Client Novel

Dev Edit

21750 of 65000 words (33%) complete


Novel Edit

150 of 150 pages (100%) complete

Core Clear

Nonfiction Edit

150 of 300 pages (50%) complete

'Word Flow'

Non-fiction Edit

60 of 180 pages (33%) complete

'Green Glow'

Sci-Fi Series, Vol. 1

30 of 150 pages (20%) complete

'The Return'

Supernatural Novella

150 of 150 pages (100%) complete

On Soulful Gifts

What if our world is starving for soulful gifts only you carry? ~Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

As a creative writer, or any other kind of artist, one has the potential to be aligned with the Anima Mundi. It is as if the artist is able to tune into, or listen to the heartbeat, of the world and life. It is in this way that we know the world, archetypes (which inform the characters, settings and situations that we capture in stories), and even dimensions of our own Soul and personality, from the Divine to shadow. We may most feel the Anima Mundi when we are in flow, feeling joyful, loving, expansive, and creative, when we fell a sense of oneness with all that is.

The world soul (Greek: ψυχή κόσμου, Latin: Anima mundi) is, according to several systems of thought, an intrinsic connection between all living things on the planet, which relates to our world in much the same way as the soul is connected to the human body.    ~

As humans, as creatives, each of us has “soulful gifts,” as Dr. Estés terms them.

Soul gifts

Soul gifts

In our life’s journey we, hopefully, discover our Soulful gifts and create a body of work to share them with others. Many writers, many people, in fact, have an impulse to story… the impulse to share a message with others (often this manifests as a desire to write a book). We can nurture our Soulful creative expression and flow by facilitating this impulse (rather than allowing our fearful, or negative, inner critic—or other sub-personality—to cut off our flow and criticize or shut down our impulse).

Sometimes, it is not enough to give ourselves permission to write (or merely decide to do so). We must, some of us, do inner work (using tools such as Voice Dialogue, originated by Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone) to facilitate an epiphany which encourages, or allows, us to write. We call this working with a block.

To clear a significant creative or writing block, one must access  | process | release the block. Blocks often Demon-Release-2are whole being (because humans have a whole being), meaning they have energetic, emotional, mental and physical/kinesthetic components. This isn’t as complicated as it may sound.

To work with the emotional aspect of a block, one facilitates a catharsis of the emotional blocking creativity. To work with the mental aspect of a block, one facilitates an epiphany… to release an outdated belief or idea. To work with the energetic and physical/kinesthetic components of a block, one uses a method of cellular release.

An integrated method of access  | process | release (generally a body-oriented process work that cultivates epiphany) can usually address the issue. Often this means a combined approach, a sort of Gestalt process meets Person Centered therapy facilitation with energetic and physical/kinesthetic release components.

The point of this is to facilitate creative and life transformation that is whole being.

Emotional catharsis and cultivating an epiphany are in themselves, not usually, enough to facilitate powerful and pervasive change. Because of the nature of cellular memory, the way that trauma, or any unresolved life experience, is stored in the body and being (if we are not fully present to and so access  | process | release an experience entirely at the time of the event), it is necessary for any release to also be energetic and physical/kinesthetic.

I find expressive arts therapy combined with energy psychology tools and techniques (including ancient tools from applied indigenous studies, meaning shamanism) to be singularly powerful tools, in combination with depth psychology facilitation techniques (from Psychosynthesis, to Gestalt, Rational Emotive Therapy, NLP, hypnosis, Person Centered facilitation techniques (Rogerian) and others).

Whatever tools we use to free our creativity and Soulful gifts, to align with the Animus Mundi, and our own positive Animus or Anima, I believe word flow is worth the price of admission.

Mr. Psychic .99c Sale for Kindle

Check out the post on KB & T and show ‘Mr. Psychic’ the love (please “Like” on Facebook or the blog’s web page for this specific post)! x♡

Are you ever too old to find yourself (and the woman of your dreams)?

Sometimes you have to lose it all to find everything…

Divorced with one grown up son, George has only his retirement to look forward to. Carefully scrimping and saving for his future life of expectant ease, he gets the shock of his life when he is let go from his employment.

With his entire retirement in serious jeopardy, George is thrown into a panicked tailspin. Facing a job market heavily skewed towards youth, he finds out first hand exactly what aging means in America today. Ignored by employers, to the point of invisibility, and after many entirely useless excursions into the employment market (can you say humiliating job interviews?), George takes the only job that is offered to him: he becomes a telephone psychic.

Encounter out for Kindle!

Just how far would you go to escape your cubicle?

Would you break Intergalactic Federation laws to do so?

Two extraterrestrials, who aren’t supposed to interfere with humans under any circumstances, transform the consciousness of a slothful human man, and accidentally set earth and humanity up for total annihilation.

What you Get:

  • Alien Buddy Road Trip/Alien Invasion novel of 59,000 words


N and his clone N2 are ready to make some memories in the happiest place on earth (even if they have to lie, steal, and break Intergalactic Federation laws to do so). N2 is bored out of his mind. He hates his cubicle job for Zycorp. When N, the alien that he is an exact genetic copy of, practically loses their retirement, N2 convinces him to interfere with their human subject Hank the janitor. Hank, a former expert of linear perturbations, with a gift for theoretical genius, spends his days swobbing floors at Los Alamos Research Laboratories and his nights in a drunken stupor. After N and N2 use a piece of high-tech equipment, the Quantum Mind Jump, to tweak Hank’s consciousness, the situation quickly spirals out of control. With alien beings of all kinds protesting for human rights, Zycorp orders the destruction of humanity. N and N2 take a road trip to hide on earth. Will Hank morph into horrific mutant, explode, and make an enormous mess? Will N and N2 ever make it to the happiest place on earth? You’ll have to read ‘Encounter’ to find out.

So Many Projects, So Little Singularity

It’s true. I have a great many in-progress projects. Being highly prolific (at starting) is a R-hemisphere preferential experience. It’s a matter of vision-impression-idea-prose fragment-imagery-dialogue fragment-feeling-thought-flow = concept. I used to be more uncomfortable with having so many projects in-progress, all of those works somewhere between ephemeral ideation and completed project.

At a certain point, I had to figure out a way to deal with my rampant, unfettered and wildly creative R-hemisphere. So, I came up with an idea that actually works for me. For some time, I have communicated to my unconscious (inner audio), that I am not interested in new ideas, but rather completion of (or solutions to) existing concepts. I also, on more than one occasion, told myself (really my mind, again this was inner audio), that, although generally disinterested in new concepts, I was extremely open to series concepts and also wished my mind to puzzle out endings, or other plot points, for in-progress works. It’s been a very useful practice, these primitive attempts to direct the unconscious.

It’s been rather a bit like saying, “No, you can’t keep playing Candy Land, instead you must keep returning to that Rubik’s CandyLandCube and attempt to solve it.” You probably have to love puzzles and games, as much as I do, to enjoy that metaphor. Playing Candy Land is a visual treat, really luscious and high-vibe, so colorful and magical. Yet the failure to find creative and expressive singularity is a terrible trap, the kind of waking dream that an R-hemisphere preferential person would do well to avoid. Luckily, I love solving puzzles as well, which makes the ongoing study of story structure, one of the greatest challenges of writing both fiction and non-fiction, a near fascination for me. Oh, frabjous creative dilemma.

For the most part, my unconscious has largely complied, and been quite good about presenting no new creative (book, business, product, project ideas), and I have conceived of three series. Now my unconscious is set to seek for completion (check back with me in a year or so and we’ll see how that panned out), no small feat for a predominately R-hemisphere creative. So, yes, I am in conscious pursuit of singularity of focus, an outer integration and individuation that is reflective of an inner integration and individuation.

Related to all of this, I am mid brand integration; I hope to integrate Word Flow and Core Clear into something extraordinary. Related to that, I’m terribly excited, think jumping up and down, to be returning to grad school, to study art therapy, counseling, as well as applied indigenous studies (otherwise known as shamanism). So much synchronicity and flow, related to that. Much of the outer flow seems to directly follow increased inner work (expressive arts, Celtic shamanic energy work, and Voice Dialogue–largely Inner Child and Inner Infant, deep cellular release, and so forth) and out reality clearing. To my great surprise, I have almost entirely scanned all of my documents, notes and other research materials for various works-in-progress. The single thing remaining that I could scan would be my HBDI hemispheric (and limbic) preference test results from 2003.

The stars are lining up for my sojourn into a new dream time, as my creative and spiritual sabbatical in Florida will be coming to an end in late May. Time for me to jump back in my non-fiction project. Here’s to your creative flow and fulfillment of your creative and Soul purpose.

Ps. Do have a new fiction book coming out (hopefully by the end of this month), a sci-fi comedy collaboration with terribly creative author, screenwriter and playwright, my dear friend, Dermot Davis. I know I’ve mentioned the book, ‘Encounter,’ before yet it is so, so funny to me. It’s a feel good alien buddy road trip movie meets alien invasion comedy.

Mr. Psychic Kindle #free 12/15~*

Are you ever too old to find yourself (and the woman of your dreams)?

Because sometimes you have to lose it all in order to find everything…

Becoming a grandfather at the age of 60 and divorced with one grown up son, George has only his retirement to look forward to. Carefully scrimping and saving for his future life of expectant ease, he gets the shock of his life when he is let go from his employment.

With his entire retirement in serious jeopardy, George is thrown into a panicked tailspin. Facing a job market heavily skewed towards youth, he finds out first hand exactly what aging means in America today. Ignored by employers, to the point of invisibility, and after many entirely useless excursions into the employment market (can you say humiliating job interviews?), George takes the only job that is offered to him: he becomes a telephone psychic.

In the fight for his own financial survival, George is forced to dig deep and find out exactly what he is made of. And then he meets Mimi. It is in the act of being forced down a path that he did not choose that George finds not just himself but the woman that has been missing from his life, all along.

Had he stayed true to the imagined life that he was sure he always wanted, then true love and true happiness would have passed him right by…

What you’ll Get:

Mr. Psychic out for Kindle

Mr. PsychicMr. Psychic is a wonderful read! Dermot Davis and H. Raven Rose transform the main character, George, from a priggish elitist who thinks he has his life perfectly planned into Mr. Psychic, a soulful, open and loving human being. It’s a fun journey and you’ll love the characters.

~Linda S. Amstutz, Amazon Review

Collaboration can be really fun, a wild creative ride that generates great energy and make the writing process as, or more, enjoyable than writing solo. Except when it isn’t. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced a more positive creative collaborative experience than when writing the feature film script for, and then novelizing, ‘Mr. Psychic’ with writer and author Dermot Davis.

I came up with the idea when conceptualizing short film concepts for the Producers Guild of America Weekend Shorts Contest (the first annual competition in 2011, supporting the Debra Hill Foundation). As a creative exercise, even though we didn’t know the parameters of the short film requirements (we wouldn’t get that info until the weekend began), the producers wanted me to come up with 20+ short film concepts.

It was a really stimulating creative process, even though none of those ideas became our short film (the contest was in October and Debra Hill, may G-d rest her Soul, is known for her horror film work, so the films had specific character, setting, props, and other requirements).

One really interesting thing that came from the short film conceptualizing process, however, were two ideas that I loved so much that I immediately saw them as full-length features. One of those ideas was ‘Mr. Psychic.’ Just the thought of a character, really rather proper and angst-ridden over his retirement accounts, who is let go and then can’t get hired… except as a telephone psychic was laugh-out-loud funny. The other especially compelling idea was for ‘Brown Dwarf Spawning: Green Glow Vol. 1′ (I didn’t write the screenplay yet and the novel concept evolved into a 4 part series; I’ve begun the first novel but am not certain when I’ll complete it).

Flash forward a couple months. I happened to be pitching to a production companythey liked the short horror screenplay adaptation of my play ‘Dark Eros’ (now a novel) and were thinking of shooting itthen mid-meeting they wanted to hear about what else I was working on. Knowing they were looking for content for an older A-list star, I pitched ‘Mr. Psychic.’ They loved the idea and wanted the script. So I rushed back to Silver Lake and Dermot and I co-wrote it over several days.

It’s always great when someone loves a concept yet, knowing that particular actor’s body of work, ‘Mr. Psychic’ isn’t really right for him. That guy does dashing, debonair and sophisticated… not uptight, retirement and money-obsessed, spiritually repressed, angst-ridden 60-something loner and avoidance addict, whose world threatens to crash and burn when his department is outsourced and he’s fired. So, although nothing happened with the pitch, and we haven’t pitched the script to anyone else, Dermot and I decided to novelize it this year.

The story is quite heartful; neither of us write stories without redemption, yet it’s also so terribly funny. It’s about a man, George Beresford II, who loses himself (and nearly everything in his life) only to find himself… his authentic heart and Soul expression, and the love of his life. Like so many of us, George is sorely tested by his life circumstances and, when fate offers him a chance to return to his old life, he must choose between his old dream and his new reality.

Are you ever too old to find yourself? George Beresford II never back-packed around Europe. Straight out of college, he became a devoted productive employee, an accountant in the world of finance. A grandfather at age 60, divorced with one adult son, George has only retirement to look forward to. George gets the shock of his life when he’s fired and, after a series of humiliating failed job interviews, the only job he can get is as a telephone psychic. Although he loves his new job, is good at it, and is making good money, George is ashamed of his “new-age” gig and keeps it a secret from family and friends. Then a series of incidents threatens the fragile financial hold he has regained and he must make a choice. Will he return to to the imagined life of quiet control and obsession with retirement funds, which he was sure he always wanted, or will he come out as ‘Mr. Psychic’ and prevent true love and happiness from passing him by?

(✓) 74K word novel ‘Mr. Psychic’ DARK COMEDY w/ HEART
(✓) BONUS CONTENT: 1st chapter ‘Stormy Weather‘ by Dermot Davis (3500 words)
(✓) BONUS CONTENT: 1st chapter ‘Shadow Selves‘ by H. Raven Rose (4800 words)

Just Beat It, Inner Critic! @DermotDavis1 and I have got #wordflow

Dirty Diana: Michael Jackson

You’ll never make me stay… So take your weight off of me… I know your every move so won’t you just let me be… I’ve been here times before but I was too blind to see… That you seduce every man this time you won’t seduce me…

What I love about “Dirty Diana,” in the context of creativity, is that the song can be a metaphor for recognizing and choosing to avoid false creative ideas. The Inner Critic, a dangerous angel in the unconscious of an artist, isn’t known for creative freedom. Also, Inner Critic ideals of perfectionism may be be fair on seductive.

Creatively speaking, is there anything more fun than finding #wordflow? I wrote about flow for screenwriters in my undergraduate thesis in screenwriting which you can find online. I’m thinking about creativity a great deal, as I’m in the middle of two projects (collaborations with Irish author, screenwriter and playwright Dermot Davis) and starting a new book of my own. Hopping between projects, when I have generally preferred an immersion to conclusion writing practice, is affecting my creativity. Another factor expanding my creativity, my word flow, is my ongoing personal development.

“Flow” is a general state described in Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (4). He defines flow as “the state in which people are soinvolved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable . . . that people will do it . . . for the sheer sake of doing it .”

I’m having a creative break-though. It has to do with both an Inner Child epiphany around an illogical conclusion drawn in childhood and a new understanding of the relationship between artistic quality and quantity. I wrote a bit more about the Inner Child realization on SheWrites (yet have subsequently deleted that account). To sum up, as a girl I’d decided that pain (physical, emotional or otherwise) was the result of my own imperfection. A, quite natural, desire to avoid pain has led to long-standing issues of perfectionism. The problem with perfectionism is that it leads to inferior creative work.


Bastet, photo by Rama

You may not buy into that statement.

A study, which I learned about in the last couple of months, that corresponds to my own natural inner process and related shifts in consciousness, reveals that it is quantity in art creation, not striving for perfection, which leads to creating quality art.

To be clear. Striving for quality will lead to inferior work. Striving to create a body of work, a great quantity, is more likely to lead to superior, or quality, work. The study itself was written about in Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. The book is twenty years old yet it is brand new to me.

“To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do–away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes.” ~Art and Fear (quoted here, in a great blog post by DailyArtMuse)

I really wasn’t ready for the concept of quantity = quality previously. Some part(s) of me, an Inner Child, or other parts of self, were attached to (really buying into) the concept of good enough. It is only recently, in the last several months, that I have more fully recognized how truly subjective appreciation of any art form-books included-is. It is becoming clear to me that people’s opinions about my art, or the art of others, doesn’t matter one bit. It’s funny. Books that I think are great have negative, and sometimes downright nasty, reviews on Amazon. Other books, which I do not think are great, sometimes have terrific reviews on Amazon. Pandering aside, all art is subjective.subjective

The meaning, beauty, intrinsic value, and/or benefit of an artistic experience, is unique to the experiencer. This has been a huge epiphany to the aforementioned Inner Child aspect of my consciousness.

And, on top of that, what I’ve learned about ‘Art and Fear’ makes it clear that creative quantity is essential to create quality work. If what I’m writing about here is old hat to you, doesn’t really sound that profound, then I would expect that you are massively creative. If you aren’t creative near constantly, then understand that I’m describing a body-oriented epiphany, a change in my being occurring at the cellular level, which isn’t about being smart or understanding a concept intellectually.

So, I’m paying attention to and deepening my body awareness of, and avoiding being seduced by, false ideas and ideals around creativity and writing.

It’s a numbers game. It’s an inside job. But then, it always is… isn’t it. So, I’ve been writing from the intention that I’m the sole Soul–no one else exists. It’s terribly creatively freeing and extremely energizing. I’m harmonizing with my wildly creative self… a cat. Like Bast; she’s curious and a warrior. She’s the perfumed protector; wildly fertile, prolific, energized, and on the move, she creates for the pure joy of it. Meow.

David Mamet on Marketing

Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet


Blake/Baldwin: Oh, have I got your attention now? Good. ‘Cause we’re adding a little something to this month’s sale contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is your fired. You get the picture? You laughing now? You got leads. Mitch and Murray paid good money. Get their names to sell them. You can’t close the leads you’re given, you can’t close shit, you are shit, hit the bricks pal and beat it ’cause you are going out.

Levine/Lemmon: The leads are weak.

Blake/Baldwin: The leads are weak. The fuckin’ leads are weak? You’re weak. I’ve been in this business 15 years …

Moss/Harris: What’s your name?

Blake/Baldwin: Fuck you, that’s my name. You know why mister? Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an 80,000 dollar BMW. That’s my name. (To Lemmon) And your name is you’re wanting. You can’t play in the man’s game, you can’t close them? Then go home and tell your wife your troubles. Because only one thing counts in this life. Get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me you fuckin’ faggots.
(Flips the blackboard)

ABC. A, Always, B, Be, C, Closing. Always be closing. Always be closing. AIDA. Attention. Interest. Decision. Action. Attention. Do I have your attention? Interest. Are you interested? I know you are ’cause it’s fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks. Decision. Have you made your decision for Christ? And action. AIDA. Get out there. You got the prospects coming in, you think they came in to get out of the rain? A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you their money. Are you going to take it? Are you man enough to take it? (To Harris) What’s the problem, pal?

Moss/Harris: You, boss, you’re such a hero, you’re so rich, how come you’re coming down here and wasting your time with such a bunch of bums?

Blake/Baldwin: You see this watch? You see this watch?

Moss/Harris: Yeah.

Blake/Baldwin: That watch costs more than your car. I made 970,000 dollars last year, how much you make? You see pal, that’s who I am, and you’re nothing. Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father. Fuck you, go home and play with your kids. You want to work here, close. You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cock-sucker. You can’t take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit. If you don’t like it, leave. I can go out there tonight, the materials you got, make myself 15,000 dollars. Tonight. In two hours. Can you? Can you?

Go and do likewise. AIDA. Get mad you son-of-a-bitch. Get mad. You know what it takes to sell real-estate? It takes brass balls to sell real estate. Go and do likewise, gents. The money’s out there, you pick it up, it’s yours, you don’t, I got no sympathy for you.


Write the Screenplay with Sheila Gallien

I would rather put my hand in the fire than send in a script without having Sheila Gallien read it. Sheila has made every script I’ve written in the last six years much stronger, more dramatic, and much more successful. She is that rarest of rarities: a careful, vigilant, constructive critic.

~William Broyles, Jr.


Sheila Gallien,

My friend Sheila Gallien, über talented story and script consultant, former assistant to top screenwriter Bill Broyles, Jr. (the guy whose screenplays include the Robert Zemeckis-directed Cast Away and The Polar Express, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, Clint Eastwood’s Flags Of Our Fathers and Sam Mendes’ Jarhead, and also the fabu TV series China Beach, which he co-created), is having a *FREE* webinar for screenwriters! Woohoo~*

Sheila is really great at helping writers with accessing the heart of their story so that they can get that onto the page. This webinar is for anyone, even if you’ve never written a screenplay or if you’ve written twenty.

Sheila Gallien Screenplay Consulting PRESENTS:

“How YOU Can Find the Tools and TALENT to WRITE the SCREENPLAY You Always Wanted To Write! (Whether or Not You Have Written One Before…)”

Click to sign up>> HERE.

Sheila Gallien Bio

Sheila Gallien acted as the assistant and development muse for six years for Academy Award-nominated screenwriter William Broyles, Jr., during more than 100 drafts of Cast Away, and countless more of Planet of the Apes, Unfaithful, Entrapment, and other ambitious and inspired screenplays that never made it the screen.  She has been in creative meetings with actors Tom Hanks, Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta Jones, directors Jonathan Demme, Antoine Fuqua, Robert Zemeckis, and Adrian Lyne, studio head Elizabeth Gabler (Life of Pi) and producers Lynda Obst, Rhonda Tollefson, and the unsung heroes, the producing partners and junior executives of these powerful creatives.  She worked as a literary agent’s assistant at Creative Artists Agency for an agent who serviced directors, producers, actors and writers, so was privy to the packaging of films from every element.  While at CAA she absorbed the story process from a creative and marketing perspective, and summarized and created meeting notes for in-house pitch sessions for Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn, Oliver Stone, Francis Coppola, Brad Pitt and many others.  She studied Theater Arts, creative writing and literary criticism; her first gig as a dramaturg was with the San Francisco Mime Troupe at a Summer Arts college program.  She has been putting together and taking apart stories for a really long time, and, over the years, has consulted for professional writers and production companies, including Bill Broyles, the writers of Hysteria, contest winners and amateurs of all levels.  In her own writing she has been hired as a screenwriter, has an agent, has had multiple script options, has had stars and directors attached to her work, and knows that everything takes forever but it is SO worth it.  Her recent inspiration to teach how to build stories from the inside comes after years of deconstruction, and the observation that stories fall apart if they are not connected to their creators.

I Come from a Land Down Under, the Chthonic Realm

“Within every man there is the Reflection of a Woman, and within every woman there is the Reflection of a Man,” writes the American Indian Hyemeyohsts Storm, who is stating not his own personal opinion, but an ancient American Indian belief,” (Hyemeyohsts (Wolf) Storm, Seven Arrows, p. 14. New York: Harper and Row, 1962).

~John A. Sanford, ‘The Invisible Partners: How the Male and Female in Each of Us Affects Our Relationships’

In considering how to consistently access word flow, it is clear that one must align with the positive Anima/Animus as well as cultivate personal will to maximize creative expression. Cultivating or developing personal will is a complex topic, one that I haven’t considered in depth and don’t consciously know a great deal about and don’t plan to discuss at length in this post. However, most likely there is a relationship between experiencing a strong will (and I’m primarily thinking in terms of taking creative action, whether writing or making some kind of art) and ones driving creative force (the Anima/Animus).

In considering the Anima/Animus, it may be quite useful to recognize that this is a part of our unconscious and resides in the chthonic realm. The chthonic realm is the kingdom of the unconscious (or deep subconscious, anything not on the threshold of awareness). That domain is, quite naturally, where both the best and worst of our human being-ness, artistic sub-personalities included, resides. I think of that which is chthonic as down, or within (in thinking of consciousness dimensionally).

“Envy, lust, sensuality, deceit, and all known vices are the negative, ‘dark’ aspect of the unconscious, which can manifest itself in two ways. In the positive sense, it appears as a ‘spirit of nature’, creatively animating Man, things, and the world. It is the ‘chthonic spirit’ that has been mentioned so often in this chapter. In the negative sense, the unconscious (that same spirit) manifests itself as a spirit of evil, as a drive to destroy.”

~Carl G. Jung, ‘Man and His Symbols

In reading and pondering the previous quote by Dr. Jung, one can understand how the chthonic realm holds the key to our creative force (Anima/Animus). Additionally, in considering both the shadow and positive of the Anima/Animus, then we recognize that the chthonic realm is where the inner critic resides.

CriticCuriously, the sub-personality that is the polar opposite of the critic, or the negative Anima/Animus, would be a praiser (or complimenter) sub-personality. Jung describes the positive Anima/Animus in the following way:

“The positive animus tries to discern and discriminate.”

~Jung, The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy, p. 304 (1954)

So, the point of the positive animus is to discern in order to make good, or better, choices. The negative animus is a critic; expressed in the extreme it maligns, doubts, and finds fault with, creative ideas and/or expression. A creative woman whose negative Animus is allowed free reign, may find herself entirely unable to create.

HRR Negative Animus

HRR Negative Animus

In brain-science terms, the negative Animus is receiving input from the RAS (reticular activating system), which is avoiding any possible source of pain. For an artist, pain that is desirable to avoid is the feeling of rejection, harsh negative critical feedback, feeling shame or dejection, and so on. The positive of the negative Animus, in that sense, is a desire to protect the whole being, consciously or unconsciously, from feeling pain and/or like a failure. So much of life is measured.

The desire to be, and belief that we can be, perfect is the illusion, or fantasy, of the negative Animus. If I am good enough, perfect, lovable, my art, my writing, my creation, and/or my own self, will be accepted and/or even loved (or at least I will avoid criticism and rejection).

In that sense, a negative Animus holds child-like illusions, pure fantasy, about reality.

Reality (and results gained from efforts, creative or otherwise) is impossible to control or gauge. Prior to creating, or taking action, we cannot know what the results will be. We may appear to succeed, or fail, according to our personal valuations.

That perceived success or failure of our endeavors, creative or otherwise, is affected by timing, opportunity, and so many other variables, or factors. When we educate the negative Animus in this idea, and recognize the absolute truth of this concept, that there is no usefulness in creating for success, we are able to separate the results of our creativity from our ability to take creative action.

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life writes about the power of “shitty first drafts” and that “perfectionism” is the enemy (I personally am not entirely opposed to perfectionism, I’m more opposed to allowing a negative Animus, whether an inner critic obsessed with trying to be perfect, or some other negative Animus expression, to inhibit my wild creativity and word flow):

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

~Anne Lamott

What is the answer, then, for writers and other artists? How do we heal the inner critic or negative Anima/Animus?

Epiphany, the aha! of illumination, understanding something, must translate into different creative behavior (the evidence of a healed formerly negative Anima/Animus). The blocked artist, whether male or female, a writer or otherwise, does not take creative action or else it is a draining, slow, tedious process. Creative progress, in terms of output and enjoyment of the creative process, is hard won… if gained at all.

There are tools to resolve unresolved gestalts, such as dialogue with sub-personalities, including parts of self that may be crippled by the negative Anima/Animus, and other tools and techniques. This post is already long, so I will share voice dialogue, expressive arts, and other exercises for working with the negative Anima/Animus in coming posts.

For now “write as if you were dead,” advice given to John Waters by Brendan Kennelly, and a topic that Waters writes about in his recent Irish Times article, which was blogged (though, as you’ll read in the post, he writes for the print edition of the paper and it is uploaded by the IT).

If one were dead, there would be no consequences, emotional or otherwise, from creative expression. There would be no admiration or hatred from fans or critics. There would be… nothing. When you’re dead, you’re dead. There are no emotions in death, and the dead have no idea what the living have to say about them, so if you “write as if you were dead,” you could create freely and write without inhibition.

Word flow is, quite frankly, as you probably know (if you’ve experienced it), quite electrifying and energizing. It feels good. Time flies and a writer is highly productive and enjoys the creative process, much more, when experiencing word flow. You could say accessing, or releasing blocks to, word flow is a walk on electric avenue.

To your word flow.

Flow and the negative Animus, when a creative woman can’t create…

Sometimes I feel like creating, often writing, yet am unable to do so. It’s generally because there is some other expression of my heart and Soul that is crucial for me to communicate at that time. Perhaps I need to be with and journal about something, a dream, a situation, emotion or an experience. Other times, a critical part of self, or sub-personality, judges my writing and work as imperfect, unworthy, somehow lacking or deficient, and so on. At those times I use Voice Dialogue or an Expressive Arts technique to explore the issue.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés in her book, “Women who Run with the Wolves,” writes about nourishing the creative life. She describes the difficulty some women have in creating, due to challenges in the development of their animus.

I would describe the animus as an unconscious creative force within a woman that allows a left-hemisphere based ability to determine and execute a series of tasks to fulfill a larger goal. Of course, the drive of the animus, whether you consider it masculine or not,  is highly influenced by right-hemisphere expression (emotion, vision, intuition) which could be considered more feminine energies.

Gifted women, even as they reclaim their creative lives, even as beautiful things flow from their hands, from their pens, from their bodies, still question whether they are writers, painters, artists, people, real ones. And of course, they are real ones even though they might like to bedevil themselves with what constitutes with what constitutes “real.” A farmer is a real farmer when she looks out over the land and plans the spring crops. A runner is real when she takes the first step, a flower it real when it is yet in its mother stem, a tree is real when it is still a seed in the pinecone. An old tree is a real living being. Real is what has life.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estés

That quote is from the section of the book called Clear Water: Nourishing the Creative Life. It describes in great detail this “masculine-within-the-feminine” that offers access to our ability to take creative and other action. A fascinating part of this section of her book are the paragraphs which cover what it is like when a woman is afflicted with a negative animus and starts and stops without finishing (projects, classes, activities, and so on).

Estés writes that, “These are the deformed life forms. These are La Llorona’s poisoned children.” La Llorona is a story about a woman who drowns her children by throwing them in a river and dies of grief on the riverbank but when she goes to heaven learns that she cannot stay there until she returns to the river and recovers the souls of her children (the story is recounted in full in this chapter and Estés describes the meaning of the metaphor and its application to the creative life of women today). She writes that the story is all about “the weakening and the wasting of a woman’s creative process.” Essentially the story is a warning to women, a moral tale about what will happen if we do not protect our creative expression. In the story, the woman, her two sons, and even the river itself (her creative flow) die or are poisoned.

H. Canis Lupis

H. Canis Lupis

The chapter goes on to describe the importance of keeping our creative river clear, not muddying it by allowing some sub-personality, or force with us, even our animus, to take over and create for impure reasons. Further in the chapter you can read about the “negative animus” and how it poisons a woman’s ability to create.

I don’t know what the correlate is like for men, related to the anima; though I am certain there Estés book could be useful to a male creative.

However, whatever one’s gender, when an individual cannot conceptualize and create to fruition, they have an opportunity for transformation or healing. As Estés writes, for women, “here something is wrong with the animus and therefore the ability to manifest and implement one’s ideas in the world.” I love what she writes about how we deal with the issue of a negative animus.

We have to go into the sludge and look for it all. Like La Llorona, we have to drag the river for our soul-life, for our creative lives. And one more thing, also difficult: We must clean up the river so La Llorona can see, so she and we can find the souls of the children and be at peace to create again.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estés

The thing about a damaged, or negative, animus is that it poisons anything a woman starts to create. Like an inner critic, it contaminates a woman’s consciousness with belief that her work is not enough and so on. Curiously, when I was typing the quote above, at first I typed “Real is what is left.” (The correct phrase was, “Real is what has life.”) What an interesting Freudian slip that I made in typing. Truly what has life is alive and yet it also remains, it is left (meaning residual or present). That could be an experience, an idea, creative or otherwise, and so on.

In reflecting upon the typo further, I conclude that the parapraxis points to the residual that is real for me. What is residual, which can contaminate and is a real threat to my creativity and heart and Soul expression, is often old trauma and/or painful life experiences. I know that sometimes I have had such grief, pain, upset, fear, and so on, about childhood and other challenging life experiences, that it was necessary to access, process, and release those to unblock my creative flow. My river was polluted and releasing emotional, mental, and other debris, in expressive arts, writing, journaling, or otherwise, was required–before my river of creativity could express anything else.

The key aspect to animus development is actual manifestation of inner thoughts, impulses, and ideas.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Estés specifies that we must be “wild” to clean up our polluted river of creative flow. To censor nothing. To stream ideas, expression, creative works. To strengthen and cultivate our animus we must exercise it, Estés writes. We must protect it by allotting time for creativity, setting strong creative boundaries, so that we can craft our “real work.” Her recipe for nourishing the creative life requires: time, belonging, passion and sovereignty. When we create a life that nourishes our creativity, and re-build our (or “seat a new”) animus, our river of creativity flows and we are free to create. It is in balancing the left and right hemispheres of the neocortex and cultivating our receptive (feminine) and active (masculine) ways of being and expressing in the world that facilitates creative and/or word flow.