The blood, guts and glory of creativity.

August 13, 2017

Ghosting Is Killing Us Creatively


The greatest stories of love, conquest and adventure have one important element in common: characters in conflict. This is the element we binge on. We watch people change. We read about  transformation. Conflict is the necessary alchemical process that allows for this change, but it only occurs from a strong driving force - a rushing wind of consciousness, the Character. 

If our stories aren't working, us writers are told to return to the foundations and take a good look at our characters. We need to know what they want and what they are willing to do to get it. Those desires dictate the action that becomes the plot and without action, everything falls flat.

As consumers, we instinctively feel when something is missing. We may not be able to articulate just why we bounce after 10 minutes of streaming that new Netflix show or why we've lost interest in our favourite characters (SUITS anyone?) but we disengage and move on to the next real quick. No explosions, blood splatters or hottie actors can reel us in once we've recognized that feeling of hollowness.

Imagine a conflict between two people that is not acknowledged. Imagine a protagonist with a dream who makes no attempt to follow through. Imagine two people who have sparked an attraction, but they won't declare their feelings or do something about it. There is no call to action. There are no stakes at risk because no one wants anything bad enough. There are no difficult conversations, no emotional through-lines, no heart-filled confessions. Nothing happens.

We can all see the problem with these scenarios, but I bet we can all admit that these are some real-life situations we find ourselves playing out. We don't show up. We don't engage. We don't respond or finish conversations. We've all become a bunch of flakes. We've lost the methods of communication and connection. In avoiding conflict and discomfort, we've lost the heart of our story.

The Art of Disappearing

For those readers happily retired from the rituals of mating, ghosting is the gender-neutral practice of completely disappearing from conversation or relationships with no explanation. Whether it stems from an intention to "be nice" or from the emotional distance texting and social media offers, we no longer feel accountable to others.

We dip a toe in and then retract. It is our prerogative to change our minds and our hearts, but ghosting is not just a frustrating dating obstacle, it's our modus operandi. We not only ghost on each other but our desires in general. We aren't clear about who we are or what we want.

Not all of you are writers, but we are all Creators interacting with Creation (people, places and things) and when our intentions are muddy, so is the world around us. It is not possible to behave in the world with insecurities abound and then approach our art/life with confidence. I think if we understood the consequences of our refusal to engage, we would make different choices.

As a writer, I observe the world and the people in it. My calling is like being a God of a mini universe; I create characters with flaws and then construct the serum for their redemption. Now the only characters I can conceive of that have no interaction with their environment are the dead. They've rightfully lost the ability to participate. But not all spectres are created equal. From the ether, here are two forms emerging:

The Wraith 

A faint trace... an insubstantial presence.
This character stays on the periphery, one foot in the world and one foot out. They present as aloof and untouchable, yet harbour deep feelings that cause them discomfort. Avoiding confrontation and argument, and thus resolution, they disappear instead of holding their ground. They may know what they want, but will never ask for it.

Ugly Truth: Your stories will die inside of you because there are parts not permitted to speak. You deny your fear, deny your anger and so expression is denied as well.
The Serum: Speak your truth. Do not tolerate the intolerable. Recognize that conflict is essential in building your character.

The Phantom

A figment of the imagination.
This character is on a constant quest for things they are not ready for. They present as confident and self-assured, playing on the realm of fantasy and possibility, but they are incapable of following through as they are terrified of being truly seen. They avoid conflict through playful non-commitment and well-intentioned or not, their word cannot be trusted. They may have an idea of what they want - but struggle with feeling worthy of it.

The Ugly Truth: Whatever you create will never move anyone because it lacks substance, as you do.
The Serum: Get real. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Risk not making others happy or being well-liked. Follow your heart, not other's expectations.

Casting a Shadow

We are drawn to characters who are clear and consistent in their desires, regardless of their moral spectrum.  In our 3D lives, we're searching for people who will show up, follow through and mean what they say. We're looking for Integrity, which actually means being whole. It means taking up space and casting a shadow.

In avoiding conflict, failure or heartbreak, we are held hostage in the exposition - waiting for something to happen. We are all guilty of imitating Casper in some avenue of our lives, but we are not ghosts. We are human. We are supposed to be in relationship with each other and it's supposed to be messy.

It is difficult to show up and have conversations with each other, to take risks and fail, but this is the action that makes us active characters, forces of nature with clear motives, able to manifest what we desire because we know what we want. This is what will bring us to clash and collaborate with others. This is how we transform and evolve.

And when we have substance, then we are seen. Then we have a shot at becoming people worth knowing.

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July 13, 2017

Feeling Vulnerable AF and Getting On With It

Photo by Dara Scully

Seven is the most spiritual of numbers. In numerology, it is considered the number of introspection, transformation, and meditation to gain clarity. It's also a hell of a long absence. It wasn't my intention to take such a long sabbatical from this blog. I'm not even sure how it happened. With gentle nudges of friends and readers asking for my return, I started to wonder... when did I stop being willing to share myself?

I'm very sensitive about being a writer who doesn't write, but the truth is I've been working on my memoir behind the scenes, which has thoroughly excavated my emotional resources. Add some serious bullshit in the romance department and massive changes in my career and home and I found myself straight up spiritually fatigued.

Feeling the 10 of Swords kind of low, I needed to hold myself in - a good sign of mental health and mega self-love. Going within brings a lot of answers and there's no real way to calculate how much time is required for healing and for the preparation of a massive shift.

Time to Shake Off the Lobster Shell

When we need to grow, life gets terribly uncomfortable. A friend of mine calls this the lobster shell, as these little monsters shed their protection when it's time to upgrade and expand. The pressure is a sign of growth, but so many of us try to shrink in order not to feel it because change is inconvenient, messy and a general pain in the ass.

Shrinking can also feel like depression with symptoms of numbness, fatigue, feeling isolated, feeling invisible, increased reliance on drugs or alcohol or my personal indicator, being sick all the time. Sounds like an infomercial for a horrible pharmaceutical drug where the side effects are worse than the condition.

I had to start paying attention to my discomfort, which came first as a whisper and then a goddamn brick to the face. For me, being emotionally drained is a signal that I've side-stepped my purpose. It's a call to shift and a call to expand. Often, I just don't want to move.

Vulnerability is Not a Four-Letter Word

Casting off the shell is an incredibly vulnerable process. Even lobsters go into hiding when they're molting. It's a survival thing. And in the end we come out stronger, more capable and more fulfilled. 

In the midst of not wanting to share myself, I started fishing for vulnerability. I started co-producing this series with Stephen Robinson (How to Learn Anything) called ShrinkWrapped, a talk-show with Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Silverstone. Our objective: real people, real conversations.

I researched influencers in the realm of social media, seeking out that magic combination of people willing to be visible, vulnerable and authentic. I'm instinctively drawn to people who do this. They are fascinating to watch and their energy is contagious. It was incredible to be on the sidelines and watch these conversations. I felt so proud of these participants for being real and opening up. And then I was asked to participate. Ugh. I figured it's not really fair of me to coax others into sharing themselves openly and then refuse to do so myself. So... giddy up.

Now let me explain that when it comes to vulnerability, I try to live by the motto of big open heart, big fucking fence. In my desire for connection, I've realized that I needed more discernment of who gets to know me and be in my life. Part of that power has come through writing my memoir, as I've spent time healing and processing the past. Only then can I openly share it - otherwise, it's not a service to me or anyone else. Again, that processing time has taken longer than I expected.

Now I feel compelled to share my story and the call is bigger than the quiver. Writing was the first part in releasing my past. Sharing my experience may help someone else know that it gets better.

Yes, I feel vulnerable. Yes, I struggle to share myself. Yes, I feel raw and naked and at times, and frankly, it feels lonely too. I keep trying to make vulnerable a four-letter word and unfortunately, it has a lot of consonants and I seriously doubt my ability to make #vuln a thing.

Perhaps vulnerability feels so gross because there's not enough of us living in this space, having real conversations and being upfront with each other. Lost in our social personas, lost in the search for attention and validation, I think we're all craving something real. So we gotta be real.

A lobster molts at least twice a year in adulthood. It's a natural process. We too need to allow for nature to run its course and then get on with it.

It's good to be back. xoxo
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