Creativity is Feminine by Gail Taras Part 1

Psychology plays an important part in most of my short stories –thus the diversity, and comment: “It feels like each story is a different author.” With the completion of my psychological thriller, “Moloch and the Angel,” Dr. Anna Smith, an eclectic, but mainly Jungian shrink , a psychic shrink, encounters a psychic sociopath. The story unfolds through their sessions and her dreams, intuitions, and torments (not to mention some unfinished business of her own). What I like best about this novel is that the reader experiences what Dr. Anna is thinking during the sessions, as well as learns the different facets of being psychic, and how one can detect and protect themselves from psychic drains.

I have studied psych, social work, and people for a long time. I have decided to share what I believe, and some aspects of those psych session, and underlining mythology, psychology, and philosophy.

I’m gong to start with an article my friend, Gail Taras, wrote about the feminine, creativity, and the inner sense of creativity unfolding.

creativity

Creativity is Feminine

“You can go around me,”
said the Goddess,
twirling on her heels like a bird
darting away,
but just a little away,
“or you can come after me.
This is my forest too,
you can’t pretend I’m not here.”

– Rick Fields The Very Short Sutra on the Meeting of the Buddha and the Goddess http://touchstonesofthesacred.com/buddha-and-the-goddess-by-rick-fields/

In the Greek myth of Hercules, King Eurystheus directs him to capture (without harming) the Ceryneian hind, a red doe sacred to Artemis, Goddess of the Moon. The bronze-footed doe is faster than an arrow. She’s as elusive as any certainty we might seek and as agile and unpredictable as our emotions.

As author Dana Gerhardt tells the story, “the Ceryneian hind is feminine, but has a stag’s antlers, golden ones, symbolizing divine power and receptivity. The antlers are like cosmic antennae into which the Moon Goddess pours her gifts of intuition and inspiration. The doe is a formidable quarry – but also sensitive and vulnerable. One critic has suggested the hind is reminiscent of Sibyls and ancient priestesses who were incapable of issuing prophecies in anything less than a harmonious environment. Their delicate sensibilities required seclusion, being protected from anything unpleasant, harsh or upsetting.

To unfold the sensitive powers of creative inspiration – the Feminine – is what Hercules’ mission is all about. The focused masculine is disadvantaged in the feminine realm. Hercules sees the hind’s antlers sparkling in the sun and starts his chase in high spirits. A year later he is still in pursuit, traveling across Greece, Thrace, Istria and the land of the Hyperboreans. The doe keeps eluding him. She darts away at the first intimation of danger. When finally he sights her at a nearby stream, he is both elated and exasperated. Hercules draws his bow and shoots. “Just a little wound,” he tells himself. He throws the injured doe over his shoulder, relieved at his victory. His joy is short-lived. Just beyond the next grove of trees, he meets the Goddess. Artemis is furious. The hero wilts under her gaze.”

“You can’t pretend I’m not here.”

To ignore the Goddess – the Feminine Archetype – is to cut ourselves off from our own creativity. Creativity is an energy. If it’s not moving it gets stuck in the body. When our creativity is under-realized or under-expressed we experience depression and disconnectedness — in both our personal and professional lives. There’s no joy.

Creativity is Self-expression, in which “self” has a capital Jungian S. It’s the most profound expression of Identity. The ultimate goal of being alive is to create and extend our own unique authenticity into the world. In the same way a flower buds and blooms, or a planet forms from the dust of a dying star, it’s the continuous unfolding of the Universe – the expression of, in the words of Kahlil Gibran, “life’s longing for itself.” Aristotle had a word for it – entelechy – the potential for full expression inherent in the seed. Entelechy means having both a personal vision and the ability to actualize that vision from within. But where does the “vision” come from? It’s not a process governed by the intellect. It is the result of desire, dreams, intuition, and emotion – all those slippery things that usually defy analysis.

To be continued …

 

Article in Mill Valley Lit Summer 2016 issue YAY! an article that traveled

Do Publishers Dream of Robo-writers?

report by Patricia Morin

The pressure is on for authors to sell books. With book stores closing because of Amazon and other internet outlets, publishers demanding authors to do their own marketing, publishers delivering contracts with less incentive, and selling books cheaper, it’s a wonder authors don’t just pack up their pens, and close down their imaginations.

But now, we may be replaced by robots!

Robo-journalism was used to report an earthquake in Los Angeles, CA, in March, 2015. The article, however, was based mainly on data from the US Geological survey. Here’s the article: “A shallow magnitude 4.7 earthquake was reported Monday morning five miles from Westwood, California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 6:25 a.m. Pacific time at a depth of 5.0 miles. According to the USGS, the epicenter was six miles from Beverly Hills, California, seven miles from Universal City, California, seven miles from Santa Monica, California and 348 miles from Sacramento, California. In the past ten days, there have been no earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and greater centered nearby. This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.”

Sounds like it was written by a real journalist.

“However, As well as the earthquake report, it also uses another algorithm to generate stories about crime in the city – with human editors deciding which ones need greater attention”, the article continues (LATimes March 17th, 2015).

FullSizeRenderShelley Podolny  “If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Ever Know?” (NYTimes 3.7.15)

“These robo-writers don’t just regurgitate data, either; they create human-sounding stories in whatever voice — from staid to sassy — befits the intended audience. Or different audiences. They’re that smart. And when you read the output, you’d never guess the writer doesn’t have a heartbeat.

 

Consider the opening sentences of these two sports pieces:

“Things looked bleak for the Angels when they trailed by two runs in the ninth inning, but Los Angeles recovered thanks to a key single from Vladimir Guerrero to pull out a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday.”

“The University of Michigan baseball team used a four-run fifth inning to salvage the final game in its three-game weekend series with Iowa, winning 7-5 on Saturday afternoon (April 24) at the Wilpon Baseball Complex, home of historic Ray Fisher Stadium.”

First one by a machine, second by a human.

Next, we’ll be reading novels written by computers, a conglomerate of the best-selling authors with a simple plot, realistic (ha) characters, and a creative twist at the end that you would have never imagined.

And the “The End” on the last page will mean exactly that.

Patricia Morin is author of Deadly Illusions, Confetti: A Collection of Cozy Crime, Crime Montage, and Mystery Montage.

Don’t know why they stuck in the comic about bookstore and their lowly customers, but thrilled an article of mine made a lit magazine.

Strawberry Moon Horoscope

 

 

Every month I read my Horoscope. So many people do. I, like many others, schedule events, doctor’s appointment, dates, travels and even when to send out queries for agents and publishers based on the lineup of the planets, stars, and how angry the Sun is at Mars.

This month was the month of the strawberry moon. An old name for the month of June,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

photo by janice graham

it really did signal the harvest of strawberries. Last time the strawberry moon landed with the Solstice was June, 1967.

Back to the horoscope. I give you that it wasn’t supposed to start off too well with harsh news on the 2nd–give or take three days (or ten in my case) when the news was supposed to be good.  June 13 was to be the stellar day bringing surprise cash out of the blue–like flowing manna from the skies. Naa, that didn’t happen. I got a rejection letter, along with the news my plans may be blown away by another person’s breakup. It is true that Mars is the planet that teaches patience–I sure as hell needed it. But it was a supreme month to enlist the help of a doctor, or a therapist. Hmm … with all those conclusions and changes, and none of them to the positive, a therapist might not be a bad idea, I thought. But the money didn’t come to me that after closing the non-existent deals earlier in the month. But whatever, after the full moon on the 20th, a chapter was to close on some part of my life. Could that have been when a successful business deal would have lead to the money I would have used for my shrink?

But good news! Mars is going direct on the 29th–today. Bye-Bye Mars– Tomorrow is a good day to sign for loans–for the business that didn’t work out, for the money that didn’t come, for the ripe strawberries I can’t afford to buy. The month was to start with thick dark clouds that were to clear up toward the middle and be all sunshine by the end of the month, with beautiful horizons.

Good, no rain while I go to the bank to sign my loan for all those luscious strawberries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

photo by Janice graham.

 

What are we tethered to?

 

TB100

I heard someone say they were tethered to their job today, and that got me thinking of the word tether and tethered, and tethering. I researched the most modern definition. Tethering is connecting one device to another. In the context of mobile phones and tablet computers, tethering allows sharing the Internet connection of the phone or tablet with other devices such as laptops. Connection of the phone or tablet with other devices can be done over wireless LAN (Wi-Fi), over Bluetooth or by physical connection using a cable, for example through USB.

Surprised to see this definition to the old word that usually implied tying an animal to a post?  Me, too. I thought about what we’re tethered to… like,

red string of fate fate? Or being tied to friendship, love, remembering?

Or are we bound to objects (like the smart phones and computers), people, ideas, or an action, an obsessive action? A Country? My one friend is tied to the news, every station, every event, and says, “I need to know what is going on in the world. There so much going on: Syria, drones, North Korea, the election. I’m afraid I’ll miss something I should know.” She’s tied to world events, the experiences of others. My mother was obsessed about the Kennedy’s, and had so many articles about them, she kept a scrap book. Talked about them incessantly. She also kept a scrap about manners–the appropriate way to behave at different social events, and also at the work place. She was fixated about being attractive, and acting appropriately, by the cultural standards of her time.

Proper Etiquett3 In The 1930′s (9)Get the “Men deserve, desire your entire attention part?”

What about me? I’ve been obsessed lately about finding the right path. Will my life feel complete if I am acknowledged by the road-attachment.aspxothers for my writing, listening, psychological, or teaching abilities? My plays, short stories, or helping when I can? A friend of mine at Hunter College School of Social Work, a priest getting his MSW with me, once said: “The happiest day of my life has already occurred, the day I became a priest.” He tied himself to God. I felt sad for him … almost like no other life experience would ever surpass that day.

Most often, we’re tethered to people, co-dependents–kinda like my mom. Kinda like loads of people. A friend of mine says she’s tethered to karmic energy, traces that follow us from life to life. I wouldn’t know about that, but tethering to an invisible force, like many do to religions, like my priest friend, is a form of co-dependency. Imagine being tethered to God? I couldn’t.

Oh well …

See how far my mind wandered, free and un-tethered contemplating tethered-ness? This is just a writer’s trip. No answers. One I take often when a word pops into my head.

lifetime tether

A Clean Well-Lighted Park Bench

every dreamSeeing my play on video brought me to a deeper level of my work. A friend of mine said that he had to remember that even though the actor, Brian Levi, made my play shine, that it was me that wrote that very first word. Like bringing anything to life, the seeds get planted, grows and then blooms. But in the playwright world, there are so many hardships the flower must endure before it can be appreciated. First the playwright may have to change some of the words, or a sentence, and the flower has less leaves, maybe even less color. Then their is a gardener, a director, that takes hold of  the flower and plucks it into a vase that reflects the the beauty of the work, or not, the final manuscript. The actors accent the design, the curves and the special nuances. The stage is the room that the flower is placed. Is it given enough light? When the sun rises like a curtain to a new day, will its essence shine, or will it wither?

All these aspects have to blend together to achieve the perfect blossom. Yet, in the end, the audience decides whether or not they like your vision, your theme, your flower. But you have the last silent word, not the audience. My silent words? It was awesome, and I loved it. What else is there? Until it does eventually wither in memory and is replaced by another seed to be nurtured.

 

 

Silence Interrupted

I know I said that I would have the third installment of mystery authors that have witnessed murder, outside of police, investigator, and military, but I’m still waiting for some people to respond to my survey. It seems not many people have witnessed an actual murder, then added it to their mysteries, or even began to write mysteries.

But … instead, I’m sharing with you my short play, SILENCE INTERRUPTED, last show, of four, tonight, March 29th, in San Fran’s SF Theatre Pub (144 Taylor St, San Fran). Logo below.

Pianofight

Cast of my play, with producer and director:

Silence interruptedFrom left to right: Sara Judge, producer; Ellen Dunphy playing Cara, Danielle Gray playing MIME, and Carole Snow, the director.

P1080832 A mime, played by Danielle Gray, meets a distraught CEO of an internet company, Ever Lasting Love Dating service, played by Ellen Dunphy. It reminds me of a quote from my fellow International Centre for Women Playwrights comrade, Barbara Blatner, “Silence is as fascinating as language, methinks.”

P1080835

Does anyone see theatre or movies with/about mimes anymore? There silence is rich for the telling. In the world of noise, working a mime into my play was enlightening and rewarding.th

Livius Andronicus Latin adaptations of Greek plays in 230 BC (Rome),  were more lyrical in their metrical form, and more impassioned in their tone than the ordinary dialogue parts. In the musical recitation of these Livius seems to have been very successful, however,the exertion being too much for his voice, he introduced the practice in these monodies, or cantica, of placing a slave beside the flute player to recite or chant the words, while he himself went through the appropriate gesticulation. Hence, a mime was born. There is much more to the history. I just wanted to point out how  far back in time this form of acting existed.

The emotions of the mime to the gesticulations of what the mime sees is what attracted me to write this play … not to mention that Danielle was a mime–a performance artist.  What would bring the mime out of her/his silence? What attracts the mime to stay in such a world? Even when abused, the mime stays silent. Yet, it is in that silence, and the ability to act out a story, we find their superiority. Maybe that is the reason some people dislike them. However, I love them, and intend to build my short play into an one act, one hour play about the nature of silence verses the nature of the talker.th (3)

 

JUST SAY NO TO SUBMISSION FEES!

More and more magazines and literary journals, as well as theatres, are asking for fees. I’ve been following this, not only with my mystery writing organizations, but now with playwrights.

no

JUST SAY NO PAYING FOR SUBMISSIONS

“Why Writers are Paying to get Published”

The Atlantic Magazine

October, 2015

By

Joy Lanzerdorfer

Note: Since all writers, no matter what their genre are being met with the same probles, I have added playwrights in parenthesis. The article does not do this.

It’s fall, the time of year when literary journals open their doors for new submissions. Around the country, writers are polishing poems, short stories, and essays (and plays) in hopes of getting published in those small-but-competitive journals devoted to good writing (and theatres devoted to good plays). Though I’ve published short stories in the past, I’m not submitting any this year, and if things continue the way they have been, I may stop writing them altogether. The reason, in a nutshell, is reading fees—also called submission or service fees—which many literary journals (and now theatres) charge those who want to be considered for publication. Writers pay a fee that usually ranges from $2 to $5—but sometimes goes as high as $25—and in return, the journal will either (most likely) reject or accept their submission and publish it. Even in the lucky case that a piece is published (produced), most journals don’t pay writers (including playwrights) for their work, making it a net loss either way.

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/10/why-writers-are-paying-to-get-published/411274/

AUTHORS CALL TO ACTION

Authors call for boycott on non-paying festivals

Published January 15, 2016

by

Benedicte Page

Prominent writers including Linda Grant, Denise Mina, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon have responded to Philip Pullman’s protest over the Oxford Literary Festival’s failure to pay author fees by joining a call for publishers and fellow authors to boycott events with the same policy.

Pullman, who is president of the Society of Authors, has stepped down from his role as patron of the festival, saying it is a case of “simple justice” that authors should be paid for their appearances.

Now novelist and critic Amanda Craig has written an open letter to The Bookseller calling for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals that expect authors to work without a fee. “For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free – even though the public is paying in good faith to see us,” she wrote. “We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels and said No.”

Craig’s letter has attracted immediate support from many other authors, with Linda Grant, Louisa Young, Denise Mina, Francis Wheen, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon among those who have put their names to it. (Full letter below)

The fact that many literary festivals do not remunerate authors for appearances has been a long-running grievance among writers, with the Society of Authors currently campaigning on the issue and “working with them [festivals] to agree reasonable fees and best practice guidelines”, as chief executive Nicola Solomon told The Bookseller earlier this month.

Novelist Robert Harris yesterday tweeted a response to Pullman’s comments on his resignation, saying “So true! A few (insane) punters paid £50 for a front-row seat at my last event. I was given a mug, appropriately.”

If you’re a writer and want to add your signature to the petition, leave a comment on this piece.

Letter to The Bookseller:

Sir/ Madam,

Further to Philip Pullman’s resignation from the Oxford Literary Festival, we would like to call for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals that expect authors to work for free.

For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free – even though the public is paying in good faith to see us. We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels, and said No.

Perhaps playwrights can also fashion a similar letter, and send it to any theatre that asks for a fee.

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/authors-call-boycott-non-paying-festivals-320338

no

The Effects of Witnessing an Actual Murder–PTSD PART 2

“A neighbor broke in to my home at 3 am and I heard the foot steps as she walked into my moms room (Where I was laying next to my sleeping mom) she held the knife over her head then ran at me and stabbed me in my chest twice, my mom then awoke and the killer ran around to her side of the bed and stabbed her over 30 times. I did see most of it but ran out of the house and hid behind a car half a block down the street. I stayed there until the police came and after surgery, found out my mom didn’t make it. I have come a long way in the past 6 years, but the flashbacks are the hardest to deal with and make me feel so unsafe and that this will happen again.” PTSD (Post Traumatic Shock Disorder) blog from 2013

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according the the Mayo clinic (www.Mayoclinic.com/PTSD) is defined as:  is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD.

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event

Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

  • Negative feelings about yourself or other people
  • Inability to experience positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships

Changes in emotional reactions

Symptoms of changes in emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being easily startled or frightened

“Im currently awaiting a decision to be made for compensation from the, criminal crime compensation authority , (CICA) . Due to something terrible that happened to me and witnessing (being forced to watch a person murdered in my home) The person that commited the crime, was later sentanced to life imprisonment, as i was the only witnees i stood and testified against him to ensure justice was served. The impact this event on my life has been huge, suffering from flashbacks, deppression, isolation, fear, social anxiety and guilt, also choose alcohol as a coping stratergy which now i have let go off. so find it hard to build a life for myself and keep stable, but strive hard for myself to recover” PTSD blog

These are stories of people who were impacted by seeing murder. One story reminded me of a noir story I once read. It’s from the same blog. I could hear a Private Investigator recounting his first brush with murder (and possibly his own death).

“I was working as a bouncer in a bar in college in 1997, and there was a shooting. I saw the guy with a gun run by me, tuck his gun in his pants, and followed him out thinking I could point him out to a police officer. We ended up outside, and as I was pointing at him he reached for his gun. I grabbed him and forced him against the wall while thinking “If i see the gun I am going to kill him.” I felt my mind snap at that moment. Someone behind me said “let him go, let him go” and he took off. I went back in the bar, pulled a woman off the victim so they could try to help the guy, but his brains were scattered on the floor.
I found out later there were 2 shooters, and the person behind me was likely the other shooter. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t let him go … Anyway, I find myself thinking about it constantly. Its weird to me that people I know don’t know this about me. When people get stressed at work, all I can think of is at least your brains aren’t on a floor right now. It gave me a new perspective.”

TO BE CONTINUED …

 

At Death’s Door

At Death’s Door– Part 1

towersMy husband and I live in a 90-unit apartment complex, and you can imagine the goings-on that can happen (and do happen) with approximately 150 people living in close proximity to one another.

Our across-the-hallway neighbor died in his apartment. Alone. He was dead for two weeks before the manager made a “wellness” call. We thought he had gone away on vacation. He went away, all right. When the fireman opened the door to the apartment, the pungent, acrid, decaying, nauseating smell that overtook the hallway, and us, is one I will never forget. The rancid smell was so overpowering that I couldn’t describe it at first. Rotting grapefruits? Rotting citrus mixed with dirt and vomit?

Death smells vile.

But that wasn’t all: the flies—every size, and shape, and color—escaped (different flies for different stages of decomposition, we were told). The downstairs neighbor suffered the most from the flies—through the kitchen and bathroom exhaust vents they came, maggots, too. It was something out of a horror flick.

Did I say I would never forget the smell, a smell that took a week to diffuse, and lingered after the “cleanup” crew came with, what appeared to be, hazmat suits? As a mystery writer, I would have never before been able to describe the feeling of a dead man’s flesh-eating fly buzzing around my ear, panicked it would land on me. I could never before have been able to describe the smell of death, the stages of the smell of death.

The coroner said they couldn’t release anything to relatives until they’d discovered the cause of his death. Was it suicide? He was depressed, had a limp, couldn’t ride his motorcycle anymore, drank, took his medication, then didn’t take his medication…you’ve heard all this before. Nothing new.

He died of a massive heart attack.

Luckily, many of my stories do not involve describing corpses. I couldn’t now anyway. Tony’s dead body—which I only smelled, along with meeting the flies that covered him—would immediately pop into mind.

What about mystery writers who have witnessed an actual murder? How do they write about it?

Tune in

 

Happy Holiday, and Gingerbread Houses

Happy Holidays, and so far, we are enjoying the season, the people, even the rain. We hope you are, too–except for the questionable weather you may be having in your area.

We spent a few days traipsing through town and viewing all the gingerbread houses in the Sausalito (CA) Gingerbread Houses’ contesour houset. After attempting our first ever house to your left, we decided we needed to explore all those possibilities. It’s almost like after reading your thriller novel, you decide to read others, like yours, but maybe, not so much like yours. Here are the houses we visited. Oh, BTW, our roof caved in within the hour.

alcatraz

Alcatraz

blueThe Blue House

graham house DAS BOAT

 

 

 

IMG_2008The Love Shack

IMG_2009

 

 

The Taj and it’s entrance

 

IMG_2012

IMG_2013

   IMG_2015 All of these creations are winners in different classes. This is a small village … hmm … very small.IMG_2038long houseThe long house,

and at last, the Fairmont Hotel’s huge gingerbread rooms!

Gingerbreadroom at fairmont Hotelginbread FairmontWe did come to one conclusion after observing the mastery of this art form. Our first New Year’s resolution: no more building of gingerbread houses.

Hope you enjoyed the quick show. Happy Holidays once again, and again.