Writing, Editing and Jungian Self-Analysis

Writing in one form or another has always been a staple in my life. Whether it be writing essays, articles, short stories, novels and even poetry, there’s always been that itch to satisfy that writing impulse. Editing on the other hand is an entirely different story. Editing is by far a strenuous and time-consuming process. Editing one’s work is about looking at your own work with a critical eye and accepting that it isn’t perfect. If you can do that, as well as have at least a good grasp of grammar, there’s no reason why you can’t edit your own work. Will mistakes creep in? Of course. It’s almost guaranteed. Some errors are almost invisible to the critical eye even when fine-combing through each sentence.

Editing, in away reminds me of Jungian self-analysis where individuation or “wholeness” of the authentic Self is cultivated through an inward journey to the psyche and self-discovery by inner knowledge or gnosis. The written story is by extension, part of the creative, imaginal side of the Self. The characters and settings within the story are likewise can be represented through various archetypes as different aspects of the author. The truly “brilliant” refined creation by the way of editing is manifested from intense analysis and critique. Some “errors” within each person’s psyche is likewise invisible to the naked eye which often requires another set of more objective eyes (an outside editor) for the person’s awareness of them. All writing in a way comes from the collective consciousness or the imaginal realm, built of cultural, historical and universal elements, through filtered consciousness and perhaps distorted by the individual.

In self-analysis, we stop looking outward and focus inward. In this process, we begin to strip away the compressed layers of “falsehood” that we have mistake as “reality” or been duped in being content with ignorance, or how we should be, and begin to think for ourselves, as we are, with all the variables in play. This shouldn’t be confused with narcissism where the immature ego uses others outside to inflate its sense of self. It is a much more self-reflective, inner journey and process at the deepest levels of the self where a realization is inevitably gained that the numinous self or the “pneumatic element” was there all along, guiding my mundane, day-to-day self and subsequent worries and goals. It is not in essence gained from an external source or technique. The journey is a non-fragmented passage where functionality at all levels is gained – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is the way in order to find our true identity and thus embrace the person we are. The wonderful thing about this form of psychoanalysis and even any other form of religiosity is that one or at least I can internalize those truths according to my wants.

When it comes to actually writing and fleshing out stories or articles, I don’t think I have a true writing method. I pretty much write when I feel like my characters are speaking to me and when there is a story in my head insisting on being told. I prefer quiet when I write; it allows me to hear what is going on in my head. That said, ambient or atmospheric music also helps me get in the “zone”. This also applies to when I am in the editing process and fine-tuning joyfully, alchemically transforming order out of chaos that are my novels. I used to drink while writing but find my work is much better when writing sober. There was a time where I subscribed to those wise words of Ernest Hemingway: “Write drunk, edit sober.” I don’t upchuck a heap full of emotions represented by characters onto Microsoft Word anymore. Sober suites the cerebral for me and my emotions are more in check.

Writing is essence the analysis and interpretation of reality and the transformation of that interpretation into fictional truth. As long as it speaks on a human level of truth, it has done its job. It doesn’t matter if it has never even taken place. Yet, I think this process takes a certain toll on the human mind. Sometimes I think the writer of the Gospel of John was completely strung out when he wrote it. Not that there wasn’t any truth what he wrote—far from it: more that it was universal truths in what he wrote. We’re human beings; we live our lives in delusion in one form or another, whether we like or not. Breaking through that delusion is extremely psychologically painful. Likewise, when looking at your work more objectively, it becomes painful to see what was once great writing has now become a mess of adjectives, nouns and verbs that needs to be re-edited and reorganized into something more cohesive and accessible. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, there’s no substitute for the motivational practice of writing (and getting the basics down pat) that much I know.

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