Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Aren't You Writing?

Why aren’t you writing? You don’t know what to write? It doesn’t matter.

Write anyway. Place one word, any word, on the page. A single word. That’s all it takes.

That single word, whatever it is, will launch you on a journey into your creativity and beyond your imagination.

One word. That's all it takes.

Open any book to a random page, close your eyes and point.

Write that word.

What about the next word, and the word after that? And the word after that? What about sentences and paragraphs? What about a subject?

You are the subject.

I don’t mean you will be writing about yourself -- though you might be. You are the subject and your pen is sovereign. And that pen will carry you on an extraordinary journey of discovery, if you let it...writing flowingly and freely on the Muse Stream, letting the sentences unfold without your conscious mind getting in the way.

What you will experience is freedom from your mind, freedom for your story. When you write on the Muse Stream, you throw off the shackles of logic and leap into the inkwell of the unknown -- a well within which reside all the stories you could ever want to write, all the catharsis you could ever want to experience, all the emotion you could ever want to express.

It’s so simple.

Take the first word you write and, without thinking, write another. It needn’t flow logically from the first. Perhaps it’s an association -- "chair" makes you think of “table.” What does “table” remind you of?

Don’t think about it. Let the first word that comes to you, whatever it is, be the next word you write.

It doesn’t make sense? It doesn’t have to make sense. It may be better if it doesn’t.

Just let one word trigger another and then another, until something shifts - and it will -- and the flow is undammed. From there, that flow can carry you on a current of words, images and emotions. If you let it..

Why not let it? Why not write now? Why not pick a word at random from this blog post? Why write that one word and then another, and then another. Why not keep writing for 10 minutes or 20 or 30? Why not let the words take charge, propelling you forward on a journey of discovery, wonder and awe.

~ adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write (LightLines Media) (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson

Photo by Mark David Gerson: the Yellowstone River, the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Light on Your Creative Journey (Video)

"There are no rules."
~ Mark David's first rule for writing (and most everything else)

Back in November 2009, I was privileged to be part of Steve and Barbara Rother's Virtual Light Broadcast. In a 26-minute interview with author/editor Sandie Sedgbeer, recorded live before a studio audience in Las Vegas, we talked about writing, spirituality and the creative process.

"The universe is made up of stories, not atoms," I told Sandie, quoting poet Muriel Rukeyser. We all have stories to tell and we all have an innate ability to free those stories onto the page in a process that is nearly always life-changing -- for ourselves and for our readers.

Unlock your creative self by trusting the stories alive within you...and (re)discover the writer you are!

Other inspiring videos on writing/creativity.

Give the gift of creativity and inspiration this holiday season, with special Holiday Gift Editions of Mark David's books and CDs...

For a limited time only: Gift-wrapped books + book/CD packages signed by Mark David to your friends/family members, and shipped directly to them with a card bearing the holiday message of your choice.
*** Order yours today!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Myth of Perfection

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one."
~ Elbert Hubbard

"Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it."
~ Salvador Dali

Are you frustrated?

Do you struggle to find the perfect words that consummately evoke the depth of your passion or flawlessly paint the fullness of your vision?

Are you frustrated because the words you have chosen seem inadequate, their ordering unsatisfactory?

You’re not alone. Many writers echo your frustration.

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

When I originally wrote these words for an early draft of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, the sun was sliding through a marbled Hawaii sky toward the Pacific, its light skipping across wind-rippled waters.

If I was successful in that description, you will have seen some version of an ocean sunset. Some version, but not mine.

It may approach mine. It may approximate mine. Yet my words, as expertly as I may have deployed them, cannot create a Kodak moment. (Even Kodak can’t create a perfect Kodak moment.) My words are more likely to create an Impressionist moment.

That's not a bad thing. It gives readers space to have their own experience, to paint their own pictures from the words you have freed from your pen.

Just as you can't control the words that flow from you, you can't control your reader’s experience of those words. Nor would you want to.

How often have you been disappointed by a film portrayal of your favorite literary character because your inner director cast the role more astutely than the movie director did?

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

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

Can you let go your natural human perfectionism long enough to let your story tell itself to you on the page?

What are you waiting for? Pick up your pen. Describe what you see, what you feel, what you yearn for, what you love. Don’t try to be perfect.

Don’t try at all. Just allow. And know that from that place of surrender, you are creating perfection.

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, winner of an IPPY Silver Medal as one of the top writings books of the year.

Photos: Santa Monica sunset (c) 2010 Mark David Gerson. Image of Salvador Dali from the University of Buffalo's 2009 Anderson Gallery Dali exhibition.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Coming Out...As All That I Am

I first posted this piece two years ago on my previous New Earth Chronicles blog. Then, I titled it "Coming Out (Again) for Christmas." Reprinting it today, on the 32nd anniversary of Harvey Milk's assassination in San Francisco, feels an appropriate celebration of his life and legacy.

Harvey Milk insisted that we must be who we are out in the world, and it's a message that's as valid today as it was in 1978 -- whoever we are, whatever our orientation.

It's December 14, 2008 and I'm at the New Mexico Gay Men's Chorus's "Come Out for Christmas" concert with my friend Kathleen. It's our second year attending this event together and although this year's show is not nearly as good as last year's, there's something about being here this time that feels inexplicably right.

After the concert, Kathleen and I are chatting about this and that at a nearby Starbucks when I ask her, "Have I ever told you my 'gay story'?"

If you've been following this blog for a few years, you'll have read various versions of the story. What I told Kathleen was this:

For the first 20 years of my adult life, I lived as a gay man. Yet, as I awakened to my spirituality, I felt called to stop identifying myself as gay -- or straight. Rather, I began to see myself as a sexual being open to all possibilities. Still, I was somewhat surprised when, a few years later in Sedona, AZ, I fell in love with a woman.

When I told my gay friends that I was getting married (a sort of reverse coming-out), I explained that I had fallen in love with a wonderful spirit who just happened to occupy a female physique. From that place of love and passion, I said, gender and orientation were irrelevant and anything was possible. And it was.

Yet as profound, intimate and wonderful as our relationship was, it ended six and half years later, for reasons unrelated to sexuality.

In the four years since, I've often revisited the sexual orientation question. "Am I gay again?" I would ask in meditation. The answer was always, "Nothing has changed. Don't label yourself. Be open to all possibilities." Even though my primary physical attraction remained toward men, I honored that counsel and refused to categorize myself.

Something changed when I returned to Albuquerque in November after 40 days on the road. It was as though after 15 years of traveling in the spiritual realms, I had crash-landed back on earth and was reconnecting with the 38-year-old I had been before my spiritual awakening.

Suddenly, people from my past resurfaced, as did work opportunities disturbingly similar to those I hadn't pursued in 16 years. And at the very physical (read "earthly") job my financial situation pushed me into last month, I have been "Mark." Only friends and family from years back know me as Mark. To most everyone else I'm "Mark David."

I was starting to believe that I was living my own version of the infamous dream season of the 1980s Dallas TV series and that I would wake up and discover that nothing of the past decade and a half had really occurred.

Of course it all did, and I have a beautiful daughter (and all of you) as proof. What I have been experiencing, rather, is a giant turn of the spiral I wrote about in Everything Old Is New Again, a "full circle" far more comprehensive than any I remember having lived.

In spiritual terms, it's time to take all I have experienced on my spiritual journey and bring it down to earth -- into the practical, into the reconnect who I was with who I am now.

"Perhaps," as I wrote so presciently in The MoonQuest, "it is allow the boy I was to touch the man I have become..."

When I leave Starbucks that Sunday evening, having shared my story with Kathleen, I feel the same kind of rush I felt 24 years earlier when I began coming out as a gay man to straight friends. I feel as though a tremendous burden has been lifted from me. I feel lighter.

Four days later, I go to see Milk, the film story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the US, who was assassinated in 1978 by a fellow San Francisco city supervisor.

The movie is brilliant, compelling and moving (as is Sean Penn's portrayal of the title role) and I find myself wiping away tears at frequent intervals.

It's compelling for another, more personal reason: the film's time frame covers the period of my coming out, and the gay activism it portrays is a bolder version of my activism in the Montreal of the mid- to late '70s. It's like watching my own life play out before me.

I leave the theater in an altered state and when I got into the car, I begin to sob uncontrollably. I sit there -- crying, heaving, releasing -- for 20 minutes. And when the tears stop I see that I have come full circle, that I have allowed the Mark I was to touch the Mark David I have become, that as open as I remain to the infinite realm of possibilities in life, I am a gay man. Again.

Even as I share this story with close friends in the days that follow, I'm not sure what to do with this realization. Is it appropriate to come out a third time? Is it necessary to be as openly gay at 54 as I was at 24 and 34? Does it even matter anymore to anyone but me?

This morning, in the midst of an interview with Joan Sotkin on her Prosperity Place radio show, I realize that it does matter. And I realize why.

During the show, Joan shares her spiritual coming out story and reveals how difficult it had been to let her spirituality have a place in her coaching work. And I note how vulnerable I felt putting out my most recent blog post, All That Matters Is That I'm Writing.

As we're talking, I remember how important it is to be vulnerable, how healing it is to share our truth and our stories out into the world. I remember, too, how much of my work is about helping give people permission to do those very things by doing them myself.

That's largely what this blog has been about. That's largely what Harvey Milk's message was about. He insisted that we must be who we are out in the world, and it's a message that's as valid today as it was 30 years ago -- whoever we are, whatever our orientation.

I realize, too, this morning that like Joan we all have many parts to ourselves and that each of these is more potent and transformational when operating as part of a oneness. When we fragment ourselves -- being spiritual only with our spiritual friends, gay only with our gay friends, Jewish only with our Jewish friends, vegetarian only with our vegetarian friends, Democrats only with our Democrat friends -- we cheat the world and ourselves of the strength, power and paradox of the human soul.

Each of us is a unit within which lives unparalleled diversity. Only when we can be at peace with that diversity within ourselves will we be at peace with that same diversity in others. And only then will we see peace in the world.

That peace begins in me. That peace begins in you. And it begins with me honoring all of who I am by integrating all of who I am into all that I do. One of the ways I achieve that integration is by being open and vulnerable with you, by letting you see more of me than I might always prefer you to see in the hopes that you will be inspired to share all of you with others.

Tikkun olam is a phrase in the Jewish tradition that translates from the Hebrew as "healing the world." That healing begins when I open my heart to myself so that I can see who I am. It grows when I open my heart to you and let you see who I am. It grows further when you do the same.

Won't you open your heart and share your light -- all of it -- with a world so desperate for healing? Won't you come out of hiding and be?

What parts of yourself are you hiding from yourself?

What parts of yourself have you hidden from the world?

Where can you integrate more of who you are into what you do?

Where can you be more open to others' diversity?

Where can you be more open to your own?

Won't you share some of who you are here?

Photos: Harvey Milk; Gay Santa from The Austin Chronicle; Me and my daughter; Book cover for The MoonQuest, designed by Angela Farley; Poster for the movie Milk, starring Sean Penn; Hebrew lettering for "tikkun olam"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Birth of a Book

You don't have to know how your story will end before you begin. You don't even have to know how it will start. All you need to do is begin. All you need to do is place one word after the other...and trust...

It's March 1994. I see The Celtic Tarot in Toronto's Omega Centre bookstore and it so seduces me that I can't not buy it. Days later, I use the deck in a writing class I'm teaching: With eyes closed, each student draws one of the major arcana cards and then, with eyes open to the chosen card, is led through a guided visualization into writing.

Generally when I teach, I don't write. I watch the students and hold space for them.

But this night's group is different. These five women are a subset of a larger University of Toronto class that I have just led through ten weeks of creative awakening. They don't require my usual overseeing and so, once they're settled into writing, some inner imperative has me draw a card of my own: The Chariot.

That same imperative has me pick up a pen and push it across the blank page. What emerges is a surprise: the tale of an odd-looking man in an even odder-looking coach that is pulled by two odd-colored horses. I know nothing about this man and his horses. I know nothing about this story. All I know is what emerges, word by word, onto the page.

Next morning, I'm drawn back to the story. I add to it. I keep adding to it daily, almost obsessively, rarely knowing from one day to the next (some days from one word to the next) what the story is about or where it is carrying me. A year later in Amirault's Hill, Nova Scotia, on the anniversary of that Toronto class, I complete my first draft of The MoonQuest.

It's May 2007, many drafts and years later. I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a few weeks from seeing the first printed copies of The MoonQuest in book form.

I open my email to a message and image from Courtney Davis, the British artist who created the Celtic Tarot deck, now sadly out-of-print. The image is The Chariot card, which I haven't seen since I gave away my copy of the tarot deck in 1997. Davis has sent me the image so that I can write a caption for an upcoming retrospective of his art.

When I see The Chariot for the first time in a decade, I'm startled. Even though the cover designer never saw the tarot card and knows nothing of The Celtic Tarot or how it inspired me, there's a definite connection between the two. Not only are the horses identically colored, they are identically placed. There's even a tiny chalice just above the wording on the card. Apart from that, the two images just feel the same.

Today, The MoonQuest is an award-winning book on its way to becoming a movie. And although the story's opening has changed since that 1994 writing class and although the odd-looking man has been superseded in importance by other characters, The Chariot's inspiration is still evident throughout The MoonQuest's story -- a story that knew itself far better than I did...a story that knew me better than I knew myself...a story that insisted I trust it to reveal itself to me, moment by moment, word by word...a story that never let me down.

• How can you trust your stories to reveal themselves to you?

• How can you surrender to the mystery of the blank page? Can you do as author Ray Bradbury suggests: jump of the cliff and trust that you'll sprout wings on the way down?

• Can you write the story that wants to be written by you, even if you don't yet know what it is?

• Can you start? Now?

Art Credits: The Chariot tarot card by Courtney Davis; The MoonQuest cover by Angela Farley.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dare to Feel. Dare to Connect

"Go to the emotional epicenter, where it hurts most, and write on. If you dare."
~ Bill Donovan, editor/publisher, Creative Screenwriting

"Only connect."
~ E.M. Forster

The call to write is a call to share our emotional depth with others. It's a call to be vulnerable. It's a call to connect.

Thing is, we don’t touch others at a deep level when we connect mind-to-mind, though that connection is a powerful and important one. We touch others at a deep level when we connect heart-to-heart.

Unless we write from our deepest heart, unless we tell the stories that move us, we will never move our readers.

I spent the first chunk of my writing career avoiding writing from what Bill Donovan calls the "emotional eipcenter." I observed and reported, intellectually and dispassionately. I told stories, but without heart.

In not revealing my feelings (at times, not even to myself), I failed to engage my readers in any but superficial ways. I failed them and I failed myself.

I didn't connect.

Do you want to write truth, the truth from which both powerful fiction and nonfiction arise? If you want to write truth, if you want to write words that will touch the deepest emotions and connections and truths of your reader, then you must write what your heart calls on you to write. You must go where you've never dared go before -- in your writing, certainly; in your life, perhaps.

You must, as I write in The Voice of the Muse's "Thirteen Rules for Writing," go for the jugular, for your jugular: "Go for the demon you would run from. Go for the feeling you would flee from. Go for that emotion you would deny. Once you put it on paper, you strip it of its power over you. Once you put it on paper, you free it to empower your work."

You free it, as well, to empower your readers. You empower them to feel their emotions, to be vulnerable and to share their stories.

"We tell our stories in order to live," Joan Didion writes in The White Album

We tell our stories, too, to connect.

There is neither life nor connection outside the heart.

• Where are you refusing to be vulnerable in your writing?

• Where are you afraid to reveal your feelings, perhaps even to yourself?

• In what ways are you reluctant to connect, heart-to-heart, with your readers?

• Where, right now, can you go for the jugular -- your jugular -- and dare to write from your emotional epicenter?

Adapted from >The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.

Part of answering the call to write and birthing the book that's inside you involves tapping into that emotional epicenter. That's some of the work I do as a writing/creativity/life coach. Need help getting there? Drop me a line.

Photo by Mark David Gerson: Autumn by the Tesuque River, Tesuque, NM

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Acts of Surrender 10: The Valley of the Shadow of Death

An excerpt from Acts of Surrender, my memoir-in-progress.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...
~ 23rd Psalm

"Like Abraham in Genesis, I willingly take the knife to what I hold most dear. God will either pull my hand back at the last minute or not."

On Saturday, I toured The Century, a deluxe, 42-story condominium tower just being completed in Century City, the former 20th Century Fox backlot redeveloped in the 1960s. Given what I wrote recently about my near-zero-point back account, you might think it odd that I was seriously checking out five- and six-million dollar luxury suites.

Yes, seriously.

Since my aha! a few weeks back, that urban Beverly Hills was calling me far more insistently than the suburban beach communities of Orange County, I had been on a quest: If L.A. expressed my heart’s desire, what might life there look like? To help answer the question, I made the 50-mile trek from Costa Mesa to the Beverly Hills area every couple of days. I drove around and walked around, trying to connect with what felt right.

There was no point restricting my search to what I could afford. Given the seizing up of my income flow that had occurred since before leaving Albuquerque, there was no place I could afford — in Los Angeles...or anywhere. How liberating! Truly, money was no object. The only criterion could be whether a particular street, house, apartment or condominium made my heart sing. It was an easy exercise in elimination: Most places didn’t feel good enough.

It was also an exercise in that wasn’t always quite so easy. As rents, sales prices, amenities and luxuries ballooned beyond my mind’s ability to grasp, I had to keep raising the barre on how I viewed myself.

Can I see myself living here?
Can I see myself belonging here?
Can I see myself deserving this?

Each experience stretched and pushed me. Each experience forced me to look deep within at who I was in that instant, who I had been in years past and who I thought Iwas choosing to be from that moment forward.

Then, one day last week, while browsing for condos online, I found The Century, a building I noticed when I’d happened through Century City the day before. Elliptical in shape, designed by renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern and soaring up gracefully from four acres of gardens, it was a stunning masterpiece of opulent living and pampered service. Anyone living there would have every need not only taken care of but anticipated, would be steeped in the kind of luxury that crooned, “You are worthy.”

Within 20 minutes of submitting the online form, I had a personal reply from a Beverly Hills realtor. It opened with the usual boilerplate, then concluded with this sentence: “As an aside, if you are the writer of the same name, I have a friend who is a lover of fantasy and adores your books!”

I was stunned. What were the odds of that!?

Three days later, I pulled up to the front door. The valet whisked my car away as the doorman greeted me with a warm smile. “Welcome to The Century, Mr. Gerson.” He opened the door and ushered me in.

Finally, I’d found a place I where I felt I belonged, a place that was good enough for me.

But was I good enough for it?

Both the realtor and the onsite sales rep certainly thought so, as they spent the next two hours touring me through more than a half-dozen three- and four-bedroom dwellings, none smaller than 3,500 square feet. For those two hours, to my surprise, I thought so, too. I was fully aware of what I liked and didn’t like, asked serious questions, and unhesitatingly acted from a place of potential ownership where cost was not an issue.

And it wasn’t...not because I didn’t have access to the necessary cash or credit but because in those hours I knew myself to be an infinite being in a universe of infinite possibility. From that place, why couldn’t I live there...if that was my desire?

My every-other-day drives up to L.A. were not only house-hunting expeditions. They were conscious exercises in planting my energy and creativity in the city I felt called to. Not only did I explore neighborhoods, I explored places to write. In the end, I generally finished my day at the Starbucks on North Beverly Drive, working either on this book or on my third draft of The StarQuest, the sequel to my fantasy novel, The MoonQuest.

When I left The Century on Saturday, I drove a block up to the Century Century mall for lunch. My wallet screamed, “Subway!” My consciousness insisted that such an act of scarcity-thinking would erase much of the activating benefit of my time at The Century. We compromised on Ummba Grill, an inexpensive Brazilian eatery that felt infinitely more abundant than the cheap sandwich chain.

I sat for a long time at my patio table at Ummba — absorbing the brazen ballsiness of my actions and uncertain what to do next. After the oasis of The Century, the Saturday shopping crush at the outdoor mall felt stifling. Nor was I ready to brave the high-octane buzz of Starbucks.

In the end, I wandered Avenue of the Stars, grateful that Century City’s main thoroughfare retreated into dormancy on weekends. There, I found 2000 Avenue of the Stars, a three-building architectural wonder surrounding a fine-art-like green space, again, mercifully deserted on a weekend.

For the next hour or so, I explored the building and grounds in an exhausting blend of overwhelm and integration.

Had I found the seat of my desire, residentially speaking? And if so, what was I do to next?

No idea.

At the same time, I was viscerally aware of the throbbing bustle beyond Avenue of the Stars’ unnatural stillness. The busyness felt claustrophobic and draining, even from a distance. Up close, when I finally made it to the North Beverly Starbucks, it felt suffocating. Instead of relaxing in one of my usual leather armchairs near the front door, I retreated to the very back of the café. Instead of hanging around for three or more hours, I was gone before a single hour had elapsed.

Monday morning would normally have been an L.A. day. But when I woke, it didn’t feel right to go. Exhaustion, I figured, and thought nothing more of it. I spent the day at the Newport Starbucks, writing about my upcoming birthday.

By Monday evening, however, something else seemed to be going on. It was as though all the energy that had built up over the years around me living in L.A. had evaporated. The idea of driving up to spend the day — any day — felt more than unpleasant. It felt wrong. The idea of living there felt more than wrong. It felt repellent.

“I think I’m done with L.A.,” I told Adam. “It’s as though all the reasons I thought I was being called to the city are either complete or they’re still playing out here, in the house with you. It’s as though once I toured The Century, with all it represented, L.A. was over.”

In that moment, I had no idea where I wanted to live or what I wanted to do with my life once I was there...or even until I got there.

“I guess I keep writing,” I said to Adam. “That’s the only thing that continues to make sense.”

At other times in my life, I’ve felt called to rigorously reevaluate every aspect of my life in order to determine whether it could continue with me on my journey. That evening, as Adam and I continued to talk, reevaluation no longer seemed appropriate. Instead, it was as though nothing could continue with me. This re-birthday I had just written about was showing up as an even more radical shedding than I could have imagined.

“It’s as though I’m grieving a life I’m leaving behind,” I wrote a few hours later in a moment of overpowering sadness. “It’s though I’m mourning the death of everything I’ve ever known and been. It’s though I’m stepping through a portal that leads beyond the end of the known world.”

Suddenly, I heard the 23rd Psalm playing in my head. “It’s as though I’m walking into the valley of the shadow of death,” I added.

It felt like a death — not of my ego, which can’t die if I’m still to function in the world, but of all the ways of doing and being that had preceded that moment. Some version of total detachment.

I barely slept that night. I wasn’t anxious or stressed. Sleep simply eluded me for much of the night.

On my way to Starbucks the next morning, I stopped at Los Trancos Canyon View Park on Newport Coast Drive. It sits high on a ridge, overlooking both the desert-y San Joaquin Hills and an endless Pacific vista. It’s a favorite quiet place and I rarely see anyone else there, despite the apparent hopefulness of its two dozen parking spaces.

As I stepped from the asphalt onto the park’s walking path, I saw four tomb-like steel panels set into the ground. I’d never noticed them before, especially the one that jumped out at me: It bore the letters RIP etched prominently into the metal. I didn’t at first notice the D that preceded them.

It was as though I was seeing my own grave, as though some higher power with a wicked sense of humor was confirming the death that had to occur before this weekend’s 56th birthday could trigger a rebirth I couldn’t yet imagine.

A few months back, I likened the stripping-away process one of my coaching clients was experiencing to a demolition that removes everything of a building but its skeletal structure. She was finding the process unnerving, and I reassured her that new walls, floors, ceilings, fittings and furnishings could only be installed once all the old ones had been shed. This is where I find myself today, in the most radical living death I’ve ever experienced — and I’ve experienced a fair number over the years.

Not surprisingly, this one has also been the least comfortable.

In Genesis, 10 chapters past the lech l’cha story I wrote about the other day, God tells Abraham he must offer up his only son, Isaac, as a live sacrifice. Abraham unquestioningly travels three days to Moriah, builds an altar there and binds Isaac to it. Only in the moment when Abraham is holding the knife to his son’s throat does God, through an angel, stay the execution, commend Abraham’s obedience and promise abundant blessings.

The way I see it, it’s not so much Abraham’s obedience that’s being praised. It’s his unconditional authenticity. By acting in a way that’s true to his deepest heart, regardless of what he thinks or of what the consequences might be, he’s expressing God’s will, which, ultimately, is the only will there is.

That hasn’t stopped me, in the past, from trying to throw my won’ts at God’s will. Fear of consequences has played a big role in my life. And if I’ve always surrendered in the end, I’ve often moved through much molasses-like resistance to get there. As well, my surrender hasn’t always been unconditional. It’s nearly always been predicated on the expectation of reward: If I do such-and-such, I’ll manifest money, love or success. Or I’ll be safe. Or I’ll “ascend,” whatever that means.

Or, like with Abraham and Isaac, the knife will be pulled away at the last minute and I’ll be spared the dreaded sacrifice.

Thing is, when that higher power we sometimes call God demands what feels like a “supreme sacrifice,” we never know whether his divine roulette wheel will stop at gotta do it or ha-ha just kidding. Moving toward obedience while hoping for a reprieve is neither authentic nor unconditional.

Nor do we know whether that “abundant blessing” will look blessed to our human mind. In God’s mind, all outcomes are blessed.

I haven’t been offered a shopping list of what goes and what stays. Rather, like Abraham, I’ve been told to stand by in readiness to sacrifice everything, including what I think I hold most dear. If that includes my perceived passions, so be it. If that includes friends and family, so be it. If that includes my own child, so be it.

I’ve already shed most of my material possessions. I’ve already let go my known means of financial support. Many of the ways I’ve viewed my world have hit the chopping block, with more falling away every day. Through today's writing, I’ve turned my back on my old definitions of reward.

There isn’t much left, other than what I believe to be at my core, which, in truth, is itself nothing but a facade covering my deepest essence, that place where I do more than know God and I to be one. I experience God and I as one.

And so I must allow the death process to continue, whatever the cost or consequences. My knife will either be pulled back at the last minute or not.

Is my L.A. story really done? Will I stay in the area but find a calmer landing strip outside Los Angeles County? Will I leave the crowded madness of Southern California for some version of the wide open spaces I recently left behind? Or will L.A. call me back once I have moved through this death and have found my way through the birth canal and back into life?

Suddenly, none of that matters anymore. Where I I live...with whom I live... These are meaningless mental calisthenics. All that matters is the journey of the moment...the journey of the heart...the journey that carries me through this death to the next rebirth, whatever that look likes, whatever the consequences.

There is no other choice. In fact, how can there be any choice at all when the only will is God’s?

Like Abraham, I willingly take the knife.

One postscript: As I wandered through the Newport park Tuesday morning, my eyes kept being drawn to the weather vane perched atop its tile-roofed gazebo. A cooling breeze was blowing in from the north on that unusually hot day. The arrow pointed south.

In the Taoist tradition, the southerly direction moves us from chaos to clarity. In Native American traditions, the south often represents fire, passion and heart. Wherever I’m going next — geographically, personally, professionally and it into a big-city condo, a rural cabin or some other destination I can’t yet imagine — south is clearly the way to go.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
~ 23rd Psalm

Adapted from Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Journey Beyond Faith, my memoir-in-progress. Please share as you feel called to. But please, also, include a link back to this post.

Previous excerpts:
April 28
July 30
August 25
September 1
September 9
September 10
September 12
September 24
September 27

If you're in the San Diego area, please join me at the Mind Body Spirit Expo at the Doubletree Mission Valley this Saturday, October 2. I'll be speaking at 2pm on Answering the Call to Write and will spend most of the rest of the day at the Lighted Bridge booth.

Photos by Mark David Gerson: #1 Oasis at 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City; #2 The Century, Century City; #3 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City; #4 Los Trancos Canyon View Park, Newport Beach, CA. Image of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac: Marc Chagall - Musée national Marc Chagall, Nice, France

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Acts of Surrender 7: The Heart of Desire

This excerpt from Acts of Surrender, my memoir-in-progress, is a present-day story, centered around 9/11 and the days leading up to it.

“What do you want?” Adam asked as we walked along Laguna’s West Beach. The surf was gentle that afternoon, pushing toward us with no urgency and with just enough roll for the lone surfer to find some easy action.

I didn’t answer. I’d been in Southern California for four weeks and this was only my second time on the beach. But I’d been spending regular writing time near the water, either here in Laguna or at what had become a favorite Starbucks, a few minutes up the coast in Newport Beach. I loved being down here and, since arriving at Adam’s, had made the hour-long drive up to the city only once. If Los Angeles had pulled me here, Laguna Beach was seducing me.

“I don’t know,” I said after a time. “When I’m in L.A. and feel the buzz of the city, that’s where I want to be. When I’m down here in Laguna, I don’t want to be anywhere else. It’s as though there are two parts of me competing for my future.”

We walked in silence. I had taken my shoes off, and the sand squished between my toes. At the asphalt path to the street, I brushed off my feet, put my flip-flops back on and started up the hill toward the tiny Camel Point subdivision at the top. I stopped halfway up and looked back. In the silence of that no-man’s land between sea and city, I heard my voice echo back at me from a few days’ earlier, when I’d come to this same place with Adam and his realtor, to look at a Camel Point home. It was an amazing property, modern in design, with ocean views from every room but one.

If I lived here, I heard myself repeat from that earlier visit, I’d never leave.

“Shit,” I said out loud.

“What?” Adam asked.

“It’s L.A. It has to be L.A.” I started to cry.

When the call to leave Albuquerque for Los Angeles began to crystallize earlier this year, I realized it was about leaving my years of retreat and stepping back into the world. My most recent Albuquerque home had eloquently symbolized aspects of that retreat. Although I saw clients and facilitated workshops there, it was perched at the very edge of the city, high in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, with nothing behind me but open space and mountain wilderness. I was living apart, as I had so often in the past. L.A., I sensed, would be about reinserting myself in the world — not as the world would have me, but as who I’d grown into.

My tears weren’t for Laguna Beach. They were for those parts of me that I was leaving behind, parts of me that wanted to stay in retreat but couldn’t, parts of me that I had outgrown. I was saying goodbye to what remained of the me-in-hiding, a me I could never be again.

If I chose Laguna, I’d be choosing the past. If I chose L.A., I would be stepping into my future...into fearlessness.

The next afternoon I drove into the city, with no set agenda other than to feel what it felt like to be there. As I raced up the 405, I kept glancing into the rearview mirror — not at traffic but at my new haircut. The old, fearful me would have put off dealing with my hair until some money had shown up. Had my hair grown too straggly to ignore, he would have settled for a SuperCuts-style walk-in. He never would have made a salon appointment.

I made a salon appointment.

It was the most expensive haircut I’d ever had...and the best. I felt great. I’d had an instant’s panic at the register, but it passed in a heartbeat. Now, the new-look me was driving to my new city, knowing only that I could no more settle for less than I knew I deserved in L.A. than I could for a second-rate haircut.

I didn’t know how it would all come together. I only knew that it would...that it would have to, not because I was afraid, but because I wasn’t.

I didn’t know how it would all come together. I only knew that it would...that it would have to, not because I was afraid, but because I wasn’t.

It was a new feeling — at the same time liberating and disorienting — and it carried me all the way through my apartment viewing at the resort-like Palazzo complex across from a favorite L.A. hangout, the outdoor Grove mall. I’d decided during the drive up that I would take a look at the Palazzo, without knowing precisely what lay behind its gates.

What will I say to the leasing agents? I wondered. After all, in that moment, both my finances and credit made it conventionally unlikely that I would be living there any time soon.

Convention be damned! I said out loud. I’ll tell them the truth, that it’s not about the size or type of unit. And it’s not about the cost. It’s about the feel of it. That’s all that matters.

When I drove away an hour later, I had one certainty: The Palazzo apartments weren’t good enough for me.

Again, it was a new feeling — acting as though money was not an issue and knowing with a certainty that surprised me with its ferocity that when the right place showed up, I’d know it. I’d know it and I’d be living there.

The “how” wasn’t part of my job description. My job was to declare my desire and act on it. The rest was up to God or Spirit or the Universe, all of which are only higher expressions of me, higher expressions eager to step fully into my soon as I step fully into theirs. Fearlessly.

“Act as though and make it so,” I’d written a few years earlier in the The Wisdom Keepers Training, a multimedia personal-growth manual I’d created. It was time to live that statement more baldly than I’d ever dared.

The haircut was a beginning. After all, as Adam had said to me the previous week when he’d sprung for a haircut at the same salon, “If I’m too scared to spend $40 on a haircut, why would the Universe give me a multimillion-dollar home?”


The next day was September 11. I would be back in L.A. for my daughter’s 11th birthday, and I planned some neighborhood reconnoitering on my own before joining Guinevere and her mother for the day’s festivities.

September 11 is about many things for many people. That’s the day, of course, when Al Qaeda terrorists forced a passenger plane to slam into New York’s World Trade Center. Many say that those emblematic towers should never have crumpled at the impact. That they did carries for me a significance even more earth-shattering than the tragic loss of life and property: An unexpected force took down established structures of order and convention, destroyed the indestructible and offered us an opportunity to look fearlessly at our own outmoded structures — inner and outer.

If, like the rest of the world in 2001, I was too shocked to see anything but the immediate horror, in the years since I’ve noticed that old constructs have often fallen away dramatically for me on September 11. In fact, in writing this book, I now see that 9/11 carried paradigm-altering significance for me even before the events of 2001. It was in 1997, as I’ve already written, that events triggered a move to Sedona that would knock down the bulwark of my identity. Two years later, in perhaps the ultimate life-changing event, my daughter was born.

On Saturday, that symbolic airplane smashed into both my professional and home life. In a flash as fiery and unexpected as that of any terrorist attack, my life as a writing coach and workshop facilitator collapsed in a smoldering heap. I knew that if I was to continue coaching and teaching, that the work would have to look different. My old structure, I now saw, carried traces of the fear-based codependency I was ejecting from my life. It had to come down. Any new structure would have to follow the same road beyond courage and surrender I was paving for myself.

Once again I felt liberated...and disoriented.

A personal 9/11 experience of radical evolution not suitable for the faint of heart...

(Although this is still evolving, I’m now looking to replace my current model of ongoing coaching sessions with one-time two-hour, half-day or full-day intensives: one-on-one consultations that would focus on life at least as much as they would on creativity: a personal 9/11 experience of radical evolution not suitable for the faint of heart.)

The other aha came as I drove through neighborhood after westside L.A. neighborhood that day, scouting for a place I’d like to live. Once again, money was not to be a deciding factor.

I was on a quest beyond the sensible and conventional. I was on a quest to discover the heart of my desire.

Sometimes, the heart of desire is transparently clear. Sometimes, it’s buried under years of convention, decades of disappointment and lifetimes of fear. Writing, for me, was such a hidden treasure, long invisible to a conscious mind paralyzed by fear. It’s been many years since that treasure was unearthed. But it took single moment in the run-up to my Albuquerque exodus for me to finally feel its significance.

I was on the phone with my friend Sander, at the tail end of a harrowing conversation during which I had finally agreed to give notice on my Albuquerque rental, despite not knowing how I could financially manage my L.A. move. (Sound familiar?)

“Take the rest of the day off,” Sander urged.

“No,” I said, “without thinking. “I think I’ll go to Starbucks to write.”

Sander argued with me, tried to convince me not to work.

“You don’t understand,” I countered. “Writing is the only thing that makes sense.” Then, to my surprise, I started to cry. I’d always known that writing lay at the heart of my desire. But it was an intellectual “knowing.” Until that moment, I’d never felt it. That same visceral response was waiting for me in Beverly Hills.

On my way back to Albuquerque in February, I stopped in Sedona for a night, to see Guinevere in a school play. That afternoon, her mom and I went for lunch at New Frontiers, the local health food store that’s as big an energy vortex as any of the town’s well-known red-rock formations. We were standing at the deli counter when we ran into Sao, a shamanic astrologer neither of us had seen since we were married.

After running through the same set of questions with Guinevere's mom, Sao turned to me.

“How old are you?”


“When’s your birthday?”

“October 3.”

He paused, staring into me.

“You’re entering into the most powerful period of your life,” he intoned. “Whatever you truly desire will be yours.” He paused again. “Start asking yourself this question: By the time you turn 57, who do you want in your life, what do you want to be doing in your life and where do you want to be living?”

To the first two parts of Sao’s question, I heard nothing. At “where do you want to be living,” I heard, with crystal clarity from somewhere deep inside me, Beverly Hills.

I was already planning my L.A. move and I had considered some areas of town I thought might be appealing. None was Beverly Hills. Not because of the cost. It just wasn’t on my conscious radar. I gave it more credence a few weeks later, back in Albuquerque. I was walking through a Target parking lot when I passed a silver Ford Escort bearing a faux California license plate under the grill. Instead of a license number was the name Beverly Hills.

Still, I didn’t know what to do with it. And when I did my 9/11 neighborhood meander, Beverly Hills wasn’t high on the travel agenda. Instead, I covered a swath of territory east of Beverly Hills, searching out, as I had vowed to do on my way to the Palazzo apartments, the feeling. I never found it.

Suddenly, on the eastern fringes of Beverly Hills, I was done. Although I'd made no discoveries, I had launched my exploration, and that felt good. Besides, it was lunchtime and I needed to get over to see Guinevere. I called to see if we could all get together for lunch.

“We’ve only just finished breakfast,” Aalia, her mom, said. “Why don’t you just grab a light bite for now. Guinevere will be hungry again in a few hours, and then we can have lunch.”

I figured fast food, then realized I wasn’t in a fast-food part of town.

I studied the map on my iPhone for inspiration. To my surprise, I had one: the Beverly Hills Whole Foods Market. I remembered it from a previous visit and knew it was only a mile or so away. Soup and a bread roll would be perfect.

As I walked into the store, I suddenly felt as though it was my Whole Foods, as though I shopped there all the time — a feeling I’d never had about Whole Foods in either Albuquerque or Santa Fe. I filed it away as curious and got my lunch. After lunch, I walked down the block to The Crescent Beverly Hills, a luxury apartment building I’d noticed from the car. A doorman smiled and opened the door. No leasing agents were on duty over the weekend, he told me, then scribbled a name and number for me to call on Monday. As I left, I experienced that same natural feeling I’d felt in the market.

Back in the car, I took North Crescent to Santa Monica Boulevard, and then North Beverly to westbound Wilshire for the 20-minute drive to Guinevere’s. Now, everything about the area felt normal, natural, home-like. I could see myself sitting in the Starbucks on North Beverly, working on this book. I could see myself on the patio of a Wilshire café, people-watching over lunch. There was a Twilight Zone quality to the experience that left my mind in a muddle.

A few minutes later, I had crossed the city line back into Los Angeles. I gazed at all the Westwood high-rise apartment towers and tried to imagine myself living there. I couldn’t. It was like forcing Cinderella’s glass slipper onto her stepsister’s foot. There was no way it could fit without causing discomfort and pain. In a flash, I was back at the New Frontiers deli counter, hearing “Beverly Hills” in response to Sao’s question. And just as quickly, I started to cry.

The quest was over. I had found the heart of my desire.

How would I realize that desire? There was only one way: to “act as though” and leave the rest in more capable hands.

Adapted from Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Journey of Faith, my memoir-in-progress. Please share as you feel called to. But please, also, include a link back to this post.

Previous excerpts were published here on July 30, August 25, September 1, September 9 and September 10.

Photos by Mark David Gerson: Laguna Beach, Sandia Mountains, the fountain at The Grove, California license plate. Other photos: source unknown.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Acts of Surrender 2: Radical Rebirth

Amazing the things a soul will sign up for just so it can become a writer and have a good story to tell.
~ Mark David Gerson

There's a scene in my novel The MoonQuest where a character who's been living for many years in the safe solitude of a desert oasis hears a voice on the wind that urges him to leave, despite the blinding sandstorm raging beyond the palm trees that ring his insular retreat.
“You must go," the wind insisted.

“Go where?" Kyri asked. "There is nowhere to go. I will die out there."

“Stay, and you are already dead," the wind replied.
I thought about that scene in the days after I returned from my last visit to Los Angeles. I thought about it because of something that happened during the trip and because of something that happened when I got back to Albuquerque.

The L.A. piece of the story occurred as I was walking from my hotel to a Hollywood Starbucks. The phone rang. It was my friend Joan.

"So how do you feel in L.A.?" she asked. "Do you feel joyful? Abundant? Do you feel prosperous?"

I didn't feel any one of those things.

But a single word kept popping into my head as she asked: "Alive."

"I feel alive," I replied.

I've described my planned move to Los Angeles in many ways over the months -- as a call to be answered, as a certainty that this was my right next place, as a surrender to an inner imperative. And while all these have been accurate and remain true, this was the first time I could link L.A. to my life itself.

When I was there, I felt alive.

The Albuquerque piece was equally dramatic. A day after my return, my life here stopped working. No book sales. No new clients. No money coming in to meet even the smallest expenses. It was as though the well of miracles that had sustained me in Albuquerque had suddenly dried up.

I panicked. I grasped for solutions. I felt paralyzed, impotent, angry and scared.

After nearly a week of this, I realized that I felt dead. Not because the money had dried up. No, the money had dried up because I was dead.

Like Kyri in his oasis, my desert sanctuary had ceased to work for me. I knew I had to leave Albuquerque. But how?

"You have to give notice on your condo," my friend Sander insisted in his tough-love way when he called one Friday morning in the midst of my self-pitying despair.

I knew he was right, yet I couldn't see how I could take that particular leap of faith. How could I give up my rental when there was no money to move and no money to land? Hell, there wasn't even money to pay my Albuquerque bills.

Yet even as I argued and resisted, I knew deep inside that my resistance was futile. I knew in my heart that the only way to live was to leave. And the only way to leave was to leap off the highest cliff I'd ever encountered and trust that, as I always had been, I'd be supported.

Nearly 20 years ago, in the earliest months of my conscious spiritual awakening, I woke from a nightmare in which I'd been clinging to the roof ledge of an old-style office tower as an inner voice urged me to jump. I'd refused in the dream.

But in the days that followed, I took that dream image into meditation. In each of three sessions, I tried to let go of that old structure and failed. By the fourth, I was so uncomfortable and so annoyed with the process that I just did it. I unhooked my fingers from the stonework and fully expected to plummet down to the pavement in a messy splat.

Instead, I found myself floating gently, feather-like, until I landed in what I can only describe as the arms of God.

I wish I could say that I remembered that dream on the morning Sander called. I wish I could say that I surrendered joyfully and gracefully. Instead, I was childish, petulant and argumentative...paralyzed by fear.

When, in the moments after I hung up the phone, I recognized this as the pattern that had ruled too much of my early life, I knew I had no choice but to give my notice and step trustingly into the void -- as I'd done so often in the past, as the Fool does in just about every Tarot deck.

The moment I made the decision, even before I wrote and mailed the letter to my landlord, miracles started showing up. The most dramatic was a phone call from an online friend who knew about my L.A. plans but knew nothing of my current situation.

"I was driving to the gym," Adam said, "and I knew I had to call you. I don't know why."

During the course of our hour-long chat, we updated each other on our respective journeys. I said nothing about my perceived crisis, sharing only that I was moving to L.A. on faith -- with no sense of how I would either get there or live there.

"I've got plenty of space," he said. "Stay with me." He lives south of L.A. in Orange County. His street name? Spirit.

The next letting-go was my decision to treat L.A. as a radical rebirth, to sell or get rid of pretty much everything I own (for the sixth time in 16 years) and to step into my new life open, naked and ready for whatever new beginnings awaited me. As I had determined on my very first journey like this -- from Toronto to Nova Scotia in 1994 -- what couldn't fit in my vehicle would not make the journey. And as happened 16 years ago, someone has offered to store the few things I won't be able to fit in my car but that I need to keep (tax records) or choose to keep (journals, boxes of MoonQuests and Voice of the Muse books and CDs).

Two days after Adam's call, I had a visit from another online friend, this one clearly an ambassador from the City of Angels (his online sobriquet is Angel). The 24 hours of his angelic pampering took my mind off the move and its anxieties and, with no action on my part, sent me the most response to any of my Craig's List ads. Another set of miracles.

And the miracles have continued: unexpected gifts of cash, support and love; unexpected contacts and connections; unexpected validations and confirmations; and assorted serendipities, synchronicities and surprises.

I still can't tell you with absolute certainty why I'm moving to L.A. I could offer up myriad reasons to do with writing, coaching and teaching, or with the film business. I could talk about climbing down from the solitude of my mountain aerie to rejoin the world. I could say I miss the ocean, or that my daughter's mom is probably also moving there, which would give me easier access to a daughter I don't see nearly enough. I could say any of these things and they're all likely accurate.

But the deeper truth is that I'm moving to Los Angeles because I have no choice. I'm moving to L.A. because that's where I feel alive.

Even as fears and stresses continue to show up, I know with the deepest of certainties that this move heralds that radical rebirth I mentioned earlier, a rebirth into a wondrous life too amazing to imagine. All I can do in each moment is trust in that rebirth as I listen to the same spirit-wind Kyri heard and step into the unknown.
Barely aware of his actions, Kyri ... shouldered his way through the sand-filled air to the edge of the oasis, to an arch formed by two adjacent palms. Here, long before memory, he had passed into the oasis.

Spitting out the coarse grains that blew into his mouth, he stood uncertainly before this threshold. He turned back but saw nothing. Ahead, the palm arch grew fainter.

“Now," the palms moaned.

“Now," the sand rasped.

“Now," Kyri whispered, and stepped through the arch.”

1 • What can you do to feel more alive in your life?

2 • Where in your life is fear paralyzing you?

3 • Where in your writing or your life can you trust more fully? Where can you more fully allow faith to guide you?

4 • What challenging situations have you experienced that others could benefit from hearing about? Allow yourself to write about them from a place of openness, non-judgment and vulnerability. Allow yourself to write without censoring.

Adapted from Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Journey of Faith, my memoir-in-progress.

• Hollywood photos by Mark David Gerson: Palm Reflections; Hollywood Sign; Hollywood Blvd Billboard; Old-Style Office Tower; Kermit welcomes me to L.A., Jim Henson Studios.

• Excerpts from The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy (LightLines Media)
(c) 2007 Mark David Gerson

• Image of The Fool card from Joseph Ernest Martin's Quest Tarot

Monday, July 12, 2010

Write What’s Right...for Right Now

Feeling blocked on a creative project? Before you call it writer's block, consider whether what you’re writing is the right idea for you right now.

Maybe it’s the right idea for someone else but not for you. Maybe it will be the right idea for you at some point in the future. Or maybe this project was right for you when you began it, but isn't right for you anymore.

It’s possible that you’ve outgrown it. It’s also possible that you haven’t fully grown into it.

I was 100 pages into the first draft of The MoonQuest when I set it aside for what turned into a five-month hiatus.

The day I returned to the book, I was afraid to reread those 100 pages. I was afraid the manuscript wasn’t any good, and I was afraid I had outgrown it and would have to abandon it.

What I realized, once I began reading, was that I hadn’t been ready to continue with The MoonQuest and that’s why my Muse cut me off when it did.

As it turned out, a five month absence from the manuscript gave me the life experience I needed in order to be able to catch up with the story and carry on. I began writing that same day, and three months and 300 additional pages later, the first draft was done.

Sometimes, what seems a block is a matter of timing. Sometimes, it’s just not the right idea. When we drop a project or leave it incomplete, we don’t always know into which of those two categories it falls.

If your discernment tells you to let the project go, don’t mourn the perceived waste of time and energy. Trust that you will either return to it when the time is right or that you’ve gained all you needed from the experience and can now move on to other writing.

Remember, no words you write are ever wasted. They're simply stepping stones on the journey to better words, a better draft or a better project.

A wrong idea isn’t necessarily wrong for all time. But if it’s wrong for right now, let it go and free yourself to write what’s right. For you. Now.

• Are you writing what's right for you right now?

• Are you forcing a project to completion when, perhaps, it's time to let go....for now or for good?

• How can you be more discerning...about your work, about your passion, about your timing?

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.

For excerpts from The Voice of the Muse book and CD, click here.

Need help with any aspect of your writing process or projects? One-on-one coaching/mentoring can help you unleash the power of your creative potential

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You Are A Writer (Yes, You Are!)

You are a writer.
You are a writer of power, passion, strength
and, yes, courage.
For writing is an act of courage.

You are a writer.
What you write is powerful.
What you write is vibrant.
What you write, whatever you believe in this moment, is luminous.

These words are from my guided meditation, "You Are A Writer," which appears in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and is the final recorded meditation for writers on The Voice of the Muse Companion CD.

"You Are A Writer" is now also a video, an empowering meditative experience designed to reaffirm your innate creativity, your writing ability and your identity as a writer.

Sit back...and take a few deep breaths as you relax, look and listen...

(If you're on my mailing list and seeing this in an email, click the image above, which links to my blog and the "You Are A Writer" video. Clicking on the thumbnail of my June 23 mailing, "Facing the Void: Coping with a Blank Page," will take you to another inspiring video.)

• For more videos about writing and the creative process, visit my YouTube page. And watch for the debut of MuseTV, my new series of video interviews with writers and creators of all types and stripes.

• For more tips and inspiration, visit my web site, where you can read my "Rules for Writing," sign up for my mailing list and read/hear free excerpts from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.

• Need help with your projects or creative process? Consider one-on-one coaching/mentoring (over the phone of via Skype) or my upcoming online coaching group (starts Tuesday, June 29 at 6:30pm PT and runs five weeks, skipping July 6).

Buy The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers and The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write from my online bookstore, and be sure to ask for a signed copy of the book. Both are also available on Amazon

Photo/video credits: "Guiding Light" photo, Oceanside California. Title video shot, "River Flow," Olympic National Park, Washington State. All other video photos, Sandia Foothills, Albuquerque, NM. All photography/videography by Mark David Gerson (c) 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Facing the Void: Coping with a Blank Page

What do you do when you face a blank page? It's all about trusting the mystery and taking that leap of faith into the unknown...into the infinite realm where your stories reside.

• For more videos about writing and the creative process, visit my YouTube page. And watch for the debut of MuseTV, my new series of video interviews with writers and creators of all types and stripes.

• For more tips and inspiration, visit my web site, where you can read my "Rules for Writing," sign up for my mailing list and read/hear free excerpts from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.

• Need help with your projects or creative process? Consider one-on-one coaching/mentoring (over the phone of via Skype) or my upcoming online coaching group.

Art Credits: Creative Community Image from