To conceptualize the novelsmithing process using Jung’s Active Imagination, I first suggest a graphical relationship between the conscious mind and the Unconscious. It is a big brother, little brother graphic with the big brother standing over the smaller little brother brow-beating him, scolding him, except that both brothers are the same person. This represents both Consciousness and the Unconscious residing in the novelsmith, with Consciousness always invalidating material from the Unconscious. The human mind cannot function if it is constantly being bombarded with material from the Unconscious; therefore, it ignores material from the Unconscious, or perhaps I should say doesn’t even know that it is receiving material, ideas, from the Unconscious, and even if it does, it invalidates it. But the Unconscious is the source of all inspiration. The ego, with its over-inflated opinion of itself, believes inspiration comes from within itself. Perhaps one could even say that Consciousness always wants to believe that it is the source of creativity and hides the fact that it comes from the Unconscious, even from itself.
Another graphic will illustrate the nature of separate activities that go on inside the psyche. They are: (1) ego-driven internal dialogue, (2) images that seem to come from within the Unconscious of which we have limited awareness but which are constantly present and ever changing, and (3) an area, which the person can construct, that I call the Iris of Time, wherein the individual may conduct activities associated with Jung’s Active Imagination, i.e., that psychic space wherein the creative-writing process occurs. This is an ordered but autonomous-functioning part of the Unconscious that steps forward and confronts Consciousness. Consciousness must be accepting of the Unconscious or it will not participate at all. The Unconscious is at first incredibly shy and unassuming in the presence of Consciousness, but it may become aggressive, arrogant and intolerant if given leeway to be so. It also may be accepting and tolerant. It just depends on the entity that has stepped forward. Consciousness must be accepting and yet suspicious of this activity of the Unconscious because great evil lurks there as well. Consciousness must always be on its guard. Some evil must be dealt with and exploited because it plays a part in the real world we depict in our fiction.
A third graphic would illustrate the function of the Iris of Time, the technique I am using to write my mystery novel. The graphic would show the author on the left, his psyche just to the right, and within his psyche, the Iris of Time, at which stands the Guardian of the Gate, who opens and closes it. The author always addresses the Guardian to get her to open the Iris. Once inside, the author speaks a few words to all the entities residing there, saying that he comes in peace and expresses that he would like to request the help with those who believe they can contribute to his work. The author then calls forth the narrator of his story. The narrator contains or creates the script but the narrator has also collected about her all her characters, which she has contacted with from within the Unconscious. I have used a pen name as the author of my vampire novel, but instead of just using another name for myself, I have used the pen as a separate psychic entity that I envision as writing the novel.
To create my novel, I first created my narrator. My narrator, once again, is the pen name under which I am writing the novel. To provide a clearer idea of who she is in my mind, I created, or allowed her to create, a life for herself through Active Imagination. She gave herself a “real” life in Romania. I also set up a blog for her where she describes what is going on in her life. Her novel also has a website where she presents previews of chapters and some associated short stories she has written about her characters. Now when I write, I go to her to get her to tell me the story of her characters. Her main character is a young woman of eighteen who becomes a vampire. In working with all this, I first gather all this psychic space and these psychic entities around me, and then I write as the novel content comes to me.
I do this method along with the Iris of Time to activate the Unconscious, to provide a separate psychic space within which I can write the novel. My narrator might be termed my anima (Jung). Once I am involved in the process, I let the material flow to me, accepting the content but evaluating its appropriateness for the novel. In working out this appropriateness, I consult with my narrator/author. We have established a working relationship. Graphically, it all looks like this.
The graphic shows me as the author, my psyche, the Iris of Time, with the Guardian of the Gate standing before it, then the narrator, and then the protagonist alongside the antagonist, and a crowd of people beyond them in silhouette to represent the rest of the characters.
I try to be disciplined, and yet I’m not too hard on myself. Once the process really starts to work and I’m writing like a whirlwind, I lose the separateness of the process, and we all merge into one, which is in fact the way it is.
I realize that I write about all this as if I know what I’m talking about. The visitor to this blog should read this post.