Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Words (and Everything Else) Made Manifest

Sunday, January 20 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

I'm sitting in my living room, my laptop on my lap-top and a thick, manuscript-filled binder on the sofa next to me. On my screen is a document last viewed in March 2006, while the binder is open at a page created in January 1999.

Both represent uncompleted drafts of The StarQuest, my unfinished sequel to The MoonQuest.

I stare from page to screen and back again and wonder why it has been so difficult for me to write this story. (It's been so difficult that, in 2003, I suspended my first draft after 200-some pages and started all over.)

For a while, I had thought that the story was so far ahead of me, creatively and spiritually, that I needed to live a whole bunch of life to catch up with it. (I had a similar, if much briefer experience with The MoonQuest.)

I still believe that to be true...up to a point. And while I can't know yet whether I'm fully caught up, I know I'm caught up enough to return to work on it.

And so here I sit, the easy flow of words still eluding me.

It's a tired truism that we teach what we need most to learn, and I think of that as I recall these words from my new book on writing, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, from a chapter titled "Creating Perfection":

"Are you frustrated? Do you struggle to find the perfect words that consummately evoke the depth of your passion or flawlessly paint the fullness of your vision? Are you frustrated because the words you have chosen seem inadequate, their ordering unsatisfactory?...

"It’s a futile frustration, for language is an approximation. It’s a powerful but often inadequate device for translating experience and emotion into a form others can share. ..."

The fact is, everything we choose to create in our lives -- be it books, wealth, relationships, a better job, better health -- already exists in the electromagnetic field around us. Whatever we desire is already present -- whole and unedited -- just beyond the tip of our nose.

The key -- and it's key to all manifestation work -- is in the translation. How do we take what already exists in one form (etheric energy) and translate it into another (physical energy)? How do we real-ize? How do we make it real in our day-to-day lives?

There are many tools and techniques out there involving things like affirmation, intention, visualization, reprogramming, acting-as-though and feeling/sensing/emotion. And they all have validity and potential, depending on the individual and his or her path, readiness and vibrational level.

What's rarely discussed, though, is that there is no universal alchemical formula that will take what is innately nonphysical and flawlessly translate it into the physical.

Once you remove "meta" from "metaphysical," the infinite energies in question have to shift to fit into the more finite box of our physical world, as it is now organized.

I'm reminded of a drawing I did a few years back. Normally when I draw, I set my palette of colors in front of me and intuitively sense which to use when. On this day, I sensed a color that didn't seem to exist. Not one pencil from my extensive array felt right.

Then it struck me that the color I sought wasn't visible to the human eye, which can only discern colors in a fixed spectrum. What I sensed could not translate into the physical (as we now experience it), and I was forced to choose the closest possible approximation.

With The StarQuest, I see and know the story. I feel it and sense it. And yet as magnificent as the English language is, it's not up to the task. No language is or could be.

That's not a bad thing. It forces me to let go of my perfectionist tendencies. It forces me to recognize that it's not my inadequacy that's holding me back. It forces me to empower my readers by creating Impressionist moments instead of Kodak moments. And it frees me to create not copy.

Whether in writing, art or life, creation is an act of doing the best we can with the materials at hand. It's recognizing that even our imperfect tools are life-changingly powerful. It's being open to the journey, not merely to the destination.

That's something that I as the teacher continue to learn in all aspects of my life, something I will do my best to remember when I next sit down to The StarQuest.

"Creating Perfection" ends this way:

"All you can do is translate your experience as heartfully as you’re able into little squiggles on a page. Begin by recognizing that most of the time you’re only going to come close. Continue by knowing that it remains within your power to have your words incite revolution, topple dynasties, overthrow 'reality.'

"That’s perfect enough for me. How about you?"

Read more excerpts from The Voice of the Muse, and hear a guided meditation for writers from The Voice of the Muse Companion 2-CD set, here.

Order your copy of The Voice of the Muse book and/or CD here.

The MoonQuest Oracle?

Wednesday, January 15 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

I'm sitting at my computer, staring at a blank screen.

I know it says in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write that writer's block is a myth, but it's time to send out a new issue of my inspirational newsletter and I have no idea what to write.

Yet, I know today's the day.

As I look around my office for inspiration, my eyes light on a copy of my novel, The MoonQuest, and I remember two of the book's reader reviews, one each on Amazon and GoodReads.

In both instances, the readers had been using The MoonQuest as an oracle or divination tool, opening the book at random when they needed guidance or reassurance.

Could it work for me?

I pick up the book, which falls open to page 168. As my eyes scan down the page, they stop abruptly at this: "Their time had come to an end. Yours is beginning."

It's what O'ric tells Toshar after Toshar has had a vision of the slaying of loved ones from his past, and it seems an oddly harsh theme for a newsletter. My eyes continues to scan but keep returning to those ten words.

Suddenly, I'm cold, and I realize it's not a chill in the room, because I'm only cold when rereading those two sentences. It's a truth shiver -- what we called "chicken skin" when I lived in Hawaii -- and it's telling me to trust what I'm reading.

With a certain skepticism, I copy the words onto my screen. Before I know it, my fingers are dancing across the keyboard and The Year of Living Wondrously, an article on letting go of the past, begins to take shape...effortlessly.

As I complete the piece, I'm reminded that the words are always there, waiting for me to notice them. I wrote that in The Voice of the Muse, but it's something I too often forget.

It's a timely reminder this week as I prepare, after a lengthy absence and with some trepidation, to return to work on The MoonQuest's sequel -- a book that has long baffled me.

The words are are always there, and so is the story. All I have to do is listen for it and let it out. All I have to do is forget any difficulties from the past and trust that each new beginning will carry me forward, in perfection and ease.

On the Air with Mark David

Tuesday, January 8 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

Listen to my conversation with Nashville's Yvonne Perry of Writers in the Sky as she interviews me about writing, writers block and the meeting point of spirituality and creativity.

The interview first aired on January 4 and it's still relevant and inspiring -- whether you want to write, are just starting out or have written forever. Click here to listen.

"It's not that the words won't come. It's that we're not listening for them in quite the right way."

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Miracle of The Voice of the Muse

Saturday, December 22 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

I leave Albuquerque's Shepherd Studios this morning clutching the two CDs that hold my recording of the audio tracks for The Voice of the Muse Companion CD set.

My heart is pounding and I can barely contain my excitement. I haven't yet listened to all 11 tracks yet, but what I've heard so far is beyond anything I could have imagined. Put simply, I've never heard myself sound so good or so professional.

This recording is but the latest in the string of miracles and synchronicities that have surrounded The Voice of the Muse project. In fact, there have been so many that it's hard to track of them.

The first occurred early on, with the cover design: When my first designer proved unable to capture the book's spirit and essence, a replacement -- the highly talented Richard Crookes -- emerged by seeming happenstance through a casual conversation on Facebook.

This latest miracle is no less magical.

From my earliest vision of the book, there was always a companion CD containing my recording of the guided meditations. As I write in The Voice of the Muse, "when a book I’m reading includes guided meditations that it suggests I record and use, I hardly ever do it. Instead, I close one eye and read the meditation with the other, hoping it will have the desired effect. It rarely does."

For the single CD of meditations in the original eBook, I used a Sedona friend's home recording studio. For the new book and its two CDs, however, I no longer had access to free facilities.

Assuming that a professional studio would be beyond my means, I bought some basic equipment and recorded into my computer. The result was not even good enough for a digital mastering facility to fix.

Suddenly, I was faced with a tough decision: trust that a solution would present itself or immediately scrap the CD aspect of the project. Immediately, because the book, which was 24 hours away from being sent to the printer, would have to be stripped of all references to the CD.

With some trepidation, I opted for trust and put the word out that I needed an affordable recording studio. Fast.

Within days, I was in the sound booth at Shepherd Studios, being coached by its owner. A while later, as we're listening to one of the meditation tracks in the control room, he slides over to the electronic keyboard. "I think it would sound even better with something like this," he says, as he starts to improvise a track of contemplative music.

He's right. It sounds incredible. But...

"What would something like that add to the cost?" I ask hesitantly.

"Does it matter?" he answers back, clearly channeling the spirit of the project.

The bottom line? The full cost of the professional recording, editing, engineering, mixing and music was barely more than I had planned to spend on mastering my original recording. And the quality of the studio recording is so exceptional that mastering is no longer needed.

As I listen now to all 11 tracks, I'm in awe -- not only of the sound quality and inspirational power of the 2-CD set but of the trust in miracles that brought it to life...that same trust that brings our words to life on the page, when we let it.

Whether you're a seasoned writer or just starting out, whatever your genre or form, The Voice of the Muse book and companion 2-CD set will rekindle your creative fire, free your creative spirit and revolutionize your creative life. You'll never feel the same about writing again!

At 248 pages, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write is 50 percent longer than its eBook predecessor and includes many new chapters, meditations and exercises. The companion 2-CD set (sold separately) contains my recording of the book's 10 guided meditations and an introductory track of instruction and inspiration. Although you don’t need the book to have a full experience of the CD set (or vice versa), the two work synergistically together to enrich your creative journey.

Click here to experience "You Are a Writer," the final guided meditation from The Voice of the Muse Companion CD set.

All copies of The Voice of the Muse book and/or CD set ordered before January 22 will be signed to you (or to whomever you're gifting it) and will get free U.S. shipping. (Normal shipping charges apply as of January 22.)

Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?

Wednesday, December 19 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

I'm in the video section of Target, Christmas shopping for my daughter. As I'm browsing through the movie racks, I overhear an older and younger woman discussing which DVD to buy a child on their list.

"What about Eragon?" the younger woman asks. "I hear it's good."

"Does it have magic in it? I don't want a movie with magic," the older one -- her mother? -- responds sternly.

They move out of earshot and I'm too stunned to follow.

Are we truly living in some version of The MoonQuest's mythical setting? This land where vision is outlawed and visionaries put to death, where myth and magic are forbidden, where "once upon a time" is a forbidden phrase, and where fact is the only legal tender was a creation of my imagination... Or was it?

What kind of culture have we created where children are denied magic, where fantasy is suspect and where dragons are relegated to dustbins?

Thirty years ago in an essay, author Ursula K. Le Guin asked, "Why are Americans afraid of dragons?" She concluded that most technological cultures dismiss works of the imagination because they lack measurable utility, an outlook only exacerbated in this country by our Puritan heritage.

If 30 years ago dragons were not fit for adults, are they now unfit for children, too?

While the Harry Potter books broadened the reach of imaginative fiction for kids (and adults), it also expanded our hysterical suspicion and suppression of it.

The fact is, imaginative fiction opens our hearts, expands our spirit and broadens our minds in ways that nonfiction never can, and that magical/fantastical fiction can carry more truth in its castles, dragons and trolls than many pieces of so-called literature.

That's why I call The MoonQuest a "true fantasy." There is nothing factual about it. But as those two women in Target have proven, it's decidedly true.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hidden Desires of the Heart

Monday, December 17 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

A funny thing about dreams is that we sometimes don't even know we have them until they're on the verge of being fulfilled.

Getting The MoonQuest published wasn't that kind of unconscious dream for me. Rather, it was a conscious dream I had held since the book's second draft was completed more than a decade ago.

The Voice of the Muse was different. As I wrote here six months ago in You Want Me to Do What?!?, publishing this book on writing was not something I knew to be my heart's desire. Even when I sensed Spirit urging me forward with the project, I felt more obedient than impassioned.

Today, though, as The Voice of the Muse's final files reach the book's Michigan printing plant, I'm suddenly overcome by the power in my life of this unconscious dream. It hit me today in much the same way a forgotten nocturnal memory is unexpectedly reawakened by a chance thought or encounter.

Once I heard that the printing process had begun, I was overwhelmed by a surge of excitement I hadn't previously felt. In an instant, my intuitive knowingness had become visceral, emotional. Suddenly, I felt connected to all those who will be freed by this book to tell their stories. It was as though my path and theirs had merged in a burst of shared passion and creative purpose.

Now, to my amazement, the prospect of holding The Voice of the Muse in my hands and of sharing its wisdom into the world fills me with the same anticipatory fervor I felt eight months for The MoonQuest, when it was at a similar stage.

The dream I didn't know I had is being realized, and I'm grateful.

Art by Mark David Gerson: "Creative Force," inspired by Mount Garfield, the eastern edge of the Book Cliffs, near Grand Junction, Colorado

"The words lie within you. They hover in the shadows, longing to be noticed, yearning to be heard, aching to be shared. Together through this book, you and I will give them voice."

The 248-page book of inspiration and instruction is 50 percent longer than its eBook predecessor and includes many new chapters, meditations and exercises. Also available is a companion 2-CD set with my recording of the book's 10 guided meditations, plus an introductory track of instruction and inspiration. You can read/hear excerpts here

All copies of The Voice of the Muse book and/or CD set ordered before January 22 will be autographed to you (or to whomever you're gifting it) and will get free U.S. shipping. (Normal shipping charges apply as of January 22.)

Instant Gratification

Friday, December 14 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

I'm sitting at a book-signing table at the Hastings store on Tramway Boulevard with my friend and fellow author Gary A. Wilson. Somehow, through a miracle of grace (and Gary's enthusiasm for my book), I've managed to sell three copies of The MoonQuest, even though I've felt thoroughly ungrounded and largely incoherent since arriving here.

A young couple approaches our table. As is often the case, it's the woman who's the reader. She picks up The MoonQuest and, instead of scanning the back cover, immediately begins reading from page one.

Her eyes and face begin to glow with pleasure. It's clear she doesn't want to put it down.

"I love it," she exclaims, "the names...the places...the story. I love it!"

I sign it for her and she and her friend move on, leaving me profoundly grateful -- not for the sale but for the light in her eyes as she read my words.

Although, I've been blessed with good reviews and positive feedback, I've never witnessed someone experiencing my story. I've never been gifted with the immediacy of a reader's delight. I've never experienced the instant gratification of a reader's instant gratification.

It's a rare privilege -- one closed to most authors. Tonight, I have seen the impact of my words in real time and I'm humbled by the power of the story that lives within me, the story that lives within us all.