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Craft - Kim Petersen

Transcend Through Story: Unlock Your Imagination

 

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

~ Albert Einstein

Every now and then, I am drawn into another realm, a wonderous and boundless kingdom where the only factor limiting the possibilities is the scope of my thoughts. I don’t need to go anywhere physically to enter this other world. I could be sitting on my outdoor lounge beneath the sun, or at the beach digging in the sand with my children as they play near the shore. I could even be punching the letters on my keyboard, just as I did when producing this article.  It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always have access to this rich and magical endowment that I can channel anytime and anywhere I choose – my imagination.

Our imagination is one of the greatest gifts we are given and it is as intertwined with the beautiful mystery of life as the certainty of the sun rising at dawn tomorrow. We can’t touch it or taste it, and we can’t hear it or smell it. There are no scientific analytics or mathematical formulas to support its existence, yet we all know it’s there – the invisible thoughts lifting us up and transporting us to other places.

It is imagination that forms the cornerstone of ingenuity. It is essential for the continued evolution of humanity and it is the foundation of all creation.

In his series of texts in The marriage of Heaven and Hell, the 18th century intuitive poet William Blake made this wry comment: “What is now proved was once only imagin’d.” As you consider the simplicity of these words of wisdom and allow them to seep into your essence, your imagination will begin to kick into action.

Take a look around. Everything you see and all you experience with your physical senses emerged from somebody else’s imagination. For something to exist in this world, it must first be anchored firmly into your imagination. Without this perpetual resource, life becomes stifled and creativity is halted.

During his lifetime, Blake was largely considered an outlier for the mystical undercurrents expressed through his creativity – and that’s a nice way of putting it. Yet Blake is now recognized as a seminal figure in the history of poetry for his rich symbolism that embraces imagination as “human existence itself”.

However, William Blake wasn’t alone in his radically insightful views. Throughout the ages, virtually all spiritual teachings speak of the power of imagination; and that invisible formless realm has been bestowed upon you as your birthright.

Our lives today mostly encompass a combination of fast-moving experiences strung together by a series of innovative moments playing out on the leading edge of existence. These are exciting times where revolution appears commonplace, in the form of the technology infiltrating every field from fast food to finances. We’re closer together yet further apart thanks to the internet, and each generation contends with profound social, economic and technological transformations.

A fast-track life with the world at your fingertips can often mean a ceaseless internal merry-go-round spinning around the edges of your soul. It can be overwhelming and stressful, and sometimes we lose sight of the important stuff like love, sacred connections and that beautiful essence peering out from behind your cagey eyeballs.

So, while you’re taking that look around at everything that was once in someone else’s imagination, ask yourself if you’ve neglected your own. Have you left it at the threshold of adulthood to gather the dust of the passing years? Or perhaps your deadlines have highjacked it along with your mortgage repayments.

Maybe. Maybe not.

No one could blame you if you have temporarily misplaced your wild imagination. We are in an age swamped with selfies and Instagram, little Tweets here, and bigger Tweets there. Did someone mention Snapchat? Yeah, I just heard the teenager throw me some backchat.

What’s new?

Your entire life is probably now chronicled on Facebook and you just must keep up with the latest cat memes and viral diarrhea – right?

You’ll also need to remember to pay your bills on time, feed your kids after dance class, follow the rules, and for heaven’s sake – who let out the damned cat? Catch a little Netflix before bed. You may manage something more, if you last that long, because you’re so tired working your butt off to meet the responsibilities that are mounting up somewhere around your hairline, that you feel like your brain will begin to emulsify through your ears.

Meanwhile, you have convinced yourself that it’s completely normal for your eight-year-old to watch adults play with Kinder Surprise toys and Frozen figurines on YouTube just so you can grab a quick five minutes alone and gather your whirling thoughts.

Okay. I might be exaggerating a little. Maybe that scenario doesn’t exactly apply to all of us, or all the time. The point is, most of us are so busy, our childlike imagery often becomes a distant memory we seldom entertain, excluding those Kinder Surprise-playing-grown-ups on YouTube, of course.

In his wonderful book, Wishes Fulfilled, Wayne Dyer says, “Today, quantum physics confirms the universe is made up of formless (spirit) energy, and that particles (that is, things) do not originate from particles.” Meaning everything springs from something akin to your imagination.

Everything.

Think about that for a moment. I bet while contemplating those words something deep within you recognizes the truth. It certainly gets my inner-bells chiming, especially when considering this observation made by the father of quantum physics, Max Plank: “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and, therefore, part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

I don’t know about you, but when I first read those words something unfurled and soared through my being at the realization that science cannot take us through the doors of the divine, no matter how hard we knock. The truth is we are as mysterious and beautiful as life itself, and the power of creation is within all of us. It’s within the places you choose to take your thoughts, and the ideas that seemingly spring from nowhere. And it lives, thrives and breathes through our stories.

Beneath my author name that appears on the banner on my website is the tagline “stories that transcend”. I chose that phrase because I believe story is the perfect instrument in which to nurture the endless creativity of imagination, and I believe it is through story that we can help make the world a better place.

It is particularly true that through fantasy and paranormal storytelling that authors can transport readers to other worlds brimming with magical wonders and spectacular ideas – stories born through the creative forces of imagination that provide an outlet to escape from the demands of modern life as we begin to consider the “what if?”.

Yet, as we ponder the magnificence of stories and imagination, and the escapism they provide to our busy lives, there’s something more at play here. It’s a golden opportunity to snatch back those moments when you dressed up in your favorite super-hero costume and flung yourself off the garage roof; or to reclaim those times when you lost yourself in a world of make-believe that felt so real, you couldn’t quite figure out the difference between the parallel realities.  Nor did you want to.

So, as you turn the pages of a great fantasy, paranormal romance or sci-fi book and immerse yourself in the characters, a tiny spark ignites the dormant embers of your own imagination, in turn reminding you of your own childlike imagery.

Then something happens – the story ends.

Once you’ve read the last line and your fleeting visit to a fictional world has come to an end, you’re often confronted with the reality of your life. The enchanting tendrils of fantasy begin to fade as the weight of the “real world” sets in. Too soon does the inspiration of a great story merge with the internal merry-go-round until it’s lost somewhere in the gray matter of your brain.

But what if you chose to hold on to that feeling? What if you internalized it just a little longer until you have convinced yourself for a few magnificent moments that anything is possible? And what if you danced with the galaxy twinkling beneath your rational thoughts till your essence soared like the inner-child playing make-believe?

Reading the words strung together to form a story created by someone else’s imagination, unknowingly gives us permission to unleash our own. But it’s when we really take the time to ponder this greatest of gifts that we realize the limitless possibilities that abound in us.

Through the mystical chords of imagination, story will help save the world. It is through transcending beyond your daily responsibilities and releasing your imagination that you will expand and enrich your own life.

Imagine that?

Becoming Whole with Catherine Evans

 

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I was a child of the ’80s and grew up with a firm understanding of rules and boundaries and what those restrictions meant to my life. Breaking the rules had consequences I’d rather avoid. I didn’t want my mouth rinsed out with soap, so I didn’t use curse words. I didn’t want to see the hard end of a wooden spoon, so I didn’t chat back to my mother. And I definitely didn’t want to miss out on dessert, so I ate what was put in front of me at dinner time … most of the time. Swallowing and choking on brussels sprouts just wasn’t worth the sweet stuff. Sorry, ma.

Adolescence hit with a hefty side of rebellion. I was that girl – you know, the one that seemed to have all the bright ideas about pushing the boundaries. My geography teacher disliked me so much, she spent parent-teacher night bitching about me to my aunt who had turned up to discuss my cousins academic progress. That went down well. The phone line was red-hot that evening. Maybe I should have thought twice before slicking the teacher’s chair with superglue and darting wet paper bullets through straws all over her classroom.

Hmm. No comment.

Once I passed those rebellious teenage years and emerged into adulthood, I realized the rules for adults were slightly less forgiving and accompanied with much higher stakes. The government want to meet their revenue quota. I don’t want to help them achieve that. I don’t want to go to prison either.

I’m still a rebel at heart. I’m a risk taker, a visionary; a dreamer. I’ll take that leap and bound full-force into unknown territory – even when it terrifies me. For me, life isn’t about conforming or pleasing other people. I’m considerate, compassionate and sympathetic, but being subservient to those traits won’t allow me to shine. Loving and honoring the people in my life doesn’t mean that I have to deny that which lights me up on the inside.

This is how I’m wired. This is why I’m finding that I’m meeting new people that feel and share similar qualities as me – likeminded souls that run full pelt into love and care less about the opinions of others; deep thinkers unashamed of who they are or what they want out of life.

Those rules – the ones that are written, the ones that are not – still exist. We know them and live by them even when we question them. Without them, havoc would reign supreme. Or would it?

Catherine Evans has a vision to change the world.

Sound familiar?

It should because you’re here too and so is your legacy. Changing the world sounds like a momentous task, but I’m going to tell you that it’s not. It begins with the small stuff. It begins with you and me, and the choices we make daily. If every one of us can deliberately compel ourselves to accept all love, kindness, faith and hope, and reject all suffering, sorrow and depression, then perhaps that is how we begin to change the world – from the inside out.

Catherine Evans wants to become whole. She wants to do what lights her up inside and make a difference in the world. I am proud to call her my friend as much as I am proud to introduce her to you.

 

Meet Catherine

 

I write under two pen names, which in some ways is good because it allows readers to find the books they want to read (or more correctly, avoid the books they hate). But there’s a part of me that’s saddened by this.

 

Let me give you a brief summary of me. I’m the eldest child, born into a conservative Catholic family. I am an introvert who avoids conflict, a rebel who doesn’t understand societal rules and strictures. There are two sayings that resonate with me. One is – “Learn the rules properly so you know how to break them.” It hung on my office door for years. It’s one of my beliefs.

 

For me, the introvert avoiding conflict doesn’t go well with a rebel. My rebellions have been rather small and personal. For example, I rarely wear dresses or make-up, and have no clue about fashion. I have long hair that’s not dyed and going gray. I worked in science where most of my colleagues were men. I had sex before marriage. I have no kids. I gave up religion. I kept my surname after marriage – and if it wasn’t for my husband’s strongly held belief in marriage, I would not be married.

 

I hate labels, categories, boxes, systems, rote, generalizations, and rules. I hate mindless following.

 

I love deep thinking and deep discussions, especially where you disagree but keep talking to find out why. I love challenging myself and my thinking.

 

When I started to write for publication, I didn’t realize that books had genres and subgenres and that these had rules. How I didn’t know this is quite amazing because I had read books all my life. In my defense, I submit that I read widely without caring about the genre.  The only option is that the book is interesting. Libraries are set up so the non-fiction is categorized by topic, but fiction is just alphabetical order. To me, that means story books are story books.

 

Not so. I had to learn what box I wanted to write in when I didn’t believe in boxes. I went with romance because I found Romance Writers of Australia who offered help and feedback online. When I narrowed it down to romance, I thought I was right, but no. I learned that I wrote cross-subgenres, which made it hard to market your book.

 

By this stage, it was doing my head in. My stories didn’t fit into niches. I hated niches.

 

While I was writing rural romance incorrectly, I realized I could write erotica and there were far fewer rules with that. When I wrote about sex, and included swearing [cursing], and was thinking about publishing this, my family were appalled. They asked me not to use my name; not to tell anyone; to hide this side of me.

 

I became two writing personalities.

 

Over the past eight years I have realized that all the little rebellious parts of me have become Cate Ellink. The parts of me that conformed to my family/society wishes have remained with Catherine Evans.

 

I bloody love Cate Ellink. She’s written smoking hot sex. She lusts after footy players and dreams happy stories. She unashamedly explores fetishes, taboos, spirituality. She questions her thinking about society norms. She wants to change the world. Keeping quiet and fitting in is not really doing it for me anymore. I’m getting to the point where I need to become whole. I’m of the age where I really don’t give a damn about others’ opinions, and we need change in the world before it’s a catastrophe for humankind.

 

It’s difficult to buck the system. It’s even harder to stand strong when people belittle and ridicule you. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have readers and writers who don’t care what I write, they just accept me. That’s been such a strength to me, allowing me to think I need to be whole outside of this reading/writing world.

 

Now Kim is tempting me into the paranormal. It’s not somewhere Catherine or Cate has gone before, and yet I love reading paranormal and my belief is in the paranormal. When I write in that subgenre, I won’t be able to manage three distinct personalities. I’m going to have to join all my parts together, allowing the different names to distinguish which part of my mind you’re comfortable reading! But I’ll be me, Catherine, Cate and whoever else I write as. It’s as exciting as it is daunting.

 

Do you have any tips for me?

Find Catherine:

Website | Twitter | Amazon | Facebook 

So, you think you can write?

 

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“I should write a book about my life; it would be a bestseller.”

“Yeah, I’ve always thought about writing a book someday.”

So, what are you waiting for – do it.

If I had a penny for every time that I heard those words uttered since I’ve been a writer, I might be on easy street by now. Everyone thinks they can a write a book. In fact, writing is probably the only profession that is taken in such a nonchalant manner that just about every person with a high school education thinks they too have what it takes to write books. Any fellow authors reading this post know exactly what I’m talking about.

Perhaps it is because writing is an exercise in which we all participate daily. We’re writing through our schooling and further studies and scribbling on post-it notes at work. We’re scrolling our screens bursting with words and stroking our keyboards to pen a response. We’re jotting down last-minute grocery lists, helping our children with their writing homework, and maybe even pouring our hearts into a journal at the end of each day.

Naturally, you’re a writer. When I listen to a piece of music that moves me, I’m not inclined to believe that I could make music that will produce the same result. The same holds true when I hear the beautiful sounds of a vocalist or admire the brush strokes of a gifted artist. I don’t pretend I can design a kick-ass book cover just because I play around with graphics sometimes, or that I can fix the transmission in my car because I can drive.

My husband has no desire to write a book; and trust me when I say he has experienced a colorful life that could knock the socks off any great story premise. He is Dutch (do I need to add more?). He left Holland behind and set off alone on a global adventure in his late twenties with ideas to travel and see more of this side of the world. Europe was his well-worn backyard. The U.S didn’t appeal to him, and he loved all things creepy-crawly and poisonous. Coming Downunder was a no-brainer.

He lived in New Zealand for a year before landing a sponsorship visa in Australia, during which time he met me. Exciting notions to travel across Australia in his rather pimped-up campervan quickly fizzled after that – but not without a hefty side of soul-searching on his part. In the end though, I guess I proved too much to resist because he never did embark on that intended trip, nor did he return to his homeland. I may have altered his plans just a little, but he still doesn’t want to write a book. That old seedy campervan, however, could write some eyebrow-raising tales, I’m sure.

Ah, the European in my life.

The truth is, if writing a book was as easy as most of the population believes, then writing a book would be pretty ordinary and all those folks wouldn’t just be shooting off at the mouth, they’d be too busy writing that damned book. But writing a book is anything but ordinary. Authors are anything but ordinary for that matter. I always thought I was a little peculiar… until I met other authors. Then, peculiar took on a whole new meaning.

It takes a particular type of person to not only write a book, but to persist at writing books. They are a legion of people belonging to an idiosyncratic faction obsessed with storytelling. We are slaves to the written word; vessels of passion striving to convey our message through story; and craving to uplift and transport our readers to other worlds. We are the individuals that function between long bouts of solitary hours living in our heads and real life.

Writing and publishing books is no easy task. I won’t lie. It requires fire, passion and faith. When asked, I tell people that it takes a lot of self-discipline, a truck load of tenacity, the uncanny ability to cultivate self-belief, and a hot, burning desire to improve on your craft. In short, persistence is a fitting word here.

Thinking back, my journey into writing began with Golden Book fairytales. I’d devour them over and over as a child and dream myself into the pages of mystical worlds. Stories enthralled me from a young age. When I was about fifteen-years-old, I sat down and began writing my first chapter by hand – a fast-paced take on a trashy Jackie Collins novel. The story lasted two entire pages until I realized there was a lot more to writing a book than what I had imagined. It was then that I could really appreciate the process authors go through in not only producing a book, but creating a captivating story that lasted for more than two pages.

It would be a very long time before I arrived at the moment that I sat before a blank screen and began to write my first book, Millie’s Angel. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing at the time. All I knew was that I had to write, and that somehow, I could do this – I could write more than two pages of a book, and I could make it as great a story as I could at the time. More than that, I had to do it for myself. At the time I had reached a pivotal moment in my life. For some reason I knew that I had to embark on a journey that would forever change my life-path.

For every writer there is an underlying urge to tell a story. It’s like an invisible haul on your subconscious mind that you don’t realize is there until you quieten your thoughts, sit with the feeling and listen – and then you do and something else begins to happen. Suddenly, you’re writing the words and your entire being rejoices in a delicious explosion of delight and wonder. Tiny, zealous tingles burst through your body, bringing you to a place of knowing and confirming that now is the moment you had been awaited – you are a storyteller.

The feeling is unmistakable, and one that cannot ever be denied thereafter. My writing has changed a lot since I wrote Millie’s Angel. These days, I have a better understanding of the industry. My writing voice is stronger and unique to me. I know what I want from my characters and stories, and I am my harshest critic.

I have learned more about storytelling, genre tropes and reader expectations, and strive daily to deliver my best work to the page. For me and my stories it’s about my characters. I want to take readers on a journey through the choices my characters make; to introduce them to their innermost thoughts and feelings as the story unfolds and propels them into a fictitious world driven on the edge of reality.

Recently, I was one of the hosting authors on a panel for the Sydney Writer’s Festival. One woman asked how it was possible to create a “real” character in a fantasy world. Since I was the sole speculative fiction author among our panel and currently working on an epic futuristic world governed by vampires, her question was directed at me. I told her that when you bring layers and depth to your characters, and provide profound moments between them throughout the story, it is easy to interject traits and circumstances that feel real, even when they’re facing an oppressing life beneath a group of psychotic undead individuals!

Becoming my characters means my readers can relate to them. By injecting truth in my words, I can find and maintain my overarching story theme, which always encompasses a profound message I wish to bring to the story. This is who I am, and this is ultimately why I am a writer; it is my way of bringing something good into the world; a sense of hope and love through the words and worlds I create and the stories I tell. The world can never fall short on too much love. I write stories not because I think I should, or because one day I thought it was something cool that I could do. It takes a whole lot more than a passing pipedream to be a writer.

I write stories because without story I am nothing. I am a storyteller despite the tribulations that often accompany the life of a writer. The embers persevere and burn strong in my belly. Every day the fire and passion scorch my veins, and it’s never-ending and strong.