Poetic inspiration: just let go..

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This is a quick reminder that you can any event treat as an opportunity for expanding your awareness. As a writer, every detail of your life you can turn into a most beautiful story, novel or a poem. And from there new worlds emerge. That’s how powerful is writing.


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Poetry as an act of prayer, ritual and belief: the case of Slavic Mythology

Nordic, Greek and Roman mythologies are very well known and explored in literature – through science fiction and poetry writing, from anthropological, religious and ethnological point of view. Old Slavic mythology is lesser known and popular, yet very rich in folktales, rituals, mythological creatures. It was a part of the belief system that Old Slavs treasured and celebrated: a multi-theist system of Gods, spirits and “lower beings” that influenced each part of their lives. To old Slavs their Gods are the founts of life, power and happiness. Gods, worshiped for millennia gave the meaning to existence, and protective notion to old Slavs. They were celebrated through rituals and songs – similar to many indigenous traditions.

In some remote Balkan regions, these rituals and songs are still present. Probably due to the reason that when old Slavs adopted Christianity, many of the old, Pagan customs found their place in the new belief system, just disguised under another name and purpose. My father, for example used to tell me about the songs and customs that were performed in his village during spring and summer – because peasants believed that it will influence the yield of the harvest and that it will help them to ‘cheer up’ the will of the Gods (like God Perun, that governed thunders and fire). In order to invoke the rain villagers would perform ritual: a girl, called do-do-la wearing a skirt made of fresh green knitted vines and small branches, sings and dances through the streets of the village, stopping at every house, where the hosts sprinkle water on her.

Following and celebrating religious holidays actually still impacts agricultural activities in many Balkan regions.

This poem I wrote below “Raingirl” was inspired by the ‘dodola’ ritual:

The face of the Earth is crunched,

wrinkled in furrows

burrows, like mouths are widely open

towards the sky with prayer for dull clouds.

Bodies of trees are broken and bowed.

Meadows bald,

leafs curled in sears, in the color of hell.

Some of animals can be seen

soulless, crouching on their celebrity red carpets

dreaming of rain.

It’s time for a Raingirl.

You will recognize her as a young maid,

dressed in rugs, with wreath around her head

adorned with wheat, flowers and grass.

Barefoot she would walk across the village,

her long hair trotting after her. She dances

and sings dow-down-la, dow-down-la while

milking her heavenly cows.

An orphan, as such adored among hearths.

Sometimes she would fly over woods and fields,

to awaken blossoms and green parchments,

as messaged by the God of Thunder.

As first drops appear, tree hands, grass blades, uprooted sinews

unroll their palms, tongues,

tired of summer soberness

in hope to imbibe a little bit of milk.

Raingirl smiles and as she suddenly appeared

in same fashion she evanesces in the mist

with her downy flock.

When we will see a raingirl again?

Once the Sun becomes this angry, heavy. In pain.

Our ancestors, not only in Slavic traditions believed that songs and poems do have a tremendous power to help us sustain even the most difficult times – that type of strength we still can nourish inside ourselves.

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3 tips to nail your book presentation

Nicholas-Boothman

When you write a book actually it’s not even the half work done. The most difficult part is yet to come and that is marketing ans selling your book. In this chain of activities, beside writing an amazing book and author bio – there are still significant things you can do to increase the selling prospects of your book: writing a captivating book presentation (synopsis) and giving a splendid pitch!

It can be a very difficult and daunting task since there’s so many things you want to include and you think that everything is equally important.

Now, there are probably some technical rules that you would need to follow, like number of words and paragraphs, (editors and agents will probably have their own requirements when it comes to how long they expect synopses to be) but my writing books so far, taught me that the essence of  book presentation should incorporate three approaches that I’m going to share with you now. It can be applied both to oral presentation and the written synopsis of the book.

It doesn’t matter if you are a fiction or non-fiction writer: many inexperienced authors make a beginners mistake and that is:

  1. Not everything is about them as writers – on the contrary!

Instead of forcing an attitude “me, me, me” and how good your book is, your focus should be on your audience – your potential readers, publisher, book sellers. In your presentation you need people who are listening and reading your stuff to put in the center of the action and make them feel that the presentation and the book in question is addressing them personally.

2. Become a mentor

Put yourself in your reader’s chair: what kind of experience does your book transcends? What your readers can learn? If your goal is to entertain them, what are the attractive points of the book you can emphasize?

Your book presentation shouldn’t be just a short version of already written story/text: make your audience a hero, take them on journey, give them new insights – make them WANT that book. And here, you are only their guide and mentor that navigates them through these new exciting adventures. As a writer, and mentor you’ve already traveled this journey and think of your presentation as a way to pass on the skills and knowledge you acquired.

3. Chose humility as your biggest asset

When you don’t try to steal all the spotlight, your point of view change. You’ll become more humble in understanding and communicating with your audience. While carefully crafting your book presentation, think of the benefits that your audience will get by reading your book; share your knowledge and wisdom in such way that is inviting, attractive and hard to say no to: your story needs to instill confidence, empathy, training, advice, tools or just fun – what ever is the value your book is providing.

I know this is a quite different approach to writing a book presentation/synopsis, yet in my experience it turned out to be very beneficial.

Once you try to think as your potential reader and in your presentation you accentuate what your reader should ‘take from a book’ – everything becomes much easier and clearer.

Harnessing the power of mythology: 3 ways to enrich your storytelling

mythology

Myths are stories; stories narrated for a thousands of years, having life of their own in our minds and subconsciousness. They are reflection of our belief system, an eternal fight between evil and good, a struggle for achieving beyond perceived, understood and obvious. Mythology can relate to many religious rituals as well, where in the form of songs, poems and stories was used as a vehicle to explain to younger generations how people acquired speech, fire, grain, wine, oil, honey, agriculture, metalwork, and other skills and arts.

In mythology everything is possible: existence of Gods, Goddesses, beings with supernatural powers and humans taking traits that makes them larger than life and heroes in our minds. For example, Parson Weems created a myth about George Washington in the story of the cherry tree, describing an event that never took place, but used to illustrate the moral behavior of a young George.

parson-weemss-fable-amon-carter-museum-of-american-2

Parson Weem’s Fable (Amon Carter Museum of American Art)

Many crafts, like astrology use the power of mythological creatures and language of symbolism to emphasize the archetypes of human nature, where even the heavenly bodies take on the roles of Gods, and as they “dance” in the sky they “plot” the scenes of our life events.

Mythology was a communicating medium among indigenous people, as it can be found in ancient texts and it is foundation  upon which modern culture has been built.

But this is not where the power of mythology stops. It’s well established in the modern western cultures as classical scholar and professor Elizabeth Vandiver claims: Star Wars, Star Trek and other similar stories are myths as authentic as those found in Hesiod, Homer, and Ovid. They have the elements of classical mythological tales and are so engraved within our culture, that metaphors and psychological profiles defined, we often use in our everyday life as a reference.

And look at poetry:

Leda and the Swan by W. B. Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

 

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

 

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Yeats’s poem was inspired by a Greek myth about Zeus and Leda, the daughter of a king named Thestius. Zeus disguised as a swan seduces Leda and takes advantage of her. In the poem this event Yeats in every, tiny detail described very powerfully. And as we know how the myth continues, Leda gets pregnant and gives birth to Helen of Troy.

Many men were enchanted by the Helen’s beauty and she becomes abducted  by a young man named Paris that led to the Battle of Troy, the centerpiece of Homer’s Iliad. Yeats’s poem hides between the verses a drama that takes place in the tragic fall of Troy; it illustrates familiarity that Yeats had with artistic story of Leda and the swan, retold  by sculptors and painters like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci.

This poem was written in the same year Yeats was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1923. Here, he poses the question of predominant misuse of power and how an apocalyptic consequence that might have, beyond the possibility of what our mind can conceive.

So, in a nutshell, mythological approach to storytelling can help us:

  • convey the message on diversity, especially looked from the perspectives of cultural backgrounds;
  • argument the importance of ethical approach in business and other types of relationships;
  • make story more “alive”, entertaining as people like myths: it captivates their attention and ignites imagination, lifting their experience to the level of adventure and pleasant uncertainty.

Let your story become a myth.

4 qualities of thought leaders and how to become one

thoughtleadership

We all want to become more influential, persuasive in what we do. It’s of vital importance, being you a writer, small business owner or just an employee in the company. Getting our message across, being understood and perceived in the right way is how new, creative bonds are built in relationships – especially the business ones.

What being a thought leader is about anyway? Many people relate that term only to marketing and ways how to monetize “masterpiece” thinking, which opens the door to the new markets and new sources of income. That is the end-result of good directed and implemented thought leadership, but before that in order to become more influential you need to offer a sort of purposeful contribution that your audience and clients can actually benefit from. It’s a well developed internal strategy, wrapped in the perceptive cultural approach.

There are 4 qualities that are a common denominator among successful thought leaders:

1.They bring innovative thinking.

Especially entrepreneurs and people “zooming outside of the box” – they question everything and don’t take anything for granted. Sure, sometimes they don’t succeed at once –still, they move, shake, disrupt, and build paths through unexplored industrial jungles.

2.They are the brand.

Sharp and focused branding behind their persona is another ingredient in their leadership recipe. They are not afraid to begin, all over again – from zero, building something worthwhile, aligned with their personal values.

3.They are strategic thinkers and engaging storytellers.

Not only that they have well structured strategy around their message, they know how to convey it in a form of engaging and moving stories – stories that relate to our human side, experience and position in the world, which lead us to the final trait:

4.Thought leaders are empathetic.

Often, thought leaders draw their own life energy from struggles and suffering they went through themselves, which give them the opportunity to better understand the social needs. There, they see the chance to disperse their message and they are heartfelt, generous with their time, talents, money. Think of Richard Branson or Deepak Chopra for example.

In some of my previous posts I extensively wrote about the benefits of poetry in developing leadership qualities. It is that magic bond that allows of incomprehensible to be understood, unsaid to be heard, complex to be simplified to the tiniest pieces.

We are all thought leaders, once we decide to be.

It is not the Critic That Counts by Theodore Roosevelt

It’s not the critic who counts,

not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled,

or when the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;

whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;

who errs and comes short again and again;

who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement;

and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid

souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

 

 

 

 

A simple thing you can do to make your storytelling more engaging

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No matter are you a writer, a business owner or you just want to improve your presentation skills, effective storytelling is like having an ace in your sleeve that you can pull out just in time when you have to make your point or become more persuasive. In my previous posts about storytelling I discussed the power of narrative and today I shell go more deeply into how to harness that power to keep your audience active, engaged and responsive. Now, structuring your story, speech or even website content can be hard with distractions coming all over the place. In order to pass your ideas across and stuck to the memory of your audience you have to use all tricks and tools available to you. And avoid little mistakes along the way.

Here is what I mean:

Don’t begin with unattractive facts and figures (unless you are dealing with science and research, but even that kind of story we can make more compelling).

Frankly speaking, nobody cares about that! Stats are boring. We are addicted to stories, actions, emotions, adventures. Humans like a hero that’s on a journey, capable of mastering endless obstacles in order to fulfill his duty and purpose. So give your audience a hero, a story with purpose that delivers message, leaving them motivated and inspired.

One simple thing you can implement in your story telling is to incorporate the technique of a mythological narrative.

It’s a story structure that is found in many folk tales, myths, poems and religious texts from around the world.

In a mono-myth, the narrative goes like this: something happens that provokes our hero to leave his home; hero has (usually) a difficult journey ahead, where the destination and conditions are uncertain; after completing a series of challenges, hero returns with some kind of a reward, wisdom – some kind of benefit that he brings to his community.Think of Gilgamesh or Iliad. These were very long, epic and spoken word poems, that portrait the journey of a hero, all of his struggles, tragedies, misfortunes or little victories.

This is an excellent strategy when you want to accentuate the information you have and how that can benefit your audience. It also shows the pros and cons of taking risks and how we grow while learning something new.

In this article you will find three beautiful examples of using storytelling for small business purpose. The one I would like to share is about company Stio that introduced the outdoor apparel brand with a blog called The Town Hill Chronicles. The blog, by a team of professional writers, profiled people living in mountain communities across the U.S. In doing so, it helped Stio tell its brand story, how ordinary people experience outdoor life and activities (making them heroes of their brand), which eventually turned an audience into real a community that promotes and shares value of living in accordance with nature.

For the end I will leave with some thoughts by John M. Ford:

Against Entropy

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.