Shifting Timelines

RCWAgain, been reading lately and have another Robert Charles Wilson book in process. Evidently I enjoy his writing style and skills.

I won’t mention which book it is at this point, but it is one of his earlier ones where he isn’t quite as subtle dipping into his extensive bag of tricks. It’s much easier to see how he’s introducing the characters, settings, and scenarios then interweaving them into the storyline.

Mid-way through this one I realized what an excellent teaching tool his books can be to frog disectcreative writing students—no matter the age. It just takes a little extra time, a few margin notes and a coil notebook to trace all the components as you read through it. Lay the gathered info out like an old-school frog dissection if you want to see what’s inside it—pinning those guts out onto the matrix-cardboard, gore everywhere—all over your desk—all over your shirt—all over the notebook.

Then using a white board to display each chapter (represented by small sheets of paper spaced evenly across and down the board), and using some colored yarn for each significant character, one can track character introductions, interactions, and crescendos across the entire whiteboard—which represents the entirety of the novel. This can be very revealing of an author’s intentions and message.

stephen kingIn novels where the narrator (voice and tone) is the main character, it is easier to follow character timelines—because you basically have one point of reference, but when the perspective is more omniscient or limited omniscient, it is more difficult to effectively regulate the writer’s tone and tempo. Then more obvious time descriptors are often used as headers, such as: “a day later”, “the year after this”, “two years prior,” etc.

Exposing too much information too soon makes for clichéd writing; but offering toodark night little information during early chapters creates reader confusion and lack of interest. So it becomes a balancing act of what and who is introduced when and where.

The big question the writer must always answer is the WHY of what, who, when, and where.

WHY is this character appearing early, middle or late in the story? What makes that character significant to the situation as well as to the integrity of the book itself? There are many ways to tell a story—why is the writer using this method? What’s his rationale?

For instance, right now the Wilson book I’m reading is a story about time-travelers, and as one might imagine, scenes switch all over the proposed timeline represented: present, past, future, past, present,…until you start to wonder aloud: “Wait,….which present am I in? The present in the past or the present in the future, or IS THERE ahere and now PRESENT at all?”

I think that might have been one of his themes for this particular novel: “Is there really a PRESENT?”

It’s interesting to me, because that is the same question that I’m sometimes asked when conducting hypnosis Past-Life Explorations with my own clients.

Mid-journey, the client can be describing to me the events and feelings that she is experiencing during a particular past-life situation in a different time and place—a different body—a different setting—a different country, while I sit in PPFthe chair beside her in the NOW. And to the client who is effectively bi-locating in two places at the same time, she may be asking herself or me, “Which PRESENT am I really in? Am I there? Am I here? …..Where is the present?

Well, as the narrator of this story and my client’s tour-guide through her then-current Past-Life Exploration, I simply tell her: We are right here, right now …wherever that is in your timeline because the PRESENT is a constantly moving target.

It comes. It goes. Yet it still remains…the PRESENT, ….at least as we know it.

Memorable Reads

There are spells when I’m a voracious reader. Every two weeks or so I’ve been going to the library—which is really an excellent library with continual supplies of NEW books, both Fiction and Non.

What I’ve noticed is that lately there are some fine quality Fiction books (as well as Non-Fiction—which are usually coleridgemy favorites) available; and then there are some, how shall I say it, less than well-written books with flashier covers and more provocative lead lines. Those tend to be more melodramatic and trite, and unfortunately, they are quite predictable by mid-story.

As a writer myself, I can admire and marvel at a writer’s skill in not only telling a story, but I also like to note the techniques used to create that story’s setting, how the main subjects’ character traits are defined, and how the author handles the passage of time.

Skilled writers are masters of the subtle details hidden between the covers. They can be tricky—like a sleight of hand artist palming a lesser card mid-deal and replacing it with an ace. A flick of the wrist and an unsuspecting eye could miss a persuasive key stroke.

There is far more to a quality novel than just rolling out a somewhat believable plot. Voice, tone, and tempo are all important factors to how a story is told. It’s a lot like that slogan “Destination is not what is important in life—it is the journey along the way.”

readerA good writer can make it a revelatory journey—show you the terrain—the winding curves, the bumps and potholes, the vegetation massed along the side—help you feel comfortable or uncomfortable with your tour guides who are describing scenes, and allow YOU to form your own opinions on what is really occurring in those faux interactions and situations where the main characters are challenged by extreme emotions or passions.

Ensconced in the telling, you even become the helpless witness when they eventually succumb to their own character flaws, allowing the story to play out like a true Greek tragedy—rich in pathos.

So I want to mention that reading-material wise, I was very impressed with The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson. the affinitiesIt is a bit Sci-Fi but not a far stretch for the possible future of social and cultural evolution where emotional attachments and character tendencies become group-based behavioral classifications. The book is more so a group character study (philosophical and psychological) than action-based, but it is so well-written that I will read it again just to take notes on how Wilson transitioned characters, defined settings, and massaged the passage of time.

Another good book (non-fiction that reads like fiction) is A Death on Diamond Mountain: A death on diamondTrue Story of Obsession, Madness, and the Path to Enlightenment, by Scott Carney, which is a masterful telling of truth and hard-gathered facts as if they were unfolding before you. An investigative journalist allows us to see behind the smoking mirrors of a popularized religion.

So how can you tell good writing from mediocre tries at such?

Good writing is easily distinguished from lesser attempts because it is effortless to read and yet deeply satisfying in effect—a bit like a spicy-hot Italian Sausage Pizza that lingers on your palate long after the meal is done.

Every after-burp is a reminder of its potency on your very being.

Beingness

Not sure that I can do this subject justice, but I do have some thoughts on it.

Feeling a sense of higher-purpose for living and imagining a future that draws you eagerly toward it are aspirations that we all share.

Some folks might even be certain that acquiring a good education and having strong career ambitions are one and the same as living purposefully and maintaining an optimistic outlook on future endeavors.

From my point of view now from having done both with education quote from Tolleand career, I know they are not the same as living purposefully and being excited about tomorrow’s unfolding.

I also know now that my present state of beingness is every bit as valid and important to my personal/spiritual evolution as any of the doings that I’ve done in my past, if not more so. Some recent reading material substantiates that belief.

There are two books that I’m slowly wading through, and both are like eating a 5-pound hamburger…you can only get through it by taking one bite at a time and allowing for digestion to do its thing.

One book is Eckhardt Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment; and the other is Dr. David power of nowR. Hawkins’ The EYE of the I, from Which Nothing Is Hidden.

Both authors are said to have achieved enlightenment or what we could refer to as an “enlightened state of consciousness.” And both describe what they experienced and intuited/learned through the mind-expanding experience and the subsequent mind-state following the initial ALL-ness connection.

I’ve certainly invested a lot of pencil-lead in both books; and essentially both say the same thing: It isn’t all the doingness that clears your path to wisdom and unity consciousness (which also equates to success and happiness for spiritual seekers).

It is the beingness—the allowing yourself to simply reconnect to the massive source of energy from which you came—the Source that provides all the answers you desire to every question you could ever conceive.

In other words, the path to enlightenment is NOT a doing path. It is a being path.

The doings that occupy so much of our precious lifetime are simply distractions from finding our true life-purpose and basking in that deep sense of inner happiness. No doubt you can learn a lot from doings, but only being takes you where you truly desire to reach for that sense of inner peace.

eye of II would provide a few appropriate quotes from each to substantiate this point, but Tolle’s entire book is on that very subject of the importance of simply Being; and Hawkins has some great quotes but focuses on tying all awareness into light frequencies and calibrating the consciousness levels between the general masses and the great avatars/teachers who reached that state of extreme expanded awareness. It’s a “numbers” thing with him.

Muscle testing for Hawkins was equivalent to finding the Holy Grail, and is the standard that he used to calibrate all acquired knowledge.5 lb burger challenge

Well, as I mentioned earlier, …lots of reading left to do in both books and I won’t be hungry for some time until after I’ve finished this 5-pound burger on my plate.