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Posts tagged ‘journeys’

Journeying through fiction

Critics have said that the best fiction is that which is so well written, readers feel they are actually there in the scenes observing the action and hearing the dialogue. We read books, I believe, when we need to read them even though our choices may be subconscious. This need probably includes escapist fiction, though I see that more as an emergency pain killer or probiotic than a self-improvement journey.

A variety of book genres resonate with me. When there are lessons, large and small, and vicarious experiences, large and small, within them, then the process of reading becomes a positive journey. There may or may not be spiritual implications even though the story is providing something we need. We don’t always consciously know what we need; yet, the reading provides it. In fact, since I operate out of intuition and chaos, I tend to think that books meet our needs when we simply read them to enjoy them rather than when we read them thinking they’ll meet specific needs in our lives.

Apparently, those needs are best met when we allow ourselves to be swept away by the story, to read it without distractions and to visualize the scenes as they happen rather than intellectually reading the words the way we might if we were studying a book for a college course. When I read, I pretend that I am right there in the middle of the action. After reading a few pages, it’s no longer pretence because the action really seems to be wherever I am.

In spite of several cataract surgeries, my eyes tire more quickly these days than they did years ago. So, I’m likely to shut them for a few minutes to give them a rest. When I do this, I continue to see an unfolding scene. This is somewhat disconcerting because it’s not the scene the author wrote. It’s as though the characters continue doing their own thing while my eyes are closed with dialogue and action seem just as real as that in the book. When I open my eyes, I find that I’ve somehow wandered into an alternate future for the characters that began the minute I closed my eyes. This forces me to backtrack several pages to get back into the story the author intended.

I have no idea whether or not this happens to other readers. Perhaps it’s an anomaly. Perhaps it’s my level of concentration and/or my writer’s intuition about routes the story could take next at any given moment.  In general, I function better when I’m reading my favorite kinds of stories. They’re like powerful energy drinks. Reading helps my writing, too even though I never read anything similar to what I’m writing at the moment because I don’t want to be influenced by it, worse yet, borrow it without knowing I’m borrowing it.

I don’t think it helps to pick up a novel and think, “Okay, I’m about to go on a journey.” That would be like taking a placebo, knowing that it’s a placebo. The journeys we take by reading books seem more effective when we don’t concern ourselves with the journeys and just let whatever’s going to happen to happen. After we finish a book, we might feel empowered or inspired or more confident in ourselves or ready to tackle difficult tasks. Personally, I prefer not to analyze this: I’d rather just allow it without trying to pin science and technology logic to the process.

How about you? When you read the kinds of novels you like best, do you feel better off while reading them? Do you feel a lack in your life when you don’t have anything new to read? When you finish a book, does it feel like you’ve just returned home from a vacation trip?

I can easily answer “yes” to all those questions, but I wonder where other people experience books in similar ways.

Malcolm

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If you don’t know where you’re going. . .

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

This blog came into being after I tinkered with earlier blogs on Blogger, MySpace, Typepad, and Xanga. Since this blog doesn’t have a real niche, you might say that in all its incarnations I never knew where I was going. Except in wholly practical matters like getting on a plane and ending up where my ticket says I’m supposed to end up, I much prefer not to be going to any particular place. I dislike planning.

I took a look at the first post on this blog in 2008 to see if I began with a plan, forgot about it, and then decided there was no need for a plan:

As of 2008

Photo by João Barbosa on Unsplash

A friend asked in a recent post on her MySpace blog “How Do You Define Success?”

Essentially, her answer was finding the freedom to be herself and to follow her dreams. The challenge for her–for many of us–was that while following our dreams requires a measure of security and financial well-being, if we spend too much time or stress establishing that, we may not ever get to our dreams.

My answer to her question was similar to hers. Success to me is doing what I’m here to do: making an inner journey and writing about it. This blog represents my random thoughts, and a lot of yours, about the challenges we face and about the things we see along the trail.

I’m influenced, as many of you can tell, by the work of such writers as Edward Abbey and Colin Fletcher and by the dedication of volunteers in such organizations as the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy. I’m also influenced by Jane Roberts’ “Seth Books,” by the writings of Carlos Castaneda and Caroline Myss.

As we walk the trail, we learn–as Carlos was taught–that our outer journey is a reflexion of our inner journey and, conversely, that if we are impeccable in what we do in the physical world, we will be more centered within.

For me, success is being on the path and experiencing what I find there and then putting those feelings into words on the page.

What about you?

As of Right Now

My novels and blog posts still reflect my inner journey–more or less. The journey has been satisfying, if not profitable. This doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done better, though I’m not sure better would have yielded the same lessons.

What about you? Have you changed your basic philosophy and/or how you view success since 2008?

I envy people who keep diaries, real diaries rather than those they write in such a way that people years down the road will read them with great admiration. I could never do that. I either couldn’t stay with it or I couldn’t stay with it without fictionalizing what was happening while it was happening. Maybe the embellishments were the real me. I don’t have a clue, and that’s probably just as well. But those can do keep honest diaries can go back and see what the hell they were thinking long, long ago.

I think this blog is just as chaotic now as it was when it began. I like it that way because it makes every day a blank slate where everything is possible. Plans seem to limit what is possible because they’re based on preconceived notions about what I ought to be doing tomorrow or next week.

My wife will tell you that–like most men–I don’t like to stop and ask directions. Frankly, I don’t know why that lack of practicality is a “male thing.” If we’re on the way to the hospital ER or maybe to pick up the Pulitzer Prize, I’d ask somebody where we were and where we needed to go.

Otherwise, I don’t want to know. I want the road to surprise me.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Stories, three novels in one e-book.

 

 

Briefly Noted: ‘On The Big Rivers’

On the Big Rivers: From Three Forks, Montana to New Orleans Louisiana by  Richard E. Messer, with Jerry D. Sanders, Genoa House (Feb 21, 2015), 190 pp., photographs.

bigriversRivers are the veins of the Earth. I’ve seen the Missouri and the Mississippi from my car and from the air. But to travel them: that would be the experience to savor and write about as author William Least Heat-Moon wrote about his trip across the U.S. by boat in River Horse in 1999. Now, here’s a canoe trip to savor.

From the Publisher

“Canoeing from the source of the Missouri River high in the mountains of the Continental Divide down the rapids and over the dams of the upper Missouri to its confluence with the Mississippi and on down its broad waters to New Orleans, 3,800 miles, two young men undertake a voyage of adventure that every young person talks about, but few take. Travel with them in a time before cell phones and GPS as they are initiated into the age old perils of nature and explore the historic river towns along their route.

“Experience through vivid, first person story telling, the physical and emotional challenges they meet and overcome in their encounters on this pioneering journey down the two greatest rivers of America. This exciting narrative provides not only a pristine view of the beauties of these rivers as they were fifty years ago, but also dramatizes the damage we have done in contaminating, straightening, and commercializing our once bounteous water resources. Share this dream of inspiring adventure and experience the pioneering spirit that still lives in every young heart.”

You may also like: ‘On the Big Rivers’ traces voyage of discovery in the Bowling Green State University News, tells how a trip taken in 1962 has now become a book.

Messer is also the author of Dark Healing, a collection of poems published in 2013.

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the upcoming novella “Conjure Woman’s Cat” set in the Florida Panhandle in the 1950s days of the KKK and Jim Crow.

 

 

 

A notion about the gospel of your life

“Quests are personal journeys, and every step is taken alone.” –Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard

DCFC0152.JPGIf there is a subtle message in my novel The Sun Singer it is this: the great words of the great masters about our life’s journeys are—at best—hints. The ideas from the rest of us are mere notions.

The words of the masters may suggest to us that there are other worlds and other levels of consciousness and other levels of awareness. And they may also suggest techniques that will help us find the doorways, paths, enlightenments, and awakenings we desire.

After that, the great words are lies insofar as our journeys are concerned. The great masters’ great words describe the great masters’ journeys. As such, they are the gospels of the great masters’ experience.

My journey is mine alone. Your journey is yours alone. Neither journey can be undertaken by following in the great masters’ footsteps or by concretizing the great masters’ thoughts into a recipe book. We alone know the terrain upon which we’re walking and when all is said and done, the great masters’ view from the mountaintop will never be ours. Attempting to see what they saw creates blindness.

I am continuously writing my story just as you alone will write the gospel of your life, and it will be based on your awareness of your own experience. Nothing else matters; nothing else exists. You and I are both the creators of our paths and the ones who walk upon them enjoying the scenery and surprising ourselves with the wonders we encounter.

Malcolm

From the Archives: This post was first published in my blog in 2005.

Read it now on your Kindle

Read it now on your Kindle