Announcing the winners of Laurie Schnebly Campbell's contest: Comment #21 and #35 as chosen by random.org. Congratulations to Alice Fleury and Melissa Racine. You can contact Laurie to arrange your free class.
And now, you're in for a real treat, as Kathryn Craft continues her Turning Whine Into Gold series.
Do you ever seek to connect with certain people for the primary reason that they have beautiful energy about them? I do, and just thinking of them can bring a big boost to my day. They are deep thinkers, endlessly curious, good listeners, resilient as all get-out, and, like a tennis player bouncing in the ready position, seemingly game for whatever comes next. I recognize them at first meeting, because they don’t (read: “cannot”) hide their light under a bushel. I always look forward to seeing them, because I know that without a doubt, I will come away the richer for it.
In the theory of synchronicity put forth in his 1993 novel, The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield suggests that any meeting between two people who are acting from their “higher selves” is meant to have this effect on each other. Can I prove that this is so? No—but I love thinking about it.
Redfield’s book was a spiritual guide thinly disguised as a novel. As literature it was roundly criticized—as would be any plot that relies entirely on coincidence. But I have learned to pay attention when a book is a runaway hit, assuming it has some takeaway for me (yes, even Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight). The Celestine Prophecy enjoyed a 165-week perch on the New York Times Best Seller list, and in 1995 and 1996 it was the #1 book in the world. It changed the way I came to view the give-and-take in every interaction.
While two people who are acting from their higher selves will feed each other’s energy, people acting from their lower selves tend to try to steal that energy. Redfield suggests this energy theft happens in one of several predictable ways—and the first sheds light on the very nature of whining.
I hate to say it, but this is my control drama. When I am tired, or feel beaten or broken, I whine (I’ve been writing Turning Whine Into Gold for three years now—how do you think I came to know so much about it?). When I whine to another person, I seek their comfort. I have nothing else to give back right then. I want to build myself up by syphoning off some of their energy. This is a relatively passive form of control.
My husband has beautiful energy, but this is his drama when acting from his lower self. He goes into his man cave (okay, office) and shuts himself off until I venture forth to find out what’s wrong. Knowing that I will eventually chase after him is his way of syphoning energy off of me. Not that it takes that many steps to go find out, or burns that many calories to ask, but his low-pressure system causes an energy suck that I can feel even when I’m up in my writing loft.
This was my mother’s control drama. She would woo me with empathetic-seeming questions until she had my trust, seeking my weakness, and then be critical of my answers. You must keep your guard up around an interrogator at all times, anticipating their thoughts and actions so you can avoid the criticism. Keeping you off-balance is how the interrogator syphons your energy.
This is the most aggressive form of energy manipulation. Through threats or abuse, the intimidator forces you to put him or her at the center of the relationship at a great deal of emotional cost to you—but oh, do they feel powerful in the end.
At the very least, these control dramas may be of use in your fiction. At best, they can improve the relationships you rely upon to maintain your writing career.
An awareness that your control drama has been tripped can make you quicker to realize that it’s time to spend some time alone and shore up your reserves. Because our work is passion-driven, there’s a trap for all writers: once we identify as a writer seeking publication, we tend to focus on what we want—from our relationships with our agent (sell for big money!), editor (make me shine!), publicist (make my book visible everywhere!) and even our readers (buy more and review more I beg of you!). Oh, and could our husbands and/or children please be more understanding and supportive—or, let’s face it, self-sufficient?
Such desires are understandable, but when (inevitably) unmet, they can be like bleeding out, draining you to the point you are ready to suck energy like a vampire from any warm-blooded source.
At such times we need more of those energy-boosting exchanges—but ironically, to benefit, we have to contribute. If you want to create a publishing team that works—even on the home front—try to think of the ways your enthusiasm can foster the effort.
What do you bring to your relationships with your agent, publisher, publicist, and family? You bring a book, yes—but that’s a product. How does your writing help make you a better person, and how can you bring that to your relationships? How do you protect your energy so that you can avoid slipping into a control drama?
If you have anyone with beautiful energy in your life, please pay them tribute in the comments. Then emulate!
Kathryn Craft is the award-winning author of two novels from Sourcebooks: The Art of Falling, and The Far End of Happy. Her chapter “A Drop of Imitation: Learn from the Masters” will appear in the forthcoming guide from Writers Digest Books, Author in Progress, available now for pre-order.
Her work as a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft, follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she leads workshops and speaks often about writing.