Tag Archives: direction

Thoughtful Thursday – #244 – Stream of Consciousness Writing

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I usually write with stream of consciousness because it’s easy and therapeutic. Here’s an article about several writers who use this method very effectively. From Quiklit.com.

10 WRITERS WHO USE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS BETTER THAN ANYBODY ELSE

By May Huang

A narrative technique that has perplexed and fascinated readers for centuries, the stream of consciousness technique has been used by many writers to trace the seamless (and oft erratic) musings of characters such as Mrs. Dalloway and Stephen Dedalus. Below are 10 writers whose works – ranked amongst the finest in English literature – feature the stream of consciousness technique.

Okay, but what is Stream of Consciousness?

Stream of Consciousness is a type of writing that originated with the works of psychologist William James (Brother of Novelist Emeritus Henry James). Basically, its purpose is to emulate the passage of thought through your mind without any inhibitors. For that reason, sentences become longer, less organized and more sporadic in style. Its lack of structure is not for everybody, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any order. Stream of consciousness permits deeper patterns of order to emerge, ones based on the genuine movement of information in your brain. It also permits writers to simulate different forms of consciousness, such as dreams, comas, drug use and hallucinatory seances.

  1. Dorothy Richardson

Considered the pioneer of the stream-of-consciousness technique, 20th century British author Dorothy Richardson was the first author to publish a full length stream-of-consciousness novel: Pointed Roofs. In fact, it was in reviewing Pointed Roofs that British author May Sinclaire first coined the term ‘stream-of-consciousness’ in April 1918.

On one side was the little grey river, on the other long wet grass repelling and depressing. Not far ahead was the roadway which led, she supposed to the farm where they were to drink new milk. She would have to walk with someone when they came to the road, and talk. She wondered whether this early morning walk would come, now, every day. Her heart sank at the thought.” from Pointed Roofs

  1. William Faulkner

Recipient of both the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, American author William Faulkner used the stream of consciousness technique to great effect in The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, exploring the depths of different characters’ inner conflict through disjointed, unpunctuated narrative. In one short paragraph, the reader is at once exposed to different smells, sounds and movement:

“Nonsense you look like a girl you are lots younger than Candace color in your cheeks like a girl A face reproachful tearful an odor of camphor and of tears a voice weeping steadily and softly beyond the twilit door the twilight-colored smell of honey suckle. Bringing empty trunks down the attic stairs they sounded like coffins […]” – from As I Lay Dying

  1. James Joyce

Dublin born writer James Joyce employed the stream-of-consciousness style in all of his novels, including Finnegans WakeA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and – of course – the 1000-page, 265,000-word long Ulysses. It is easy to get lost in any paragraph in the novel, as the protagonist Stephen Dedalus guides us quickly – and disjointedly – through his thoughts and surroundings. One moment he is asking himself, “Would you go back to then?” and the next he is on Grafton street, pondering whether to buy a pincushion while the “jingle of harnesses” sounds in his ears. Then, out of the blue, he answers himself and concludes that it would be “useless to go back.” Next thing you know, he’s moved on to Duke Street and we’re not quite sure how he – or we – got there.

  1. Virginia Woolf

 

Recognized as the most important feminist writer (and perhaps one of the most important writers in general) of all time, Virginia Woolf used the stream-of-consciousness technique to great significance in her work. Paying scrupulous attention to detail and describing even “the footman’s hand,” “parcels and umbrellas.” Woolf takes readers through different minds, perspectives and surroundings in Mrs. Dalloway. She makes us wonder who is speaking – and about what.

  1. Marcel Proust

French writer Marcel Proust also used the stream-of-consciousness style in his works, notably in the seven-volume long Remembrance of Things Past, in which even the simple childhood memory of eating a petite madeleine plunges one into the “vast structure of recollection.” Reading Proust, one is caught up in the taste and smell of the pastry, “the water-lilies on the Vivonne” and “Sunday mornings at Combray” – all of which are memories that converge in the narrator’s stream of consciousness.

  1. Jack Kerouac

American writer Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is now remembered as one of the defining novels of the Beat Generation – as well as a modern example of stream-of-consciousness writing. Originally written over a course of 3 weeks on one scroll of paper (deemed the ‘original scroll’),On the Road is based on Kerouac’s road trip across America, a journey at times vividly recounted in continuous stream-of-consciousness prose, fusing both description of land and memory:

The brown hills led off towards Nevada; to the South was my legendary Hollywood; to the North the mysterious Shasta country. Down below was everything: the barracks where we stole our tiny box of condiments, where Dostioffski’s tiny face had glared at us […]” from On the Road

  1. José Saramago

Portuguese Nobel Prize Laureate Jose Saramago, like Woolf, also liked to alternative between narratives and use stream-of-consciousness in his writing. In Blindness, Saramago uses long sentences and eschews quotation marks to enhance the seamlessness of his prose, allowing the stream-of-consciousness to run free of interruption:

The very air in the ward seemed to have become heavier, emitting strong lingering odours, with sudden wafts that were simply nauseating, What will this place be like within a week, he asked himself, and it horrified him to think that in a week’s time, they would still be confined here, Assuming there won’t be any problems with food supplies, and who can be sure there isn’t already a shortage, I doubt, for example, whether those outside have any idea from one minute to the next…” – from Blindness

  1. Samuel Backett

The second French writer on this list, Samuel Beckett used the stream of consciousness technique in his Three Novels (Molloy, Malone Dies and the Unnamable) to deliver a stream of observations and musings on time and existence. In fact, Molloy defies conventional grammar and tense rules in order to emphasize the continuity of the narrator’s non-stop train of thought:

What shall I do? What shall I do? now low, a murmur, now precise as the headwaiter’s And to follow? and often rising to a scream. And in the end, or almost, to be abroad alone, by unknown ways, in the gathering night, with a stick.” – from Molloy

  1. Fyodor Dostoevsky

Although Crime and Punishment is Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s best-known work, his 1864 novella Notes from Underground also sits amongst the classics of Russian literature. Throughout the novel, the ‘Underground Man’ expresses his continuous train of thought through long, comma-filled sentences (even in brackets).

If you take, for instance, the antithesis of the normal man, that is, the man of acute consciousness, who has come, of course, not out of the lap of nature but out of a retort (this is almost mysticism, gentlemen, but I suspect this, too), this retort-made man is sometimes so nonplussed in the presence of his antithesis that with all his exaggerated consciousness he genuinely thinks of himself as a mouse and not a man. It may be an acutely conscious mouse, yet it is a mouse, while the other is a man, and therefore, et caetera, et caetera.” – from Notes from Underground

  1. Toni Morrison

83 year old African American author Toni Morrison published several books on slavery, the most compelling of which is undoubtedly Beloved. The story of a ‘ghost baby’ who returns to her family in the form of a grown woman, Beloved is both a harrowing tale about the horrors of slavery as it is a testament to the unrelenting power of memory. Morrison uses stream of consciousness in one of the final chapters to reveal the intermingling of three characters’ thoughts:

Beloved

You are my sister

You are my daughter

You are my face; you are me

I have found you again; you have come back to me

You are my Beloved

You are mine

You are mine

You are mine

I have your milk

I have your smile

I will take care of you

You are my face; I am you. Why did you leave me

who am you?” – from Beloved

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday #221 – Flashbacks

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I have had two strong flashbacks that has kicked my complex trauma response into high gear. That’s the thing with C-PTSD flashbacks, it places me in two worlds. The world of the past and the present.

Flashbacks are important in trauma recovery but not at all easy to process. Flashbacks are a necessary part of healing. You can’t heal if you don’t feel.

At this time there is a part of me that feels it’s safe enough to allow a repressed memory to surface. I am thankful for that. Doing this kind of work and the willingness to feel the feelings of the past uncovers underlying traumatic emotions.

Once the repressed feelings come to the surface it is easier to make positive change, stay in the present moment and get happy again.

Thoughtful Thursday – #220 – Finding The Truth

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When I was sixteen years old it occurred to me that something was terribly wrong with my family interactions. This was the beginning of my long journey, or should I say my lifelong journey of finding the truth. This journey has been very hard at times but the more truth that was uncovered the healthier and happier I became.

Finding the truth unveiled lots of information that helped me understand the dysfunctional dynamics that were going on and where I was placed within that strange puzzle.

I am still unraveling the trauma all these years later. And I am not at all disturbed by this. As hard as it is to know the sick truths of the horrible treatment I incurred, I will never stop looking for the truth.

On the bright side, the more I know about me the more I know about others. The side effect of finding the truth of human behavior is the ability to know others and that is priceless.

Thoughtful Thursday #214 – Abandonment Continued

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Susan Anderson’s book The Journey from Abandonment to Healing is a wealth of information about the devastating effects of abandonment and that real miraculous recovery that is possible.

I am paraphrasing the five stages of abandonment.

  1. Shattering-devastating pain and hitting bottom.
  2. Withdrawal-the intense craving for the love you had.
  3. Internalizing-beating up on your self esteem.
  4. Rage-fighting back by expressing your rage and anger.
  5. Lifting-your life gets back on track.

These are not linear steps but as the author states they are stages that are circular, like a cyclone. We go through each stage at one time or together. It may take days, weeks, months or years to resolve but worth the effort.

Abandonment is one of the worst betrayals a person can experience. Recovery is more than possible, with some self care and self compassion you will come out on the other side changed, wiser and more resilient.

Read Susan Anderson’s book and be amazed at how recover from abandonment is possible.

Abandonment

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Here’s a list of what abandonment is from Susan Anderson’s book “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing” Pages 5 and 6. Susan Anderson has a blog with tons of information on the serious subject of “Abandonment”.

What is abandonment?

A feeling

A feeling of isolation within a relationship

An intense feeling of devastation when a relationship ends.

A primal fear – the raw element that makes going through heartbreak, divorce, separation or bereavement cut so deep

An aloneness not by choice

An experience from childhood

A baby left on a doorstep

A divorce

A woman left by her husband of twenty years for another woman

A man being left by his fiancée for some “more successful”

A mother leaving her children

A father leaving his children

A friend feeling deserted by a friend

A child whose pet dies

A little girl grieving over the death of her mother

A little boy wanting his mommy to come pick him up from nursery school

A child who feels replaced by the birth of another sibling

A child feeling restless because of his parents emotional unavailability

A boy realizing that he is gay and anticipating the reaction of his parents

A teenager feeling that her heart is actually broken

A teenage boy afraid to approach the girl he loves

A woman who has raised now grown children feeling empty as if she has been deserted

A child stricken with a serious illness watching his friends play while he must use a wheelchair or remain in bed

A woman who has lost her job and with it her professional identity, financial security and status

A man who has been put out to pasture by his company as if he is obsolete

A dying woman who fears being abandoned by loved one as much as or more that she fears pain and death

Abandonment is all of this and more. It’s wound is at the heart of human experience.

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You could add to the list but I think you get the message, the important thing here is to name what the feeling is.

Abandonment is so very painful, it is a feeling we have all experienced at one time or another. There is a PTSD component to abandonment which leaves it victims with shame, low self-esteem, and fear just to name a few of abandonment influences.

There is hope for survival and recovery, it will not be easy, you will have to do the important work of reaching deep within yourself and uncover the pain that is just below the surface of your awareness. Most of the time this work is not done alone. Counseling, or writing or exercising, read books on the subject, mindfulness and finding some way of getting to  the trauma that abandonment left behind.

You have to help yourself just enough to lift you. You are worth the effort. Don’t give up.

Thoughtful Thursday #207 – Separation

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Many of us have grown up in either mildly dysfunctional or maddeningly dysfunctional family systems. We could have lived through addictions, violence, mental illness, instability, abandonment and the result was trauma. At some point we have to stop seeking validation from those in our family system who can’t even  validate themselves.

It’s time to separate. It’s time to let go of believing that they will change. It’s more probable that toxic people will always let you down and you deserve so much more. It’s time to miss events with those who are emotionally unavailable and toxic. When we separate we can acknowledge our pain and the depth of our family’s broken and unfit system. When we recognise our pain the healing begins.

When the healing begins you will regain your health, sanity, dignity and wholeness with this important and critical self-care. Will it be easy, nope. But so worth the effort.

It’s time to find out who you are in your own wholeness, separate from the trauma, drama and maladaptive idea of who you are.  It’s time for you to go back to the  unbroken and undamaged person you are meant to be, in one piece, peaceful and confident.

You are worth it.

Thoughtful Thursday #202 – Cognitive Bias

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One of my FB friends gave me this idea. I am passing it along to you. Hope it helps.

It’s a detailed article about cognitive bias that we all carry at one time or another.

 

180+ cognitive biases, designed by John Manoogian III (jm3)

The better you know yourself the better your life experience.

Thoughtful Thursday #200 – Love Yourself First

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Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and many share their love and enthusiasm for our families, lovers, friends.

Let’s not forget to give a big Valentines to ourselves. After all we are very important too. Here’s some helpful ways to love yourself.

  1. Stop calling yourself names. eg. I am such a jerk.
  2. Stop thinking about the worst case scenario. eg. The world will end if I say the wrong thing.
  3. Identify negative beliefs you have about yourself and get rid of them. eg. I am a really bad cook.
  4. Rewrite and reframe your internal dialog. eg. I am a good dancer.
  5. Celebrate yourself. It’s OK to give yourself a reward.
  6. Visit a therapist. Self examination is healing.
  7. Support yourself with positive self talk.

Every day is a chance to take good care of yourself and be your own Valentine.

“Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.”
― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

 

Thoughtful Thursdays #195 – Blizzard of Thoughts

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Snow blizzards can be a lot of fun.

Blizzard Ice Cream from Dairy Queen is fun.

But a blizzard of whirling uncontrollable thoughts is not fun.

It’s frustrating and scary. To stop those windy wizard of flurry, pirouetting, gyrating confusing thoughts, here are a few grounding suggestions.

  1. Count your breath slowly.
  2. Listen to Music.
  3. Do some art.
  4. Redirect your thoughts momentarily.
  5. Write it out uncensored.
  6. Meditate.
  7. Watch your thoughts and let them go.

That should keep you busy for a while and help slow the blizzard of thoughts to a balmy breeze.

Carry on.

Thoughtful Thursday #187 – Pain and Shame

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Pain and shame are the hardest feelings to sit with. We will do anything not to feel them.

When we are willing to go to these frightening places something wonderful happens. We have the chance to witness past and present events and their impact with a new, clearer sight. Which illuminates  our thinking about close relationships in the present.

You may even become determined in changing those relationships and becoming free to choose healthier alternatives.

All it takes is a little bit of curiosity and courage to look at those scary emotional places and a baby step toward a new direction.