t do it for us. The artist is lost in self. For self. Obedient to a voice that cannot be ignored or denied. Art is near hedonism. A naked reveling. It includes suffering, yes, but even the agony is more a masochistic pleasure.

Generosity? Yes. The artist’s brazen and shameless desire to dig so deeply into self produces art that forces us to dig more deeply. To see ourselves more transparently. Art is a cosmic mirror.

Deciding to listen to my Shadow is deciding to see me naked. Though you won’t know that while you’re listening. If my art moves you, then you will see yourself naked. And that’s always a good thing. People come to an artist’s art as a voyeur. But what they spy on, in the end, is themselves.

Does that make me an exhibitionist? I can live with that. It’s a fair cop.

I’ve written much before which never made the trek into our current  internet era. The first one was about nostalgia of love lost. The last one is this composition here. But, as sage Steven Kalas says about his songwriting,  it’s Steven’s song No. 92 that probably would tell you the most about why I write for myself to share with you, the world.

My heroes have always been naked/ Warm in the clothes of their transparent identity/ Maybe we all should be naked/ With nothing to hide there’s no need to pretend not to see

But shame is the name of the master who must be obeyed/ And after a while we learn to like being a slave

The naked man/ He takes a stand/ He lets the people see/ We point and laugh/ We’re taken back/ But freedom lives in authenticity.

Like a lot of songs, it works on several levels at once. On the most personal level, it’s about my passion to live authentically. I don’t always get there, but I respect myself when I try.

On another level, it’s about my admiration of people who do live “nakedly.” Was John Lennon a card-carrying narcissist? Well of course. But I get why he posed naked with Yoko on the album cover of “Two Virgins.” He was trying to crawl out from under the deadly weight of Beatlemania, a fame he sought, created and then rightly abhorred.

And later, I was surprised to discover it’s a song about my spirituality. In Steven’s case, it’s a song about Jesus.

My heroes are those who live naked/ The man that you meet still the man who is there when you leave/ But brave are the ones who live naked/ Most people are hiding and naked is their enemy

Naked is a mirror in which there is no choice but to see/ So we break the mirror and then blame it for making us bleed

The naked man/ He takes a stand/ He lets the people see/ His naked fate/ Humiliate/ What people hate is authenticity.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-morley/writing-tips-6-ways_b_1591232.html#s1088091&title=Workshops_work

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We are born writers in the sense that we are born storytellers. Language is who we are to the world.  Our ability to tell our story with clarity and panache will make the difference between being heard and being ignored.

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We like to think that artistic genius, at least, feeds on solitude. It is not uncommon for new writers to worry that they will become less distinct, less original, if they spend too much time sharing ideas with their peers. But consider the case of Jorge Luis Borges. When he went to Europe as a young aspiring poet, he found his feet (and an education) in the tertulias of Madrid. Returning to his native city of Buenos Aires, he continued the habit. The almost nightly conversations he had with Adolfo Bioy Casares and other writers fed directly into his writing, and into theirs. If Latin America literature then went off in a direction not yet possible in Europe and North America, it is largely thanks to this unruly group of literary hybrids, who drew as much inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe and G.K. Chesterton as they did from Shakespeare and Verlaine. They gave each other the courage to be break conventions, question received ideas, and imagine the unimaginable.       – Maureen Freely
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Write, firmly believing that imagination is the quintessential self/the quintessential way of “knowing” the world. This imaginative knowing has the potential to dispel barriers that isolate individuals and communities. Exercising imaginative “knowing” allows, always, for a potentially transcendent narrative, that is trans-global, trans-cultural and speaks to our common humanity.    – Jewell Parker Rhodes
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http://www.pccs.va/index.php/en/news2/attualita/item/787-suspense-novelist-writes-about-people-finding-hope-redemption

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Koontz acknowledges he has “a very low boredom threshold” and wants to be entertained by what he writes.   He says he’s been asked, “I want you to write a book that’s very dark and very noir and everybody dies in the end and there’s no meaning to anything.” To which he replies, “You don’t need me to do that. It’s everywhere.”

“That’s not what I do,” Koontz said. “I write about people trying to find hope and redemption in their lives from suspense.”

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/i-will-die-a-good-death/

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I will die a good death — as my greatest hero Viktor Frankl said, “having been” is the surest kind of being, though it cannot inspire envy [life is full of suffering].

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I love and am loved.   I want to love and want to be loved.   I am true to my heart and I lead with my heart.    I will die a good death.    No one but me decides my attitude when I die.  

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Like basketball/football, I process my life in 4 quarters of 20 years each.    The first quarter was schooling in preparation for the workplace.    The second quarter was raising a family.   The third quarter was paying down the sundry bills which came with a life full of activity.   My final & fourth quarter consists of retirement & emotional preparation of inevitable death.    I will die a good death. 

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I always have an immutable enduring image of Wainaku Pua Lane’s Albert Pacheco Sr. as he rested his head in his lap while sitting on the shoreline boulder by our Wailuku river “singing bridge” astride our ubiquitous lighthouse  — contemplating his own death of terminal cancer while still in his middle ages.     Ohhh so sad.   For the first 3 quarters of my frenetic “frantic” life  — I never “got” [captured] the feel of mortality that coursed thru Albert’s soul as he engaged the end of his life.    Now I “get it.”    I will die a good death.   I am at peace with myself.     Albert is my hero.     Albert’s example is my example.     Die a good death.    No one owns my attitude with my death.   Life’s journey in deepest selfhood always in the end is walked alone. 

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/because-in-the-end-great-journeys-of-integrity-are-walked-alone-sage-steven-kalas/

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Albert walked wondrously to his inner peace.   Albert was the greatest husband, father, & friend.    And the humblest!     Albert is my hero.

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Hope Kiko Nakamura of downtown Hilo’s Kino’ole St. also is my hero.   A native of Japan, she is Amaterasu, my sun goddess who is kindness personified.    Nihonjin are very bigoted because of our racial homogeneity [master race psychomania], so to speak.    Not Hope Maki, who is the most loving person around — to people of all colors, social classes, manners, ages.     Also, I have never seen an older woman any unthinkably prettier than Hope Maki — yet she is our humblest person, singularly divine like Albert Pacheco.     Hope Maki and Albert Pacheco are my immortal heroes — forever inspiring — every generation should observe, study, and learn from these 2 sublime archetypes [greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation][like Jesus & like Scripture's Pericopes/Parables, my dynamic duo above exemplifies such confounding deepest Truths/frustration-reversal of conventional expectations -- huli'au/upside down outcomes but the righteous results, so to speak].      Their interior contemplative humblest nature undyingly are for the ages, and they inspire me to no end.   

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/in-praise-of-gautam-mukundas-extraordinary-study-indispensable-when-leaders-really-matter/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/sublime/

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Scripture as eternal true myth [according to a believer] per processing a la Jesus:

Turning common-sense ideas upside down, confounding the expectations of His audience: He/Jesus preached of “Heaven’s imperial rule” [traditionally translated as "Kingdom of God"] as being already present but unseen; He depicts God as a loving father; He squares shoulders with outsiders and criticizes insiders.   Christ evokes not simply an apocalyptic eschatology/end-time, but more critically a sapiential eschatology, which encourages all of God’s children to repair the world.     Since Christ lived and preached in an oral culture, scholars expect that short, memorable stories or phrases are more likely to be historical and factual.

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Irony:   Based on several important narrative parables [such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan], scholars decided that irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations were characteristic of Christ’s style.   Does a pericope/concise passage illustrate opposites or impossibilities?   If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic.   For example, “love your enemies.”     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar#Criteria_for_authenticity
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Not just the Parables but the  beatitudes feature the dramatic presentation and reversal of expectations that are characteristic of Christ.  The poor are accepted as constituting the primary recipients of the Good News and, therefore, as having an inherent capacity of understanding it better than anyone else. That’s pretty threatening for any comfortable Christian. For not only do we have to help the poor, not only do we have to advocate on their behalf, we also have to see them as perhaps understanding God better than we do!  But that’s not a new idea:  It goes back to Jesus. The poor, the sick and the outcast “got” him better than the wealthy did.   Perhaps because there was less standing between the poor and God.   Less stuff [pride].   Maybe that’s why Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, “You will have treasure in heaven, and follow me.” Like I said, pretty disturbing, then and now. It’s hardly “the opposite of the Gospel,” as ousted Fox News pundit Glenn Beck said.      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-james-martin-sj/glenn-beck-vs-christ-the-_b_698359.html

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On real time forgiveness, note the instance of the man who accidentally spills a bowl of  chicken soup on another man.   The other man is aghast, then lets out the amazing Grace of a punchline   –  “Well, at least I love the comforting aroma of chicken soup!!”   Wow!!

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Jesus always embraced the reproached, the outcasts, of society, knowing that these imperfect ones had a closer affinity with God, more so than the overproud sentients full of contemptuous opinions and

scathing comments vs. others. To Jesus, imperfection is beautiful, as we grow in God’s Holiness. His Holiness, is not outcome dependent for us on earth.

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An interior contemplative “soul” is valued a la Albert, Hope Kiko [& young Kepola Lee in my article on the greatest of leaders --http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/in-praise-of-gautam-mukundas-extraordinary-study-indispensable-when-leaders-really-matter/],   and of course, a la Jesus [or ascetic Buddha or Allah,  for that matter]  –

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my mythic hero Frankie Starlight [Alan Pentony] dares to reach for the stars

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV1EYBnPMEY

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Alan Pentony [with Anne Parillaud]

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Starlight

Plot

Frank Bois writes a successful first novel and finds himself looking back over his life. His mother Bernadette (Parillaud) was a French woman who, after the death of her friends and family in World War II, hid herself aboard an Allied war ship heading to Ireland, where she exchanged sexual favors for silence among the soldiers who found her on board. A nice customs agent, Jack Kelly (Byrne), allowed Bernadette to enter Ireland illegally, and they soon became a couple lovers, even though she was already pregnant from one of the soldiers from the ship.

Bernadette soon gave birth to young Frankie (Pentony), who suffers from dwarfism. As he grew older, Frankie develops romantic feelings for Jack’s daughter Emma (Cates), who does not share his feelings, while Jack teaches astronomy to Frankie. Eventually, Bernadette meets Terry Klout (Dillon), an American soldier she had met on the war ship, who offers to marry her. Bernadette and Frankie go with Terry to his home in Texas, but both mother and son feel like they don’t belong there, so they return to the Irish home they loved. An older Bernadette eventually committed suicide, and Frank used his life as source material for his writing.

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Empathy means literally “to enter the pathos.”    

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To enter the pathos is to surrender to all that is tragic, absurd, lost, despairing, meaningless. The word “pathos” is not a derision; it’s an observation.

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Compassion means literally “to suffer with.”

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We bandy these words about too easily. It’s not all that frequently we find people who will really do what are implied in those words. I cherish the people I do find.

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I no longer lift bread and wine. I lift broken, poured out people.   Folks like myself.    My meaning in life is to help others find their meaning.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/culture-s-approach-to-suffering-only-prolongs-pain-129608658.html

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-watt/why-we-write_b_2411000.html

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Why We Write

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By approaching our writing from this perspective we take our thumb off the scale, and in doing so make conscious what was previously unconscious.

And that is the goal of story: to make meaning out of a set of events.

Growth is painful. To make a choice involves discomfort, because it demands that we take responsibility. But it also means that we get to live in reality. To create from a place of fantasy, of groundlessness, is an escape — which is different than losing ourselves in our work by shedding our ego for a deeper connection to our humanity.

Why we write is more important than what we write because our reason for writing influences the content of our work. It is important to remember that we don’t have to do this. The world is not in a rush for more books. There are more great works of fiction, poetry, memoir, history and pumpkin soup recipes than we will ever have time to consume.

If we’re going to write, it is because we have a desire to express ourselves, even if we don’t quite understand what we wish to say. It might just be an inner yearning, but by making the choice to engage in the process rather than the result, our work has a chance to live. In expressing ourselves, we make what we write essential, if only to ourselves, and by beginning from this place, it has a chance to affect the world.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-goeman/faitheist-social-change-through-storytelling_b_2382772.html

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‘Faitheist’: Social Change Through Storytelling

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America is diverse. However, this diversity occurs in safe, isolated pockets that are stagnant and unengaged with one another. Diana Eck, religious scholar and founder of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, notes that diversity is nothing to be proud of. Diversity is the description of a community, like Tufts or America, where people of different beliefs or backgrounds happen to be in the same location. Pluralism, rather, is the “active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.” It is this engagement that breaks down barriers and guards against prejudice. If we want to make pluralism, rather than diversity, a descriptive fact of our community, we need emissaries to navigate cultural boundaries.

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We need to invite others inside our communities and show them what we value. And we need storytellers.

“Faitheist” works to end this ideological segregation. Chris humanizes atheism by sharing his life and his values –

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Chris aims to end the cycle of isolation and tribalism by encouraging others to contribute their own story to our collective narrative.

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The more we get to know each other, the more our prejudices will dissolve.

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Toward the end of the book, he notes: “The moment I shared my story as a secularist, others felt more comfortable sharing their own.”

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“Faitheist” isn’t just a memoir; it’s a continuation of the biographical heritage established by “Roots”, “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Hiroshima” —

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the books that informed Chris about the radical depths of human suffering and inspired his dedication to justice —

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but it is also the predecessor to a new generation of compassionate voices articulating their beliefs while serving humanity.

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Chris’ model of interfaith engagement and storytelling will, I believe, make my university and my country better places —

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places where diversity actually means something.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wray-herbert/who-am-i-the-heroes-of-ou_b_2497839.html

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Who Am I? The Heroes of Our Minds

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One of my guilty pleasures is the TV show Ice Road Truckers, which tells the stories of the heavy haulers who deliver vital supplies to remote Arctic territories of Alaska and Canada. In just two months each year, these truckers make more than 10,000 runs over hundreds of miles of frozen lakes, known as ice roads. We get to share in the treacherous drives — and just as important, the personal travails — of the veteran Hugh “The Polar Bear” Rowland, the brash tattooed Rick Yemm, the cold-hating rookie T.J. Wilcox, and former school bus driver and motocross champ Lisa Kelly, one of the rare women to break into this man’s world.

I’m not alone in this fascination. Millions of viewers have tuned into every episode of Ice Road Truckers since its premiere in 2007. And if hazardous driving is not your cup of Joe, how about Ax Men or Dance Moms, Chef School or Bikini Barbershop, Sister Wives or Biggest Loser? Reality TV dominates small-screen viewing these days. Viewers have literally hundreds of choices in vicarious viewing every day, 24 hours a day. And so what if they’re not exactly real.

What explains this trend? Well, it’s in part simple economics. These shows are cheap to make. But it’s more than that. There is something compelling about people’s stories, something that taps into a deep human need for narrative. The pull of Deadliest Catch and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo can really be traced back to ancient story telling traditions, which exist in every world culture. We see parts of ourselves in these modern-day folk tales, just as we construct stories about our own personal realities.

Psychological scientists have in recent years begun to examine this deep human yearning for story — in particular our need to create a coherent narrative identity. They have been using narrative identity as both an indicator of psychological health and a possible tool for enhancing well-being. Much of this work has been done by Northwestern University’s Dan McAdams and Western Washington University’s Kate McLean, who describe their and others’ research in a forthcoming issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

We all construct a coherent narrative identity, according to the emerging theory, from the accumulated particulars of our autobiographies as well as our envisioned goals. We internalize this story over time, and use it to convey to ourselves and others who we are, where we came from, and where we think we’re heading. Consider the example of redemption. McAdams and other scientists have been asking people to narrate scenes and extended stories from their past, and then they code the accounts for key ideas like redemption and self-determination and community. They have found that people who include themes of redemption in their stories — a marked transition from bad to good — are less focused on themselves and more focused on community and the future. They’re more mature emotionally.

This is just one example of how people make narrative sense of the suffering in their lives. Others have studied how people narrate life challenges, such as a painful divorce or a child’s illness, and they have found that those who produce detailed accounts of loss are better adapted psychologically. Their narratives often strike themes of growth and learning and transformation. Importantly, the stories of the well-adapted have endings, positive resolutions of bad experiences.

Psychotherapy is largely about personal narratives. Therapists help their clients to “re-story” their lives by finding more positive narratives for unhappy experiences. Indeed, when scientists asked former psychotherapy patients to describe how they remembered their therapeutic experience, the healthier ones told heroic stories, tales in which they bravely battled their symptoms and emerged victorious. This narrative theme of personal control was also and by far the best predictor of therapeutic success: As patients’ stories increasingly emphasized self-determination, these patients’ symptoms abated and their health improved. The stories themselves created an identity that was mature and well-adjusted.

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/if-were-going-to-write-it-is-because-we-have-a-desire-to-express-ourselves-even-if-we-dont-quite-understand-what-we-wish-to-say-it-might-just-be-an-inner-yearning-but-by-making-t/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/dont-you-just-love-a-cogent-argument/

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Writing is simplicity and contentment    –

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Playing_with_words_is_fun_as_well_as_meaningful.html

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So, I have come up with three questions. First, why do you write? Second, what inspires you? Third, what do you do to overcome “writers’ block”? — B.F., San Francisco

Why do I write? I write for the same reason people ride roller coasters: It’s a rush. A flow. Movement and rhythm. It’s sensory. Aesthetic.

Words, for me, are like being 8 years old and having a huge bag of Legos. Every day my dictionary contains the same English words, just like every day the bag contains the same Legos. But today I have the chance to assemble them differently! And that’s fun for me.

Why do I write? I write because I love words. I hate jargon, but I love words. Yes, there are a lot of different ways to talk, but words matter.

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The right word can help us apprehend our lives in deeper, more intentional and more meaningful ways.

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There’s a reason the Hebrew verb dabar can mean either “to say” or “to do.” The Hebrew worldview speaks to the power of words: “And God said (emphasis mine), ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

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Words have a creative force. Until we say “I love you,” there will be something about love that does not yet exist.

Am I a ‘word snob’? Oh, maybe. OK, probably. Dammit, yes! But I don’t think my demeanor is snobbish. More relentless and passionate.

I admire excellence and precision with language. I’m a harsh critic of the way American pop culture lazily conscripts the English language willy-nilly.

Americans tend to think of this — when they think about it at all — as another entitled “freedom.” A creative evolving of language. Most of the time it’s exactly the opposite. We broaden, distort and thereby cheapen the meaning of important words. This undermines meaningful discourse.

In the end, it’s worse than merely me not understanding what you mean to be saying; you no longer can accurately apprehend your own experience with anything like clarity and meaning.

For me, there is only one dictionary: The English Oxford Dictionary. Why? Because it alone is willing to guard the power and meaning of the English lexicon.

If I step out on my front porch, and shout “Labeedoowitz” loudly enough, the word “labeedoowitz” will show up in the next printing of the Rand McNally Dictionary.

OK, that’s hyperbole. But, I swear, coin the word “labeedoowitz” in a hit Broadway musical, and it will indeed be automatically included in the dictionary your son and daughter take to college.

I want to chase people to the dictionary. Regularly. I don’t apologize for using important words when just the right word matters.

I love it when I hear a new word. I interrupt people, right there on the spot. I say, “Ooh, I don’t know that word!” That’s a rush for me. A delicious feeling in my brain.

Why do I write? I write because I’m a compulsive communicator who loves to think out loud. Critical thinking turns me on. I like building an argument the way little boys like Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets.

I even have fun when the argument collapses. My best friends will tell you that I flat out love being wrong. Yep, when someone puts a finger clearly and accurately on the flaw in my argument, my brain stem hums as if I’d just bitten into a vanilla creme chocolate. If your argument can derail my argument, then I’m like a little kid with a new toy! I’ll race back home with your argument. Take it apart. Put it back together. Play with it. Integrate into my worldview, now changed.

Bring me a good argument, and I’ll ask you to marry me. (Uh, metaphorically speaking. I am so off the market.)

What inspires me? Life. Love. Tragedy. Suffering. Redemption. Evil. Beneficence. Truth. Beauty. Moral dilemmas. Mystery. The human journey inspires me, in virtually any form or circumstance.

What do I do to overcome “writers’ block”? Two things. First, I surround myself with deadlines imposed by others in authority over me. I’m inherently lazy. Not much of a self-starter. Without deadlines, I tend to sit around congratulating myself for thinking about all the brilliant things I could write. The thing that best “jump starts” my most creative self is the high expectations of others, especially if I have contractual obligations with them.

Second, I overcome “writers’ block” by writing. It’s like pumping the pump handle on a reluctant well. At some point I stop saying, “When I get a worthy idea, I’ll start writing.” No, I just sit down and start banging the keys, until a worthy idea shows up.

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http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/01/08/f-scott-fitzgerld-on-writing/

F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Secret of Great Writing

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What is the secret of great writing? For David Foster Wallace, it was about fun. For Henry Miller, about discovery. Susan Sontag saw it as self-exploration. Many literary greats anchored it to their daily routines. And yet, the answer remains elusive and ever-changing.

In the fall of 1938, Radcliffe College sophomore Frances Turnbull sent her latest short story to family friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. His response, found in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters (UK; public library) — the same volume that gave us Fitzgerald’s heartwarming fatherly advice and his brilliantly acerbic response to hate mail — echoes Anaïs Nin’s insistence upon the importance of emotional investment in writing and offers some uncompromisingly honest advice on essence of great writing:

November 9, 1938

Dear Frances:

I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming — the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.

That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is ‘nice’ is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the ‘works.’ You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.

In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,

Your old friend,

F. Scott Fitzgerald

P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent — which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.

Two years prior, in another letter to his fifteen-year-old daughter Scottie upon her enrollment in high school, Fitzgerald offered more wisdom on the promise and perils of writing:

Grove Park Inn Asheville, N.C. October 20, 1936

Dearest Scottina:

[…]

Don’t be a bit discouraged about your story not being tops. At the same time, I am not going to encourage you about it, because, after all, if you want to get into the big time, you have to have your own fences to jump and learn from experience. Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one. If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.

Let me preach again for one moment: I mean that what you have felt and thought will by itself invent a new style so that when people talk about style they are always a little astonished at the newness of it, because they think that is only style that they are talking about, when what they are talking about is the attempt to express a new idea with such force that it will have the originality of the thought. It is an awfully lonesome business, and as you know, I never wanted you to go into it, but if you are going into it at all I want you to go into it knowing the sort of things that took me years to learn.

[…]

Nothing any good isn’t hard, and you know you have never been brought up soft, or are you quitting on me suddenly? Darling, you know I love you, and I expect you to live up absolutely to what I laid out for you in the beginning.

Scott

For more wisdom on the writing life, see Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing, Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 guidelines for a great story, David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, Neil Gaiman’s 8 rules, Margaret Atwood’s 10 practical tips, and Susan Sontag’s synthesized learnings.

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/i-write-to-live-authentically-having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-per-great-sage-viktor-frankl/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/all-those-moments-of-life-will-be-lost-in-time-like-tears-in-the-rain-time-to-for-me-time-to-deal-with-myself-alone/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/christina-patterson-the-novice-poet-will-try-and-express-feelings-they-already-know-they-have-but-an-experienced-poet-is-one-who-knows-that-a-poem-is-only-a-true-poem-if-it-reveals-what-you-didn/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/no-one-can-take-away-ones-own-attitude-to-live-authentically-passionately-in-praise-of-roberto-benignis-15th-anniversary-movie-life-is-beautiful/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/getting-over-having-been-dumped-by-the-one-you-want-is-a-long-difficult-process-getting-dumped-does-not-dump-your-self-respect-attitude/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/reconciliation-formula-sage-steven-kalas/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/an-ennobling-sufferance-living-life-to-the-fullest/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/true-faith-is-a-context-for-suffering-sage-steven-kalas/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/the-choice-is-not-whether-to-have-or-not-have-a-worldview-in-which-you-place-faith-the-only-choice-is-whether-we-are-willing-to-choose-with-intention-clarity-commitment-sage-steven-kala/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/having-been-is-the-surest-kind-of-being-extraordinary-sage-viktor-frankl-only-then-through-the-power-of-using-the-past-for-living-and-making-history-out-of-what-has-happened-does-a-pe/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/in-some-ways-suffering-ceases-to-be-suffering-at-the-moment-it-finds-a-meaning-such-as-the-meaning-of-a-sacrifice-life-is-never-made-unbearable-by-circumstances-but-only-by-lack-of-meaning-and-pur/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/surrender-yes-what-is-demanded-of-man-is-not-as-some-existential-philosophers-teach-to-endure-the-meaninglessness-of-life-but-rather-to-bear-rationally-his-incapacity-to-grasp-its/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/society-blurs-the-decisive-difference-between-being-valuable-in-the-sense-of-dignity-and-being-valuable-in-the-sense-of-usefulness-sage-viktor-frankl/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/dostoevski-said-once-there-is-only-one-thing-i-dread-not-to-be-worthy-of-my-sufferings-sage-viktor-frankl/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/what-is-to-give-light-must-endure-burning-sage-viktor-frankl-in-tribute-to-connie-francis/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/the-paradox-of-authenticity-a-conscious-commitment-to-your-peace-whether-its-i-or-not-i/

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http://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/faith-is-consequential-but-it-is-not-about-immortality-faith-is-about-finding-peace-within-oneself/

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