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All writing is telling a story.  We tell stories about people.  Whether it’s an aging rock star in a parallel universe, the only fertile man left on Earth, or a girl who’s actually 300 years old.

Even when we’re writing about green energy, it’s a story of how that affects people’s lives.  There’s a story of fiscal realities in the experiences of a CFO at a corporate meeting.  If we’re selling a product or service, we’re telling a story about the benefits it brings to someone.

Stories are an excellent way to teach and illustrate a point.  There’s nothing quite like touching someone where they live.  When we tell engaging stories, we reach others on a level where they can say, “Yes, I see what you’re saying.”  Stories evoke pictures, allowing others to see what the writer sees, from the perspective of their own experience.

We tell ourselves stories all the time. When we exclaim, “Oh, I’ve never been any good at that,” we are just as much telling a story as I’m this age, have this job and come from this place.  I recently read stories about the Pioneer Women and what their lives were like. The stories their lives had to tell them.  What are our lives talking about today? What are the stories we tell ourselves?

I’m talking about the constant commentary.  Woody Allen wrote in his brilliant film, “Annie Hall,” in a scene at a party with the literary crowd. Woody’s character, Alvy Singer says to his then-wife, “I had heard that Commentary and Dissent had merged and formed ‘Dysentery.’”  Susan Jeffers called it the Chatterbox.  It’s that spewing of thoughts around how this one is that and that one is this. Judgements, gossip and evaluations of everything we’ve done or haven’t done, everything everyone else does or doesn’t.  Interspersed with that is the flotsam and jetsam of random thoughts, like to-do lists.  Emotions bubble up to sometimes yell at us (or someone else). Doubts materialize around whether we can or cannot do this because of this or that thing which happened before.  Doesn’t this add up to a story we’re telling ourselves? There are a million stories in The Naked City.  In a grand way this stream of consciousness story we tell ourselves everyday defines who we are.  We become the stories we tell about ourselves.

Don Miquel Ruiz wrote a wise book called “The Four Agreements.”  In it he talked about how we agree to buy into a belief system, a way of thinking, about ourselves, our community, our planet.  He explained, “The belief system is like a Book of Law that rules our mind.  Without question, whatever is in that Book of Law, is our truth.  We base all of our judgements according to the Book of Law, even if these judgements go against our own inner nature.”  You may always come from a certain place, your race and heritage may not change, but you can always change what you believe by changing the stories you tell about yourself in your Book of Law.

I believe in affirmations.  If you tell yourself a story about how you can often enough, with enough belief, you can.  I think I can, I think I can, I know, I know I will.  Energy and motivation can be had by telling yourself a certain story. There are those who have performed healings, done what couldn’t be done, overcome insurmountable obstacles, because they told themselves they could.  Whether it’s true or not, by the way.  It’s quite astonishing the things we can make ourselves do, simply by telling ourselves a good story.

The troublesome stories are the ones that don’t allow us to do what we long to do. The ones that scream we can’t from the Book of Law.  We need to find ways to break out of those laws.  Stories are powerful.  It’s easy to become attached to them coming out the way we want them to. There’s a real art to being able to move out of restricting beliefs, let go of the outcome, the ending of your story and allow it to take the shape it wants.

A story, really any good story, is about someone.  I suppose that Someone could just as easily be a robot, a talking Mantis, a zombie, or anything else my more richly imaginative writer colleagues might conjure up.  At the end of the day, it is always about a person behind whatever costume is put on.

When writing hard-as-reality non-fiction, we are always writing about Someone. Even if the story is about a proposed dump site in your community, it comes down to a person (or persons) who are making it happen and/or being affected by it.

I’ve found this is also so in job searching (or at least that’s my theory, pre-landing). It’s about people.  Strictly speaking I’d say, whether it’s a job, an association or group, a small business or corporation, a piece of information, a resource you are seeking . . .  at the end of the line you will need to speak a person. One-on-one, person-to-person, leads to another, that leads to another.  And one can hope, to whatever you need.

And so it goes with a story.  You sketch together the stories of each person. The more people you include, (or the more deeply you draw them), the more well-rounded your story and fuller your outcome.  The story itself unfolds from what each Someone says and does, how this person relates to the people and situations around him or her.

In “Conversations with God, Book 1,” we are told that relationship is our greatest gift from God. It might well be our greatest asset, not only for personal and spiritual growth, but also as writers.

Relationship allows us insight into how we are operating, learning more about our own and others’ motivations.  These things that make us all tick are the stuff  writers use in Character building.  After all, how we choose to relate to each other and everything around us, defines our character – who we are and what we believe. This kind of understanding can lead us to a deeper feeling of unity with all beings.

So whether the person is fictional or real, whether we are developing a character in our minds, or dealing with one on this plane, we can cull amazing insight through our relationship to others.

I feel blessed that I can do a variety of writing styles.  For a living, I write for business.  Marketing, technical, and content.  Which is, if I may say so myself, a nice range.

But I also really love writing from my heart for this Blog and some of my other projects like the book I’m working on called “Love Letters From Your Soul.”  I hope someday to publish a commercial personal/spiritual growth book.

Fiction probably brings me the most joy and delight.  I love to write rock fiction, or what I like to refer to as romance and passion in the exciting (and now relatively extinct) music business.  With, I always hope, a bit of growth mixed in.

I have to admit, more often than not, I am reading a spiritual/personal growth book.  I do get  into fiction now and again, though. I count myself as a Harry Potter devotee.  And I can gobble up books on Arthurian legend.  Not averse to a good cozy mystery either.  I have seen more than my share of movies and amazing films.  Soap operas have been my secret pleasure for years.  And am proud to count many fine story tellers among my close friends.  So I do know a thing or two about story.

For many years I held the notion that nonfiction expands and fiction is merely an escape.  But I am changing my mind about that.  I’m coming to see that fiction plays an important role in our growth as human beings.

Fiction, when done right, gives an intimate views into the minds and hearts of others.  We feel a connection with well crafted characters.  We see parts of ourselves acting through the story. And parts of others we know.  We may not like them all, but we can come to understand a little more about why they do the things they do. Good fiction makes clear the character’s motivation.  If you don’t buy that you’re unlikely to enjoy the story.  It’s like Science Fiction:  If they give you a good basis for belief, you will follow a good writer just about anywhere out there.

It is a study in understanding.  In the best cases, it can open us up to the experience of being the same. Seeing how we all share the same DNA and our motivated by many of the same things.  Even someone who appears to lead a live very different from ours.  It creates bridges into other worlds.  And has done so long before the Internet.

Story is a very powerful tool for learning, history, growth and motivation.  At the heart of all stories is a person, an entity, a living, breathing creature.  Relationship and struggle are the playthings of story, reflecting life as we know it.

At its best good fiction gives us a view of oneness. It talks of unity and how we are all the same.  The more we can feel that the better for all of us (for the one of us.)

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a review.  In order to counteract the commuting blues, I’ve been listening to Harry Potter books.

Up until this point I had only seen the movies. I enjoyed them very much, but I like all that magic and sorcery stuff.  The movies where a wonderful escape and better than average entertainment. But truthfully, I’m not sure I understood what all the fuss was about.  Friends and family alike, who had read the books. looked down their noses at me for only seeing it through the movies.

As a side note, let me say that the gentleman who reads the books for the audio version is marvelous, doing voices for everyone.  It brings it alive in a way that silent reading never could. The voices echo in my head long after the CD has been tucked away.

But it is the story of Harry Potter, along with the characters that make it so special.  After listening to the first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” I went back to the movie.  What I saw shocked me.  As I said, I had gotten a kick out of it the first time. But this time I noticed how lightly the characters were sketched. How could anyone know who these people were?  I couldn’t believe I could’ve followed the story when great swatches were left out and new unnecessary scenes put in. When Dumbledore gave Hermione 50 points for using logic, why didn’t my logic ask. “Where did she do that?”  A small scene that probably could’ve been done without much fuss.  Where Hermione reads the instructions  and figures out which bottle isn’t poisonous, without using magic.  Done. Explained.  I know there are restraints in film making.  It really would not have made any sense to go through Uncle Vernon Dursley’s thinking that the book begins with. It’s nearly impossible to get the full range of the characters or scenes, I know that.  I just couldn’t believe how light it all felt.  They were so right.

Back to the book, I believe that story first, character second is what makes this so memorable. The story has great appeal for children, but also for adults. Perhaps the children miss some of the more subtle aspects, but not enough to detract from the adventure. It’s so wonderful and magical to go through their years at school, one by one, slowly watching as events from the past unfold, influence and crack open the present.

It’s a story with heart, so that even if you’ve never played “Quidditch” or taken a potions class, you can find a place to relate.  Harry’s longing to know his parents and find out who he is touches all hearts, whether a wizard or not.

The characters are a delicious variety of good guys, bad guys, friends and foes.  Professor Snape who seems so sinister, lurking around, wishing he could be the Defense Against the Black Arts teacher, secretly helping Harry.  Hagrid, big and bumbling, with such a soft inside. How can you not love someone who owns a vicious, three headed monster dog and calls him Fluffy? Harry himself is multi-dimensional character: half whining pedestrian kid and half great wizard with courage and cunning.  Dumbledore, the greatest head master in school history, one of the greatest wizards ever has a sparkle in his eyes and always speaks calmly. Each character is carefully drawn out.

A mark of a great writer is the details. And JK Rowling has given us so many palpable ones.  I love the way she marks the seasons with bits about the weather. The devices she uses to move the arc along shows you are in the hands of a master storyteller. The things she chooses make the story come alive and sparkle, down to the chocolate frogs with moving pictures of great wizards and witches for collecting and trading.

I am completely absorbed and don’t care a whit about the traffic!



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