Interesting day yesterday. Yes, got some time in on the novel, but not enough to post, hence this one.
I’ll start by saying that I am one of those people who has a hard time getting a handle on social media. I didn’t “get” Twitter at first, for example. I signed up years ago but it hasn’t been until relatively recently that I started using it.
It’s not that I’m a luddite. I think though that I’m the type of person who likes to research stuff like this before I start it (mostly out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing…) However when I started this blog, I decided to just jump into Twitter. I’m happy I did.
I am still a learner when it comes to Twitter, but I’m starting to feel how the undercurrents work. Yesterday Shane Arthur, a blogger and one of the people behind Creative Copy Challenge, put out the call via Twitter that he needed 10 random words from 10 (random?) followers. You see, the way the Challenge works is that they give you 10 words to work with, and you write a piece (fiction, poetry, etc.) that include those 10 words. When I’ve done the challenge, I’ve always used those words to inspire me, to give me an impression of the story I write.
Coincidentally, I was just switching from one project on my docket to another when the tweet came through. Within one minute I tweeted back a word: moist. Not the most inspired perhaps, but totally random – it was the first one to pop into my head. Within about 10 minutes, he had all his words – all from people who would never had any contact with one another otherwise.
The immediacy of this struck me for some reason. I mean, I’m used to “instant” communications via email, texting, even Facebook. Twitter of course too. But a whole project completed in 10 minutes – that blows my mind. Okay, it’s a small project, but still…
Then later yesterday I had a Skype conversation with my family out west. Again, I’m familiar with Skype, but no expert. The fact that it’s my family certainly affected the emotional impact, but it was so cool, talking to them AND seeing them. My eldest mentioned that our connection was a bit laggy though – I said (in typical Dad fashion) that it was much laggier in my day.
Once we said our goodbyes, I fixed myself some dinner and switched on the TV to watch a re-run of Northern Exposure. It was one of my favourite episodes, “The Aurora Borealis” in which Chris’s long-lost brother Bernard shows up out of the blue, and helps Chris finish his sculpture to (and inspired by) the Northern Lights.
The theme of the episode is Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconsciousness. At the beginning of the episode, Chris and Bernard don’t know they are brothers – Bernard felt compelled to leave work and drive north on a motorbike, unsure of where he’s going even until he reaches Cicely. They share a dream together, literally and figuratively, and at the end find out they both have the same picture of their “travelling man” dad.
I’m not an expert in Jung either, but it seems to me that the Internet is in itself a form of the collective unconscious. Through Twitter and Facebook, and more directly through Skype and email, we can keep connected with (theoretically) everyone on the planet. We can know their thoughts and, as the social beings we are, be affected and guided by other people. It’s something that has never happened before in such a direct way.
Well, check that. Novels are like that too, I suppose, and they even span the ages. The difference though is that novels are a one-way communication method. But the best ones still convey that idea of collective unconsciousness. Whenever you say “Don’t Panic” or “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” (was that in the book…?), it tweaks something in all of us. We collectively understand what it means, even if we process it slightly differently.
So what? you may be asking yourself. I’m asking myself the same thing. I guess the point here is that “collective unconscious” and “harmonic convergence” isn’t really as mystical as it sounds – or at least it doesn’t have to be. It might be as simple as culture.
It struck me that it is those shared experiences we’ve all had that not only interest the reader, but draw the reader closer to the book. I think that by leveraging those experiences – tuning into the convergence – we can, as writers, provide a richer story for our readers and keep their interest up.
That’s the theory, anyway. I’m going to consciously look at how I can put that theory into practice…
Novel Writing Totals