I haven’t posted in a while, and I thought I would jot down some thoughts on writing and Active Imagination but also give an update on where I am with the novel. First, let me assure you that I’ve been continuing my excursion into Active Imagination as I continue to write my vampire novel. I have had some problems from time to time but these occurred mostly when I’d have a relapse of my CFS or have a cold. Still, I’ve stayed with it remarkably well for the past two years. I started writing the vampire novel almost exactly one year ago after experimenting and developing my version of Active Imagination for the first year.
First some thoughts on Active Imagination and then an update on the novel. Much of this is repetition of thoughts in previous posts, but this is the way it comes out right now.
I sleep alone, and my bedroom has become a much different place than it was prior to Active Imagination. It has become a place where things happened instead of a place where I sleep, and is a place for adventure. Sleep has also became something other than a time when my body and mind rest. Sleep has become a ground for experimentation. I have found new ways to enter sleep. At times I even attempt to take imaginary characters with me into my dreams.
But it has also at times become a burden. At times, I’d wake in the morning exhausted from a night of dream activity and writing sessions. Since I’m retired and can do whatever I want during the day, including napping, I can tolerate this intrusion into my normal nighttime sleep patterns. But at times, I’ve also become bored with the process and just sleep. I do believe my periods of being awake during the night have become less frequent, and my sleep has been deeper. Currently, my dreams are not as bizarre as they were for a while. I rarely meet strange creatures in my dreams. I say this with certain reservations because if I don’t write down my dreams, I don’t recognize their profound significance as I do frequently during my waking hours.
I have found that I can rely on AI to solve problems with my storyline and also develop new material. I developed almost the entire vampire novel in AI sessions, mostly during the night but sometimes during the day. When I closed my eyes, I’d step into the Iris of Time, contact my narrator, fall into my story and write for sometimes as much as three hours. The fictional world was vivid, and the story unfolded by itself. At times I did reach stumbling blocks where I’d not know which way the story was leading me, and I’d have to allow a week or two before it sorted itself out in my unconscious. Then one night, it’d come to me, and I’d break through the logjam and the story would flow freely.
I used my writing time during the day to edit the material I’d generated during an AI session but also to incorporate appropriate details from my research. The material from my Unconscious seems to be unadorned, as Kerenyi said about zoë. I’d also research topics that I wished to introduce in the novel to prime me for an AI session. Consciousness and the Unconscious work together in this way.
Now for the update on the vampire novel. Finished! Well, just the first draft, really. The novel has taken much longer than I anticipated. I originally thought I’d be finished in six months or so, but it’s taken an entire year to get the first draft. The editing of a novel, which follows the creative period, I view as being a part of Jung’s alchemical processes. In perfecting my novel, I’m now looking to Jungian alchemic processes to see how Jung’s individuation can be applied to the editing process. The word ‘editing’ has such a limited range that I’m looking for another to apply to the process, one which hopefully will more fully connote the intricate process and the ultimate goal toward which it strives. The alchemic process, in its most popular depiction as the transformation of lead into gold, and with its elimination of extraneously material and ultimate perfection of the subject seems the perfect place to start.
I’ve already been through the novel a second time on my computer, separating the ore from the slag, so to speak, and now I’m in the middle of editing a hardcopy. Editing from a printout is much different from editing on a computer screen. I experience them as different processes.
Toward the end, I did have some problems. Once I wrote for a couple of hours, providing the details and practically a complete narrative for a couple of chapters, only to learn that none of it had actually gone into my computer. (See here for how I do AI.) I had no way to retrieve it because it never reached my computer. It took me several weeks to uncover the material, and I honestly believe that I never did recover it fully. It was as if I’d mined a vein, lost the material, and the vein was gone. It seemed that the process was destructive of the material in the unconscious. Once the material had been brought across the transcendent function, the bridge, it no longer existed in the unconscious. All I had left was my memory that resided in the conscious, which was poor. The unconscious is the Land of Forgetting, and when consciousness encounters material there, if it isn’t written down immediately, it evaporates in the harsh world of the conscious. I’m still struggling with these portions of the novel. I doubt they’ll never be what they should.
I have also continued to give my narrator, an entity from my psychic space, a life as if she exists in the real world. This is an additional fictional narrative also pulled from AI sessions. Her life is at least as interesting to me as that of the characters in my novel. It is equally spontaneously and her continuing narrative is amazingly autonomous. I try to remember to contact my narrator before I write any material for the novel because after all it does come from her. This seems to be both true and not true. Some of it comes from creative processes I’ve used for decades; however, even that comes from my Unconscious, and to think that some of it doesn’t come from her may simply be my ego’s own quest for possession of the material. All in all, the novel does seem much more to be the work of another person than have my previous novels. Although I must say that my first novel, being written in first-person, did seem as though I was channeling someone. I even had dreams of him and at times felt a lot of jealousy toward him that my novel was about his life rather than my own. After all, I did actually live during that time period in that setting.