As a writer I strike a chord on your neuron strings; my words are my pick, my novel a bow; you are the instrument, my story the melody, your emotions the harmonics, my emotions resonance; the crescendo you and me vibrating in unison – there is no audience in a performance like this.
30,000 words into a story is where the hard work begins. Up until then you can improvise and go with the flow. But at this point things have to start to fit together and make some kind of sense. Every word you write limits the possibilities for what you can write next.
From here on you need craftsmanship rather than creativity. You need to decide where you’re going and use a suitable narrative structure to get there. Anyone can write a good beginning. But only those who manage to push through and tie it all up neatly will finish a novel.
It’s like going for a relaxing run along a scenic path you like – only to realize you’re suddenly lost in the dark part of the woods. It becomes an orienteering race in difficult terrain and the map is smudged so you have to guess where the important control points are.
All work and no play, you know. So no wonder it’s easy to get trapped at that magical point. I suppose it doesn’t matter how skilled in writing or how creatively visionary someone is. The most important trait to becoming an author is perseverance.
Don’t get stuck in the bog.
As a writer I know how fun and rewarding it can be to explore long stories with massive world-building in a series of novels. But I also know how easy it is to get trapped and unable to work outside an increasingly narrow perspective.
We all want more of what we enjoy, and I’m certainly no exception to that. This makes it much safer to bet money on continuing existing franchises than taking a risk with something new. But eventually this repetition can also make us saturated and bored.
Sometimes I find the limited more intriguing. I don’t need every mystery explained. I don’t always want to know the whole backstory of the mysterious stranger in the background. I don’t like to be told exactly what happened ever after every time.
I want at least some stories to end with a trust in me to continue the narrative. Every now and then I want to be given room for speculation and my own conclusions. Sometimes I want to connect the dots myself – even if they are invisible.
Not everything has to have a sequel.
The opening line of a book
should be a tuning fork
for the readers mind
so it can harmonize with the story.
The advantage of exceptional skills in cooperation combined with a great diversity in mindsets and ideas made humanity survive, against the odds, for millions of years. The concept of humans competing against other humans is nothing but psychopathic behavior.
The root cause of this of pathological behavior is external. A few persons, by force or inheritance, have taken control over resources and exploit people to amass enormous amounts of personal wealth. Leaving scraps to everyone else, pitting them against each other.
The problem isn’t people per se, it’s about power and influence.
Solving the trauma of this maladaptive hierarchy would at least be a beginning. But we must somehow reach the unreachable, those who think they’re no longer humans, so that they realize they are nothing more, nothing less, than any other human.
Humans among humans cooperate.
Meaningfulness is a human concept. Like tealfulness. If you like the color teal, which is kind of rare in nature and society, you would probably complain: “My life isn’t tealful enough.” But it’s just another metric – irrelevant to nature. You have to put the teal in yourself.
So, I have an ADHD diagnosis. This was my day yesterday:
- Phase 1: adhd-medicine kicks in.
I want to collect my scattered writings so people can read them.
- Phase 2: medicine at full strength.
Wow, who wrote all this, it’s brilliant!
- Phase 3: medicine starts to wear off.
How ambitious and creative I used to be…
- Phase 4: medicine drops really low.
Existential crisis! Who am I? Why do I even write?
- Phase 5: medicine depleted.
I can not take it, I’m too tired, I’ll never write again.
- Phase 6: recovered after medicine.
Okay, I have to update my website right now! I must enhance how to filter and find genres and topics in my writing to enhance readability and enjoyment. I’ll work with this until it’s after 2 am though I have to get up early tomorrow for work.
I was quite amused earlier today when I wrote down this summary of yesterdays wild, and maybe just a bit exaggerated, mood swing.
But then, upon reflection, I had an important insight. The up-like-a-sun-and-down-like-a-pancake of this journey is exactly how my life has always been, though usually extended over days, weeks or months.
Now I could, thanks to my medication, correlate these well known feelings with the exact timing of the ups and downs in my dopamine levels. This made me realize the full extent of how much our feelings are caused by and dependent on our body chemicals – in this case dopamine.
This is a bit simplified, but: High levels of dopamine makes you want to do things, while low levels tells you that something is bad and not worth doing. Having ADHD is to be in a constant battle with the ebb and flow of dopamine. This is what the medication tries to alleviate.
I try to remember this when I’m hit by the occasional feeling that: “I’m a bad writer and I should stop writing.” Understanding that this feeling is not connected to my actual self-esteem makes it somewhat easier to endure. The experience yesterday made it even more clear to me.
It’s all caused by dysregulated dopamine levels being lower than they normally should be. These incorrectly low levels create a false feeling of negativity and rejection in the brain. This is of course very hard to distinguish from a normal response to something actually bad.
Recognizing patterns in ones own changing mood, combined with trying to observe the circumstances of the present situation, might make it a bit easier to discern the difference. Is there is an actual reason for negative feelings or is it just a chemical imbalance?
To anyone with an ADHD diagnosis I would dare to say that dysregulation of dopamine is probably almost always the reason for all your excessive self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety and depression.
So whenever you feel bad for something you shouldn’t be feeling that bad for, or at least not for that long, it might very well be your chemicals sending the wrong signals.
It’s not you, it’s your chemicals.
Sometimes I see people on social media claim that: “The civilization is too far gone, let it crash and burn so we can build a new and better society.” Though I understand it stems from disillusion and powerlessness, I think this is a really dangerous sentiment.
Because, unless there is a total annihilation of the human race, there will not be a new society. It will still be the same old one, but worse than ever, broken by climate disasters, famine, plagues and ruthless exploitation by the few with power.
There is no reason whatsoever to believe that ruining all the progress mankind has made so far would somehow be beneficial, or even necessary, to build a better society. We would lose all the good things. And the bad things would still be there.
To most people – yes. even white westerners – this will be living hell. Except for a small, powerful elite, of course. The very rich are already investing in bunkers. Trying to figure out how to keep their guards loyal when money becomes useless. How to stay in power.
Thinking that “It’s easier to start over” is a fallacy that somehow manages to ignore the unfathomable tragedies and countless deaths an actual system collapse would cause. This idea is conditioning people into believing that there is nothing we can do.
We do not live in a perfect world. There is certainly much work to be done, many things to improve. But there is actually less suffering among humans than ever before. And we already have the means and knowledge to make a better world today. Why not build on that?
We need to work with what we got. Starting over is not an option.
Freedom of knife is like freedom of speech. Just as you’re free to speak your mind, you’re also free to use a knife. You can cut bread, paper, woodcarvings and do many other useful things with a knife.
Both freedoms, knife and speech, are however limited. To keep us from hurting each other it’s illegal to stab people. No one (except surgeons) are allowed to use knives on other humans. Fair enough.
There are also some uses of knives that are very inappropriate even if they are not restricted. If you pretend to stab a friend, they might flinch but then you both laugh. All good, it’s a part of your banter.
But you if pretend to stab someone who is living with a death threat or someone who has actually been attacked and hurt, they will be very scared and suffer for real, even if you intended it as a joke.
“People are too sensitive, you can’t terrify anyone anymore!”
If this is how you defend yourself and continue to complain about how your freedom of knife is getting restricted… Well, then I’m afraid you’re most likely very stupid or a psychopath. Either way, leave the knife at home.
There is also a possible side-effect to the pretend. Some dimwitted people might confuse fake stabbings with failed real stabbings and start to believe that stabbings are okay since they see them everywhere.
Knives, like words, are lethal. Don’t stab, make a sandwich.
Once a story is published the author no longer holds authority over it. Any further influence from the writer severed. Any intention behind the choice of words irrelevant. The story becomes it’s own entity. The sole authority of what’s real and what’s our interpretations.
Every thing has, among other characteristics like mass, the inherent property of Additional Value: 1.
Application: If you add a thing to a group of things, the number of grouped things rise by the AV of the new thing, which is 1.
This profound philosophical insight I bestow upon mankind today.
There is a concept in many stories that I’ve been meaning to write an elaborate essay about. But since I never seem get around to it I’ll just write something shorter and less nuanced here and now.
The Chosen One.
I don’t like the concept. Yes, I know it’s a classic archetype, and it’s used in many good stories, though more or less successful. But eventually it gets boring with millions of chosen ones loitering our collective fiction doing heroes journeys ad nauseam.
There is one main thing that bothers me. It’s the notion that The Chosen One, one single person and no one else, can fix this huge problem that society is facing. It is the implication that some persons possess a character superior to everyone else.
Often heritage is invoked. Which makes it even worse by saying that some genes are more noble than others. But however they are chosen, this superiority makes them better at fighting, magic or whatever than those that has already been doing it for years.
I understand that the concept appeals to feelings we all have: “I’m such an ordinary person – I wish I was a secret princess with magical powers about to manifest so I can escape this boring life.” Nothing wrong with delusions of grandeur.
But when stories repeatedly promote salvation from one single person, be it chosen ones, kings, queens or eccentric billionaires, they are fostering the harmful belief that if you’re just “chosen” enough you can and should deal with any problem on your own.
No one is self-sufficient. People are most likely to succeed with the impossible when they work together and help each other. That is our strength as humans. That is the real triumph we need in the final act of the story.
Therefore we need to leave The Chosen One behind and move on by making new stories that instead inspire whole groups of people to go on collective hero’s journeys and help each other.
The ego is a construction that grows more and more rigid with time until it becomes a prison that stops you from exploring and growing. Like a house full of valuables that you can never leave because you have to guard it against thieves.
Ego death, in a magical sense, is a transformation, a temporarily transcendence from self-centeredness, a way of cleaning out bad habits, misconceptions, etc, that bog down the mind, before the inevitable resurrection as a (hopefully) better person follows.
With magic I change reality. But it’s my model of reality that changes, and maybe yours, not actual reality itself. Actual reality may change though, through actions we make as a result of our changes in those inner models of reality.
Our selves do not end in our bodies. It reaches out, especially to other humans, but also to the whole planet. This intertwining makes egoism impossible. The neurons in our brains are wired from how we were raised and what culture we were exposed to. By purpose and coincidence. We got our parents, our friends and our enemies reaching deep into our physical brains.
Based on past experience the brain, in every moment anew, predicts a model of reality. Senses are mostly used as error correction. The brain considers the state of your body and predicts the best course of action to survive and thrive. It predicts thoughts and emotions. It predicts what we experience as our selves. The self is a non-physical concept. Like a projection. Our brain is a prism and our self is the rainbow.
There is no innate self stored somewhere inside us. A newborn have no experience, no self. We are only born with tools and possibilities. With that the self is constructed by interaction and circumstance. Sometimes it is built by chance and habit. Sometimes it becomes a facade that we believe ourselves. But what may feel as different selves are facets of the same thing – your brain trying to make sense of the world to survive.
Modern neuroscience dispels the myth of our human side having to subdue our animal side in a struggle between the reptilian brain versus the neocortex. In fact it is all one unit, one network, developed all at the same time. Emotions are not uncontrollable beasts that live inside your head and your logic is not a shepherd trying to keep them in check. We have more control than we think.
Our brains are so tuned to predict all the time that they predict things that are not real. It predicts that the stick on the ground is a poisonous snake. Because that is better than to mistake a snake for a stick. The downside is when you get anxiety, which is the brain wanting to get away from a potentially dangerous situation, from having to much to do at work, which is rarely life-threatening.
Anxiety and depression could (at least in part) be results of prediction error. The brain shuts down attention and interest in the world to save resources for anticipated action. Comfort eating works because the brain gets satisfied by stocking up on energy that it expects to release, any minute now, as response to an imminent catastrophe. Which mostly never comes.
But, and here the beauty of it finally comes, prediction can be harnessed for many amazing things. We humans have, on top of physical reality, created a new social reality where intangible things exist. Concepts like Sundays, tickets, red means stop, chess, Osiris, social classes, the Cuba crisis. Many wonderful and horrible things that are not real but still affect us and thereby in extension also affect reality. Dreams, fantasy and fiction are predictions without error correction from reality.
Our lives are predictions. We are predictions. We love predictions. We love taking part in prediction-fiction. The fiction of who we are, the fiction of culture, of religion, of stories, songs and paintings. The arts are predictions which from a safe distance gives us the thrill of trying to figure out whether what we see are snakes or sticks.
Our selves don’t exist. We don’t have an I when we are born. I am not something unique or predestined we are born with. It is something we continuously create in the now our entire lives.
We build concepts that we call I from all we experience, or learn, about our bodies, our environment and our social reality. It is not constant, it changes with new knowledge, experience and ideas.
Our selves are inseparable from our bodies. The self is our body. The self change when the body change. Influenced by the self, or other persons selves, the body can in turn also change.
We have one self, but that self has many instances. Created by many networks in the brain it becomes an overlapping palette of personalities that are granted dominance in different situations.
All these concepts we create are what makes up our concept of reality. What we think is real is just a model of reality. The concepts change which causes our perception of reality to change
Working actively with trying to change the self, an by extension changing other peoples selves, by transforming concepts is what I in many previous posts on this website have referred to as magic.
It is however important to remember that magic doesn’t exist, even if it’s real. Because magic is also a concept that we create. Much like our selves. So we use one concept to change another concept.
We are all conceptions.
A human is not one individual being. Inside us all there are many separate systems that negotiates with each other all the time. If you take a Jungian stance the mind consists of the conscious, subconscious and unconscious, all with separate values and goals, that together make up what we think of as our selves.
But the mind does not exist ex nihilo. It all arises from physical processes in our bodies. Our brains contain a multitude of overlapping networks that create many different instances of prediction, conceptualization and decision that compete for dominance.
Add to that the influence of both neurons and bacteria in the gut system, the reflex arcs of the spinal chord and many other autonomic regulatory processes. Then we start to see the complexity of the conglomerate that is a human being. We think with our whole bodies.
And it it does not stop within our bodies. There are numerous external connections that are impossible to omit when considering who we are and how we act. Cultural conventions, social interaction, political discourse, access to resources, different environments, and even the daily change in weather – it all greatly affects us, our behavior and our self-image.
Our minds are inextricably intertwined with the whole body. Our bodies are likewise inextricably interconnected with the whole outside world. We are not isolated individuals. We are highly connected networks. From our innermost thoughts to the utmost edges of the universe.
Our selves never end.
Excite and assemble some energy and it will be quarks. Combine them and they turn into particles, who turn into atoms, to molecules, to chemistry, to biology, to consciousness, to… What new state would combined consciousnesses turn into?
I just had an interesting experience. I was awakedreaming reality. I was incredibly tired this afternoon and laid down in my sofa to rest a bit. Closed my eyes but didn’t fall asleep. I went into that state of mind where you are aware of the surroundings and the sound, but your connection to the body is getting fluid. I thought about various things and then started to dream while still conscious.
I was dreaming that I saw exactly what I should see if I opened my eyes. I felt my eyes being closed but yet I saw my living room in front of me, clearly and vividly, as if my eyes had been open. After a few seconds the phenomena disappeared and I opened my eyes. The angle, field of view and the light in the room was slightly different but it was no difference in how real what I had dreamt and what I now saw with my eyes was. The dream and reality was equally real.
The brain is constantly creating its perception of actual reality in our minds whether the impressions are gathered externally, from our senses, or internally, from our dreams and imagination. This creation of the world doesn’t stop when we are sleeping, the brain never shut down, only our selves. We are always the same corporeal entity, whether we are sleeping or awake, as the conscious or unconscious I is only one of many parts that is us.
Our brains perception of actual reality, what we call existence, is one single continuous dream, as long as the span of our lives.