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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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Subconscious

So, I finally wrote the ending to my Novel in Progress…..

…….and it felt good.  While I didn’t write the actual ‘The End’, it was a definitive ending that will carry over into the next story.  There were a lot of fun and humorous moments in this story, as well as frustrating ones, but I muddled through and got to that final period that ended the final sentence.

There were some interesting things going on in this story, not the least of which that it has parallels to my saucy speakeasy story. [1]  The story begins and ends in a cemetery and involves a family.  The Narrator descends into a basement (house, library, county court house, store) on at least four separate occasions.  She grows progressively less resistant to the idea that she has power, that she matters, that she has a voice.  Her reliance on ghosts is cut off until she finally is able to embrace her strength and power and chooses to face it, rather than run, which was her normal reaction.

If I were to apply Jungian theory to this, I’d call the basement the physical representation of the Narrator’s subconscious.  In each instance, she is given information, which she takes back with her to the surface.  By not resisting her own power, she is literally able to unlock and open doors without using a key or lock picks.  By choosing to embrace this power, she destroys the lies told about herself and is given the opportunity to know herself honestly.

This was not a planned theme – as I drew closer to the ending, I became increasingly aware of these subtle meanings within the text.  As I go back into it, for editing, revision and general clean up, I’m sure I’ll start finding more subtleties and either rein them in or emphasize them a little more.

The Manuscript in Question.

[1] I wrote a blog post in March of this year about the multiple similarities between this novel and my saucy speakeasy.  You can find it here.

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So, lately, I’ve been feeling really angry…..

…..and it’s about nothing that I can put a finger on and say “Ha! I see this, it is making me angry and I will correct it and turn that feeling around to a more positive (if not happy) feeling!”

It’s more of a free-floating anger about life in general.  It’s a thought that hovers just outside my conscious thinking, present, but not the focus.  I’m not sure, really, why I’m feeling this anger, this hot brick of energy that sits squarely on my chest and in my mind.  I just know that it’s there, it’s wanting my attention and that I am going to have to address it in order for it to go away.

Or, at least, to put myself in control of my feelings, rather than let it (or any other feeling) have control of me.

This is where I know my art and my writing will help.  By putting my emotions on canvas, I’m acknowledging what’s going on inside my mind.  By writing it out, by creating a story with fully realized characters, I’m giving those emotions a voice.

This feeling of anger is not there without reason.  It’s not making itself present in my thoughts or my life just because it can.  Something in my subconscious really needs to be addressed and I need to pay attention to it.  Therapy can help, but I’m not in the mood for talking.  By talking about it, I end up feeling like I’m poisoning the air around me.

I don’t want to do that.  That’s exhausting for me.  I’d rather focus on things that make me feel good and happy.

So, art and writing it is.  Years ago, I wrote a thriller screenplay that was incredibly dark and creepy.  I’ve been toying with turning it into a novel and printed it out.  I’m making a bullet list of what I hope to accomplish within the story, how I want to format it.

That simple act is helpful for me.

This is something that I am doing for me.  If, however, you feel in need of outside help, please, by all means, seek it out.  There’s no shame in getting help, whether it’s to manage your feelings or your health or even improving your mindset.

Be creative and be active and be pro-active.

What are you creating today?

So, David Bowie once said…….

………“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.

I read this quote by David Bowie shortly after his death. It stayed with me, the way things do that make a strong impression. Some of my best creative output came about during the worst times and least secure moments of my life. As long as I was sitting in front of my computer, stringing words together and giving scenes and characters life, I was okay. Whatever was happening outside my little home became easier to handle and navigate. In short, regardless of the uncertainty of my future, my art allowed me to give voice and find strength.
However, as I reflected on Mr. Bowie’s words, I realized that maybe he wasn’t talking about the discomfort of the physical world, but the discomfort of our individual interior and emotional worlds. The analogy of water that Mr. Bowie uses can be interpreted in many ways. Swimming is the most immediate symbol – in order to become a competent swimmer, one needs to learn the basics of swimming. To be a competent or even a competitive swimmer, one had to be willing to push past fear and go into the deep end.
The other image of water that made itself clear to me was the subconscious, as in, “What lies beneath your conscious self?” What, indeed? What we fear the most, about ourselves, our loved ones, our worlds, is generally buried under the busy-ness of every-day living. A lot of times, we make ourselves busy so as not to address that which worries or scares us the most. It’s natural to want to feel safe and secure, but it can also hinder us from making the necessary changes in our lives that would bring us peace.
Embrace that discomfort and that fear. Get out your sketchpad or journal. Just let it all out onto that page, whether it’s haiku or musical notes, oil or watercolors. Let it be what it is. There is no judgement between you and that page – remember, this is for you to express yourself to yourself. Share it only if you want to.
Artistic expression is not just about romance and beautiful landscapes and silly love songs and enchanted cottages. It’s also about the flip side, about the things that scare us, make us angry or sad. The arts can give voice to both our light selves and our darker selves, what Carl Jung would call the Shadow.

Recommended reading:

Man and His Symbols

The Red Book

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Editor’s Note – this blog post is also published concurrently on Citizens Journal Ventura County.

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