Tag Archives: writing

Brainwashing

Fantasy, Illusion, Sailboat, Sea, Sky, Ocean, Clouds

Yesterday, a friend sent me an email on how all social media information goes public on such and such day. Beware.

I said, Gina, that’s not true. I looked it up. My friend didn’t care. She said, Well, who knows. Just in case. Over the years, I’ve known Gina (not her real name) to be a reasonable person, with a good head on her shoulders. Lately, however, between the pandemic closures, information spinning out of control, and social-media tribalism, she sends me doom and gloom links all the time.

Just in case, she says.

In case what, exactly?

In case rational is irrational, and irrational is rational. Or the world is upside down or downside up.

That, I think, is the idea concocted in the ether of ideas. Spin everything so we no longer know what’s what.

Take a look around, and brainwashing is a real epidemic.

Used to be an ailment mostly affecting teens, or at least that’s how I remember it. Gina is in her fifties.

And is it manipulation or brainwashing? Or both? Is Gina liable to turn into a nut long term, or is this just a phase?

The latter, I hope. Because if not, I’m about to tell her I saw Big Foot. And if it wasn’t Big Foot, well, I’m still inclined to believe so, just in case.

We all have our fears, right? Fear of falling ill, fear of losing someone or something, fear of being forced to alter our lives. Having those fears played into, that’s what leads to brainwashing and/or manipulation.

Gina has a fear of losing her privacy, among other fears. To her, the idea of private chats or private information becoming public brings an unbearable amount of shame (chats may have involved gossip :)). She fears her private information would be used against her. So, when whoever put the claim out there that facebook is going to disregard laws and turn private matters public, she panicked.

Playing into people’s fears is an effective way to alter behavior.

According to the American Psychological Association, “Fear appeals are persuasive messages that emphasize the potential danger and harm that will befall individuals if they do not adopt the messages’ recommendations.” Source.

So, we are pounded directly and subliminally with messages of fear. How we respond varies widely.

I emailed Gina back: Fear not, strong woman, fear not, and shout it from the roof top: (a paraphrased quote).

No answer so far. I don’t know if the message got through, or she just gave up on me.

photo credit: pixabay

I send out stories and publication info from time to time. It’s free. No spam. Subscribe below.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

START AGAIN, short stories. Plus my Gift to You

START AGAIN, my short-story collection, is now live, Amazon tells me.

Why, thank you very much.

It was a joy writing the five stories in this collection, each previously published by online magazines.

START AGAIN is about five different women who go through the unpredictable moments that make life extraordinary. 

To celebrate, I am gifting ebook copies between now and September 4th.

Please let me know below where to email the notification for the ebook, if you’d like a copy.

Of course, reviews – if you have the time in this busy world of ours – would be much appreciated.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Value of Good Memories

This memory of mine appeared at The Scheherazad Chronicles years back – a literary blog I highly recommend. I’d like to share it here, as I am preparing to release START AGAIN.

Bloggers need bloggers and writers need writers.

If you’d like to reach a different audience, and want to share your tales, I’d be happy to publish them here and share with my audience. Blog-length stories, no longer than 600 words.

GOOD MEMORIES

Tonight, I sit for long spells in wakeful silence while sudden memories encroach upon my world. Lines stretch across the pages of my journal. Sleep abandons me. My eyes are open but not to the present, to a time and place from long ago. I ride my breath in and out as if it were the swells of a sea. Although my body grows calm from sitting still, I rock slightly with the pulse of my heart.

I drift away on a memory.

~~~

A thirteen-year-old girl is sitting cross-legged in a tent no larger than a closet, reading. The tent is on a beach along the Black Sea coast; a place so quiet she could hear the pulse of the earth, the moaning of the sea. It’s not her ideal getaway, but Mom insisted this was what the family needed. A long vacation to the sea, in a tent, camping. All summer long, Mom said, so bring lots of books. Sure, the young girl loves reading, but why travel three hours by train, another hour by car, then forever by foot, and spend a whole summer in a tent on a secluded beach with her books? She can do that comfortably, at home.

Nature is fuel for the soul, Mom said. We’re separated from it by walls of concrete and steel, too busy for the wonders of life. This vacation will make up for that.

Now, here they are in Navodari Beach, an untouched plot of coastline off the beaten path. A stretch of Romanian seashore devoid of much human intervention, accessible via a narrow, partially unpaved road. One of the quietest places on earth, no doubt. Navodari is the campers’ beach, several hours north of a famous seaside resort, Mamaia, where four-star hotels line the boardwalk.

At Navodari, they don’t leave the campgrounds, and depend on what they brought along and the bare necessities available within the camp. There is daily walking on the beach, swimming, fishing. There is storytelling by the campfire. When not playing, or helping with chores, the kids read.

Camping all summer takes adjusting, but the sea has ways of calming the mind and working things out. The endless stretch of fine sand that sparkles under the sun adds to a sense of increased vitality. The very presence of the blue immensity of water under the sky helps ward off feelings of seclusion and boredom. Nature calms the mind. The sea becomes the story.

At night, with the help of her flashlight, the young girl reads about the sea as an intersection of culture, the dramatic role it played in world history, all the way back to the Great Flood. The Black Sea, a wonderful creation of nature still in the process of change.

Since the Black Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, and the Mediterranean, the young girl feels connected to the whole world. A comforting thought, this world-wide bond. It explains the human tendency to travel to the water’s edge, our obsession with water — listening to waves lap against the shore, swimming or fishing. It explains our love for writing, and creating memories along the water’s edge.

More kids arrive in Navodari with their parents and their tents. Some traveled from landlocked countries like Switzerland. They study each other in the manner kids from different countries do; realizing they’re not that different. Soon, the shyness melts away. The kids strike up tentative friendships.

The young girl teaches her new friends Romanian words, and learns how to say sea and wind — among other things — in their language. When all else fails, they alternate between improvised sign language and broken English.

What starts as sensory and stimulation withdrawal turns into a heightened awareness of the elements. They listen to sounds picked up by the wind from afar — broken sounds, but easily heard. They listen to the lapping of the waves, the sea whispering its own language or that of creatures inhabiting its depths. They listen to the seagulls chirp and flap their way down to the water. Sitting on the beach for hours, they try to decide if the whistling sounds come from dolphins or some other fish. They laugh so much.

Before falling asleep, the young girl tucks away memories in safe corners of her mind. One day in the future, they’ll flash before her eyes like wonderful, old movies.

~~~

Drifting back, I close my journal and lie awake in the still night, holding on to the mental images a little longer. Soon, the day’s toil prevails. My ears fill with the pulse of crickets and cicadas proclaiming their desires. Breath and the clouds ride the same wind. Sleep lulls me away, but not before I see a young girl, in a tent, on a far-away beach, listening to the waves of the sea as she falls asleep in her tent.

Photo credit: Unsplash, Sebastian Staines

I send out stories and interesting links from time to time. Tidbits about my publication journey. It’s free. No spam. You can unsubscribe whenever you want.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

When and How Did You Start Writing?

Fountain Pens, Fountain Pen, Filler, Ink

What’s the first thing you remember writing?

The first time I wrote on my own – not for a school assignment – was after an argument with my sister (over something trivial, I’m sure). My mother was working rotating shifts in a factory. She was a day sleeper, so we had to keep quiet in the house. Unable to have a proper argument, I pulled out a notebook and wrote down my anger. Just dumped it all on paper.

I was eleven or twelve, my sister two years older.

As you’d imagine, the process was therapeutic. I later learned that behind every piece of writing there are emotions and feelings, and putting them down helps. We all have little stories inside us and very few get told. Since I couldn’t argue away my story, I retreated to the intimacy of writing, an emotional exercise that calmed the mind.

Years later, my sister read what I wrote. By then the notebook had become a journal, full of stories and musings. To this day, she claims her role as the muse that set me on the road to writing.

I kept my journal for occasional thoughts until high school; but with time I wrote less. As all writers know, it’s not easy writing deeply personal thoughts – heart break, loss, the daily grind of feelings. There is a fine line between therapy and dwelling on the tedium of life. But fiction is different. Fictionalizing the truth fed a creative need, allowing ideas freedom. I suppose that’s what escapism is about.

“Once you’ve escaped, the world is not the same as when you left it. You come back to it with skills, weapons, knowledge you didn’t have before. Then you are better equipped to deal with your current reality.” Neil Gaiman

Or as Shirley Jackson as said:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”

I needed a form of fictionalized reality, which writing provided.

Eye, Iris, City, Skyscraper

Writing as Creative Outlet

Creative expression, in any form, starts early. I didn’t know the first thing about plotting out a storyline in those early days. It was just story dumping, no rhyme or reason, just internal expression. It was freeing, writing away unbothered.

The mechanics came later. Learning the craft brought organization, a better use of time and skill. More importantly, it brought the understanding that writing is not just about me. We need other writers and, of course, we need readers.

I’ve heard writing referred to as the lonesome of creative endeavors. It doesn’t have to be. By design, we need time alone in order to write. Whether in front of a computer, or staring out the window. Driving or lying poolside. We have ideas and look to put them into action. And for that we need peace. But we also need one another, a community of creatives, and those seeking to escape the tedium of daily grind – the readers.

We are stories, fictionalized or painfully factual. Stories waiting to be written and shared.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

photo credit: pixabay/adifferentperspective985, lars niessen