Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Windless Echo: A Short Story Collection by Oliver Kaufman

The Windless Echo is a collection of stories that delve into the minds and feelings of characters as they struggle to resolve, understand, and uncover the realities of their experiences.


Published: January 20th, 2017

The Windless Echo is a collection of stories that delve into the minds and feelings of characters as they struggle to resolve, understand, and uncover the realities of their experiences.

Joy and emptiness, rest and effort, meaning and madness - these and other themes weave their way into the tales and the problems these characters seek to unravel.

Contents: 18 Short stories

Preview on Amazon contains the first story, "The Ashen Heart", and 3/4 of the second, "The Woodchopper's Son".

Writing for Emotional Healing and Personal Transformation

Much of the time, when we receive writing, what we get is the end product, and this can shape our perspective about what writing is. We don't necessarily get to see what went into the writing, nor what the writer got out of it. From this angle, writing can seem like a career choice, wherein one learns the craft of writing, and produces said products - things akin to what can be picked up and read anywhere writing is sold or otherwise available. And, to a certain extent, a writer can learn certain basic principles, and indeed approach it as a craft that already exists as a pre-defined field. With some guidance, and perhaps their own personal touch, they can be on their way.

But, what is the power of writing? How can writing be a powerful experience? How can anyone, who knows the craft or not, create in such a way that enables them to witness transformation, growth, and shifts in perspective within their own, personal experience?

Life comes with its own set of challenges. It isn’t all about writing a book that other people are going to like, or even creating anything that’ll be liked or enjoyed by others. We all can experience stress, fear, pain, intrigue, heartache, confusion, longing, curiosity, and more. And we can nurture ourselves, in these closer areas of life, in such a way that we find ways to do things like work through our pains or enable our creativity. Where we feel stuck, we can find a way through. What we’d like to understand, we can look into, question, and look for new perspectives on. We can test and experiment with our imagination, looking for new ways that things could be, rather than being stuck with what we already know. We can expand, and bring ourselves in touch with realities that, through empathy and imagination, we can grow closer to, feel as more real, and learn from.

Writing is one way to engage with and transform these life experiences. There are many other ways, but writing is particularly well suited to putting dynamic pieces of reality into concrete details through words. A painting, for instance, might depict one moment in vivid and silently descriptive detail, but words can more easily describe a string of moments, and how things develop over time.

So what goes into writing, such that it, for the writer, has this power to transform, enhance, or inform life? How can it empower the individual?

To start with, the writer has the freedom to choose what they write, and thus, what kind of content they put into their words. For instance, they might choose to write something purely informational, which may rely on the mind’s capacity to recall information, or perhaps on the individual’s ability to locate said information and find relevant, trustworthy sources from which to draw on. Or, they might write purely what they think is cool, or what sounds to them like it would be impressive to a particular audience. For them, they might rely mostly on their sense of what’s cool, or what they find exciting. Maybe they just set out to write something “great”, and to that end, may end up comparing their writing to the writing of others, in an effort to have their own writing “measure up” to their own personal ideal. Or, they might write to see how good they are at writing, which again, sets what they produce at odds with what they see as ideal.

But what does it take to write for personal transformation? First, there’s the motive to consider. If you as an individual feel driven to transform your own life in some way, and you can see how writing might assist that, then the way you write will likely be affected by that. Such writing wouldn’t be about other people, but about the impact that the very act of writing has on you, the writer.

Writing, then, can be for one’s self, and this kind of writing, through its very nature, can not only have a transformative effect on the writer, but potentially can have the power to benefit other people also.

So then, how does one write for one’s self? First, writing can be seen as a tool to explore. But, explore what? Well, one can look first at one’s best interests. Sometimes, these can be hard to distinguish. We may have mental interests, but at the same time we may have things inside us, things we don’t understand, that affect us on a deeper, more emotional level. We might have annoyances, pains, fears, past upsets, struggles, or places where it seems like there’s no way out, or where nothing seems to move forward at all. To that end, understanding our feelings, and any potential emotional entanglements, can be a pursuit that benefits ourselves, even if we might try to avoid these things or postpone our engagement with them.

If, then, we put our emotions into writing, we may find a way to see them change. This won’t happen, necessarily, through us forcefully trying to choose how we should feel, but rather through an understanding of where those emotions come from, and an exploration of how they function. By sincerely pouring this part of one’s reality into writing, one can further empower one’s self to take ownership of one’s emotional well-being. And, occupying that place of responsibility, one can more easily steer one’s emotional life in positive, new, and even unexpected directions through one’s own effort, awareness, and connection with the emotional aspects of one’s self.

Now, whatever you write from this place of connection may have a power to it that not only affects your own life, but can affect other lives also. And even if you choose not to share that writing, if it still enabled you to have a positive, transformative life experience, you can still share from that place of transformation. Yes, you could talk about it directly, but what you have to share can also have to do with how you yourself have changed. You might have greater joy, peace, serenity, or love, just within your being. The positivity of these states can go outwards, and affect other people positively also. No, it may not be reliable that you find yourself in such magical states all or even much of the time, but if you pursue greater well-being for yourself, you may indeed find success.

And as far as whether or not this kind of writing can be sold, really this depends on what’s written. Sometimes, it may be extraordinarily powerful to you, but confusing or obtuse to others. With editing and searching for the right audience, or even through putting your personal experiences into some clearer form, you may find a way to connect these two worlds, and publish something that both helps others and whose creation was beneficial, in some way, to you.

Overall, writing can be a powerful tool for those looking to transform themselves personally. And, one of the central ways one can do this is through the expression of emotion and feeling that goes into what’s written. Whether it’s through journaling, or through characters who’re exploring similar things, you can find ways to put what’s relevant and important to you into your writing. And no matter how or if you share it, if you find something positive through your writing, that can be expressed and felt in your life in many ways.

If you want to try this out for yourself, you can try the following exercise. It’s designed to guide you through the process of creating a story that can help you transform and heal areas of your life where you might be in some kind of turmoil, struggle, or pain right now:
  1. What’s an emotion in your life that you’re struggling with the most right now? Maybe you feel it in relation to a particular issue. Whatever it is, bring it to mind, and think about what it would look like as an environment or location of some kind. What would this emotion look like?
  2. Now, who are you in relation to this emotion? What kinds of things are you trying to accomplish, and what’s your behavior like when you feel this way? Imagine this version of you as their own distinct character. This will be the main character in your story.
  3. Imagine now this main character is in the environment you imagined from step 1 - a place shaped to reflect the emotion you’re struggling with most. How does the scene open? Find the opening, and describe it in writing.
  4. Next, continue to describe the story, at whatever pace makes sense, in terms of how things develop for the main character. What does he or she try, and how does the environment respond? What’s effective, and what isn’t? Are they going to give up, or fight on? No matter what they do, where does the story go from there? You can use writing to explore the possibilities and discover how things unfold. Do any new scenes, environments, or characters emerge? As you move forward, you can listen to your feelings for information, and also act, through your character, to move the story along, depending on what you, or that part of you, wants to do.
  5. Since you can let your motive for resolving things drive the story, you can also let the story subside once the central conflicts or struggles have been resolved. That said, it may take longer than expected, and you might find yourself wanting to take breaks, start different stories, or put it aside entirely - and that’s more than okay. This is something to experiment with for your own personal well-being - not something that has to be stuck to in a regimented way. Therefore, when you’re ready to put your story aside, you can.
And that’s it! What emerges from these kinds of stories may surprise you, or bring you peace where it might’ve been difficult to find before. Whatever the case, it’s my hope that this gave you something to think about and perhaps try for yourself.

As a last note, most of the stories in my book, The Windless Echo, are made in a similar sort of way, and all contain things that relate to my own personal experiences of life. They largely draw on the feelings, thoughts, and experiences I found myself in, during that time of writing. And it’s my hope that these stories are able to carry over something of the positive impact that writing them had for my own life. If they can inspire, help someone to move forward in an area they’re working through, or bring a little joy, or a sense of wonder - then, in my view, all the better.

Thank you to Mythical Books for hosting me here, and I wish everyone all the best in whatever challenges you’re facing in your own life, and that you find a positive way through. Take care.

Two of the stories, "The Woodchopper's Son" and "The Prisoner of the Ashen Lake", have been put into audio form, read by the author, and can be found here

About the author:
Oliver Kaufman is an author and the founder of theworldwithin.org, a website dedicated to self-awareness, self-healing, growth, and the exploration of one’s own inner, conscious world. He currently lives in Redmond, Washington, in the US.

1 comment:

Oliver Kaufman said...

Awesome! Thank you for hosting me and inviting me to do a guest post, and for the great way you presented my post here.

If anyone has any questions, I'll be sticking around in the comments, both today, and in the foreseeable future, if anyone leaves a reply to this comment.