Tuesday, April 27, 2010

LA Countdown: My *2 Final* NM Writing Events

If you follow this blog, you'll know I'll soon be leaving New Mexico for Los Angeles. As far as I know, these are my final New Mexico workshops. I hope you can join me for one or both!

Also, as part of my moving plans, I'm offering discounts of up to 45% on my private coaching services for a limited time. Wherever you live, let me help you unleash the power of your creative potential with one-on-one coaching and/or mentoring!

Registration information for all Mark David's events
Contact Mark David for more information

• Saturday, May 1 ~ 2-6pm

Learn to create rich, true-to-life characters with the depth to propel your stories from the mundane to the magical, from the predictable to the unexpected.
(Full-day version of Mark David’s 90-minute seminar at the June 2010 Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe)

• Saturday, May 8 ~ 10-5pm

Treat your edit as an act of re-Vision,
of revisiting your original vision for your work.
From there, put all your heart, art and skill into
aligning what’s on the page with that vision.

Discover how to en-Vision your work and to revise it effectively and gently -- in ways that respect not only your work but you as its creator.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Free Your Characters. Free Your Story.

"God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. ..."

Your act of creation is like God’s in Genesis, an act of allowance, of letting...of surrender. Surrender to the story that calls to be written, surrender to how it calls to be written, surrender to the lives your characters choose to live. For, if you’re writing fiction, those lives are your story.

Just as the Creator in most religious and spiritual traditions allows you the free will to live your imperative and forge your story through the living of it, your call is to allow the beings who leap from your heart, mind and vision the same freedom. Gently guide when necessary, but allow them -- and yourself -- to experience their story as it writes itself onto the page.

William Faulkner recognized this when he wrote, "It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does."

Your job as creator, like William Faulkner's, is to let your characters and their story emerge from the formless void and to breathe life into them so that they -- and you -- can experience all they have come onto your page to live.

Let there be light...and there will be.

• Where are you not letting your characters tell their story and live their imperative?
• How can you free your characters to let them tell their story to you?
• Where are you being too controlling -- over your characters and over your story?

• Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson

Free Your Characters, Free Your Story:
Spring Seminars & Workshops

Storytelling is about people living the same lives we live, experiencing the same emotions we experience, facing the same challenges we face. Storytelling is about fully embodied people who are more than characters. It's about readers who experience their lives through the lives of our characters.

Let Mark David guide you to free your characters and your stories this spring as you learn how to...
• Discover who your characters are and how they're living their stories
• Create rich, true-to-life characters who live rich, true-to-life experiences that leap off the page and into your reader's heart and mind
• Propel your stories from the mundane to the magical, from the predictable to the unexpected

Albuquerque Character Workshop
Saturday, May 1 ~ 10 am to 5 pm

(Discounted through April 26)

Santa Fe Character Seminar
(part of the Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe)
Friday, June 4 ~ 3:15 to 4:45 pm

More information on all Mark David's events

Photo credits: Bald Eagle State Park by Mark David Gerson; William Faulkner from Mental Floss magazine

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Novel Approach to Birthing Your Book

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
~ W. Somerset Maugham

Somerset Maugham may have been talking about fiction. But, for me, that statement applies to the birth of any book. And it's no surprise that I love that quote, given how perfectly it supports my first "rule" for birthing your book...

1. There are no rules.
This is the one rule that never changes. No matter what you’re writing or revising, the only unqualified certainties are that flow is fluid, your creation is unique and your book writes its own rules. Truly, there is no universal right or wrong way. There is only your way, the way of your book.

• Can you surrender to the higher wisdom of your story and its characters?
• Can you follow your book wherever it takes you, even if that direction seems to make no sense?
• Can you trust that your book knows its story/theme/content better than you ever will?
• Can you, as does Isabel Allende, give up your need to know why you've been called to a particular story or book? She says she rarely knows why she's writing a book until months after it's been published.
• Can you forego control and let your book and your muse be in charge of your creative journey?

If you need help birthing your book and you're in New Mexico, check out my upcoming workshop, Birthing Your Book...Even If You Don't Know What It's About.

And if you're not able to make it to the workshop, check out my super-discounted rates for private coaching -- part of my moving-to-LA celebrations!

Rule for birthing your book adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write. (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson

Image of Somerset Maugham from Somerset Maugham's Ten Best Novels of The World

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Muse & You with Mark David Gerson (#10): Radio About Writing, Creativity & Life

Episode Ten: Thursday, April 15, 1pm ET

(click here to listen live or to listen to or download the archived version any time after the show airs)

• Inspiration for your creative life and to help you live creatively
• Ask the Writing Coach (your questions for me about writing and creativity)

• Feature interview with Gail Lynne Goodwin, founder of inspiremetoday.com.

If you're feeling uninspired, you haven't yet come across Gail Lynne Goodwin. This global ambassador of inspiration has made it her mission in life to keep as many people awake, impassioned, vibrant and inspired as she can. She does it through her blog on The Huffington Post, through the World's Longest (18 miles long) Letter of Love and Support she initiated in support of US troops in the Persian Gulf, through her upcoming Global Hug Tour and, the way we first met, through the scores of "inspirational luminaries" she's interviewed for her Inspire Me Today web site -- among them Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, authors/speakers Jack Canfield, Jane Attwood, Arielle Ford and Bernie Siegel....and me!

Named one of the 25 most inspiring people on Twitter, Gail is one of the most positive, uplifting people I know, determined to motivate, encourage and impassion everyone she encounters -- not from a place of Pollyana-ish false optimism, but from a genuine belief in the power of the human spirit to transcend difficulty and transform lives.

Whether you need inspiration in your writing, your life or both (and who can't use more inspiration?), Gail's words and energy will propel you into a keener appreciation of your potential and into the next steps to begin to meet that potential.
Each day I bounce out of bed full of energy and joy, knowing that our site is making a difference, not only to Jesse and his buddies in Iraq, but also to the single mom in Iowa, the corporate exec in California or the entrepreneur in Florida.

Through the inspiration of our Luminaries, people’s thoughts and attitudes are changing. Lives are changing. And from that, we can change the world -- one morning, one person at a time.
~ Gail Lynne Goodwin, "InspireMeToday brings Inspiration to Iraq"
In this episode of The Muse & You, you'll hear how Gail's hunger for inspiration has come to feed so many others and we'll talk about one of my favorite topics: that magical meeting place where life and creativity intersect. Gail will also share what inspires her -- both in her life and on her mission to inspire others. And we'll celebrate, nine days late, the second anniversary of InspireMeToday.com.

We’re going to change the format slightly for today’s show -- and the content, too...

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I like to talk a lot about those places where life and creativity intersect. Not only do I it here, I do it in my talks, my writing workshops, my coaching sessions and my books. In fact, I do it pretty much everywhere because I'm convinced that the precepts that support our creativity also support a creative life...that writing from a surrendered, open-hearted place offers as many rich rewards as living from that same surrendered, open-hearted place.

On today’s show, we’re going to explore that common ground — first by comparing my "rules" for writing and for life, then by talking to Gail Lynne Goodwin and, finally, by guiding you through a meditation designed to ignite not only your passion for creativity but your passion for life. This is not a meditation you’ll hear anywhere else from me. Rather, it’s one I will surrender to in the moment — created word-by-word from the flow of the show, created just for you!

Please tune in, and bring your questions -- for me and for Gail!

There are three ways to ask questions of my and my guests or to post comments:
• Post your questions in the show's chat room (free Blog Talk Radio account required)
• Post your questions directly to me on Twitter (@markdavidgerson)
• Post your questions directly to me on on my Facebook wall

The Muse & You with Mark David Gerson, is all about writing, creativity and life -- an opportunity to listen to writers and creators of all sorts talk about how and why they create and, of course, about what they create. It's also an opportunity for you to ask your questions -- of both me and my guests.

Listen to The Muse & You with Mark David Gerson on the third Thursday of every month at 1pm ET (10am PT). May's guest: author Lev Raphael.

The Muse & You Show Archive
If you miss any live broadcast, you can listen to the archived episode, which is available immediately after each show on the show's web page. You can also download any show directly into your computer for later listening.

#7 ~ Jan 21 ~ Cristina M.R. Norcross, author of Unsung Love Songs

#6 ~ Dec 17 -- Karen Walker author of Following the Whispers

#5 ~ Nov 19 -- Dan Stone author of The Rest of Our Lives

#4 ~ Oct 15 -- Kristin Bair O'Keeffe author of Thirsty

#3 ~ Sept 17 - Joanne Chilton and Jeanne Ripley co-authors of Wings to Fly

#2 ~ Aug 20 -- Jared Lopatin, author of Rising Sign

#1 ~ July 29Julie Isaac, founder of Twitter's #writechat, and Malcom Campbell, author of
The Sun Singer and Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Different Kind of April Fool

Legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury says that writing is about leaping off cliffs and trusting that you'll sprout wings on the way down. It's the way of the Fool in the Tarot: that surrendered leap of faith into the void that alchemically transforms something that, in the moment, appears to make no sense into art.
Life is like that, too. And why wouldn't it be when the precepts of one apply equally to the other, when the first rule of both is that there are no rules.

Not only do I do my best to write that way, I do my best to live that way. It's scary, but ultimately satisfying. And even though it means living and writing without a net, those wings Bradbury talks about have never failed to appear.

They first showed themselves to me in a dream I had nearly 20 years ago. In it, I was clinging to the roof ledge of a 1950s-style office building while an inner voice kept urging me to jump. I didn't...I couldn't. And I woke up scared and upset.

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'm in that space today, as I feel a powerful pull to leave the embracing support of Albuquerque's Sandia Mountains and move to Los Angeles...to let got the comfort of the known for the shifting tectonic plates of the unimaginable. Nothing about such a move makes conventional sense. And there are plenty of people who have been happy to remind me of that. In this moment, I can't even see how it's possible.

Yet I'm reminded of a recent interview Apple's Steve Jobs gave, in which he said, "You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

He's right. It's never let me down. I've made many moves and done many risky things that defy logic and convention. And although I've experienced discomfort along the way, the ultimate rewards have far outweighed the fallout.

I wouldn't be in Albuquerque right now -- or even in the U.S. -- had I not honored a call, back in 1997, to leave Toronto with everything I owned in the back of a minivan and just hit the road. Three months of seemingly random journeying landed me in Sedona, AZ and gifted with a new country, a new daughter and a new life. A similar if tenfold-longer journey brought me to New Mexico and allowed me to gift the world with two new books.

I've discovered that once I commit to the highest possible path and purpose, a trinity of principles is always at play:
1) Trust
2) Let Go
3) Leap

First, I trust the voice of my deepest heart, which is also the voice of my divinity, my god-self, my muse, my highest imperative. Next, I let go of all resistance, all clinging and all clutching (which doesn't mean I'm not afraid and which also doesn't mean I have to know how it's possible). Finally, I leap into the void -- just like that Fool in the Tarot.

Of course, I'm not always without resistance. "You want me to do what!?" I've been known to exclaim when presented with a next step. That happened a few years ago, when an inner voice interrupted my on-the-road reveries and urged me to refresh, revise and overhaul my modest Voice of the Muse eBook into the expanded and published form that's now won two awards.

Yet once the initial shock dissipated (my novel, The MoonQuest, had been out barely a month at that point), I surrendered to the higher imperative. I trusted, let go and leapt...and watched all the requisite resources begin to fall into place, often miraculously.

Miracles are present in every moment of our lives. It's our limited vision that prevents us from seeing them. It's our limited sense of what's possible that prevents us from believing in them. It's our fear that prevents us from embracing them.

Those miracles are available to us equally magnificently in our writing and in our lives. What else would you call the logic-defying cohesion of The MoonQuest, written with no conscious notion of its story, except as the words of that story moved through me onto the page? That same miracle is repeating itself in The MoonQuest's sequel, The StarQuest, whose first draft miraculously displayed the same coherence when, once again, the story had only revealed itself word-by-word.

As I move into my California countdown (I expect to be living there in time for my keynote talk at San Diego's Body Mind Spirit Expo in October, on my birthday weekend), I know that the miracles required to make the move possible, graceful and prosperous will show themselves to me -- as I trust, let go and, always playing the Fool, take that surrendered leap of faith into the void.

Trust. Let Go. Leap. It's now a chapter in The Voice of the Muse. It's the only way I know how to live.

In my writing as in my life, it always works.

• Image of The Fool card from the Osho Zen Tarot, published by St. Martin's Press. Illustrated by Ma Deva Padma

• I encountered the car with the Beverly Hills front plate in a Target parking lot, one of many signs validating my leap of faith


Because of my planned move to California, my spring series of Albuquerque writing events is my last. Coming up in April and May is

• a 5-week Voice of the Muse Coaching Group, launching on April 13 (with April 4 the deadline to save on the registration fee), and

• a series of full and half-day workshops covering memoir-writing, character development, editing/revision and birthing your book.

• I'll also be giving two seminars at the Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe on June 3 and 4 (free with conference registration).


If you can't make it to New Mexico, join a separate 5-week Voice of the Muse Coaching Group, which I'm offering over the phone via conference call, starting Sunday, April 11. All you need to participate is a telephone with long-distance access.