Sunday, October 5, 2014

Journaling and Journeying

The Shopkeeper and the Traveler, was born as the result of a dream journal that I started keeping after experiencing several vivid and bizarre dreams, as well as some rather interesting guided meditations. Keeping a record of these imaginings was my way to attempt an interpretation of what my subconscious surely must have been hiding. I felt certain that there had to be some irrational, Freudian explanation for the content of my dreams but soon concluded that my subconscious was just trying to tell me that my life was boring and I needed to have a little fun. After reading through my journal one day, I toyed with the idea of taking some of the entries and turning them into short stories. Then I put the journal away and didn’t think much of it again for a few years.
When my son was getting ready to graduate from high school, his career goals became a topic we discussed frequently. One industry always ended up at the top of his list of preferences: film. So I researched the film industry, looked into the various schools, and bought the special edition, director’s cut, extended versions of our favorite movie trilogies, The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.

I knew there had to be something to how these great movie makers managed to create the entertainment phenomena that are Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. I wondered what that was and how my son could aspire to such greatness. The more information I found, the more I wanted. Before I realized it, I had been sucked into their world, the world of creating worlds.
We watched every last minute of the bonus features that told of what went into making the movies, from makeup, to costumes, to battle scene choreography, to scripts, etc. Then I bought the big picture books that showed conceptual art and more details about the background of the characters and props. I couldn’t get enough information about how J.R.R. Tolkien and George Lucas and Peter Jackson mastered their work. What made them decide to tell these stories? Why did they do it the way they did? What made them so great?

Eventually, I went back to my dream journal and wondered if I could do the same thing. I already had a general story line in mind, one that was loosely based on ancient Celtic and Scandinavian cultures and their mythologies. I knew that this story would definitely be about time travel and other worlds. I let the movie trilogies inspire me to create a world so believable that I would want to go there if it were possible.
Before I even put it down on paper, I thought up characters and did some extensive research into the meanings of the various names. I wanted the people in my stories to have names that matched their personalities and characteristics. Then I did numerological workups on each name to make sure that it resonated to the appropriate energies. Excessive? Definitely. Did it work? Without a doubt. I’m not sure that George Lucas approached his character names in this manner, but I decided that this was going to be how I did it.

After I figured out who I wanted the main characters to be and worked them into the story line, I set out to create their unique world, their culture, their beliefs, their government, and their economy. The process soon became addictive. I felt obsessed with making sure I had thought of everything. What do the buildings look like? What’s their mythology? Do they have legends and traditions and festivals? The more complicated my story became, the more characters I needed to support it, which led to more research on their names and how they would relate to the characters I had already created. The process of writing this story became more exhilarating than the story itself, and I started to wonder why I had waited so long to write my first novel.
I have always enjoyed writing and have written poetry and short stories in passing, but I have never pursued it as a means to making a living because I believed I wouldn’t be successful. Why did I believe this? One person told me that being a writer was not a “real” job, one that could pay the bills. What if I had chosen not to believe that person? I might have written my first novel twenty years earlier instead of spending so much time merely tolerating unsatisfying “real” jobs.

How many people listen to that one negative voice out of the crowds of positive and supportive people? That one voice that tells you that you’re not good enough, that you’ll never make it, or that you don’t have what it takes. It’s a shame that we tend to limit ourselves this way and give up on the greatness that we all have within us to make a difference.
Through my efforts to help my son determine what he wanted to do with his life, I discovered what I wanted to do with mine . . . finally. After writing my story, I realized that I want to write more than I want to do anything else. It doesn’t matter to me if a few people (or even more than that) don’t think I am a good writer. I am able, I can learn, I can grow, and most of all, I enjoy it. Those folks who would rather see me fail than succeed don’t matter to me. There will always be someone I can reach with my words, someone who wants to hear what I have to say, and someone who enjoys my stories. Besides writing for my own enjoyment, those are the people for whom I write.
During this self-discovery process, I had also attended a few seminars about achieving goals. One thing soon became quite apparent: other than earning enough money to pay the bills and becoming a homeowner, I really had no tangible goals. I had no clue how to get to where I wanted to be. I suddenly felt quite disempowered. However, by writing this story, I realized that by doing something I enjoyed, I was more focused than I had ever been in my entire life. Suddenly, I felt like I could do anything. I wanted to share that liberating feeling of empowerment with others and encourage them to realize their full potential as well.
So my mission became to inspire people, specifically women, to believe in themselves and to believe that everyone is empowered to live a fulfilling life. Maybe they can even improve a small piece of this big world, for themselves and others, as well as for future generations. It’s my desire to create strong female characters in my stories as positive role models, characters who young women can respect and emulate.

After editing and rewriting the story, I saw that my new philosophy for life was shining through between the lines. Remember, I didn’t sit down at my computer one day after a miraculous epiphany and decide to send a message out to the world. My original intention was not to make a statement with my story at all; however, to my amazement, I have found that the story does just that and actually supports my mission:

  • Above all, if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. Really!
  • Never give up on yourself or your dreams, and never settle for less than you deserve. Period.
  • No one can take your dreams away from you unless you give them permission to do so. Take control of your dreams and work to realize them. Never let anyone make you believe that your dreams are unattainable.
  • Whenever possible, have some fun. Look at the world as though you’re seeing it for the first time. Enjoy the wonder of it all. Use all of your senses to soak up your surroundings.
  • Even when something bad happens, it has the potential to yield something wonderful. If you avoid the negative emotions or consequences associated with the event, you may deprive yourself of something pleasant that the experience could ultimately offer in the end.
  • It’s good to have a support system, a network of friends and family to count on when circumstances are bleakest and to celebrate with when life rewards you with victories and joyous occasions.
  • You don’t have to look to far-off lands to find your soul mate; it could be someone you see all the time but just haven’t connected with yet. That person could be living right next door to you.

Enjoy and celebrate each day!

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