I‘m at Malice Domestic this weekend and so have begged one of our favorite Murderati regulars, Billie Hinton, to guest, today. Billie is a Jungian therapist and is constantly amazing us here with her meta-comments. I’m finding today’s topic particularly relevant as I mingle with so many dedicated readers here at Malice. I’ll try to blog a little about it later in the day.
– Meanshile, enjoy! – Alex
ALCHEMY ON THE FIRST PAGE
In Carl Gustav Jung’s field of work model, the therapist and client interact on a conscious level – what is said and done in the room. But they also interact on an unconscious level, and Jung felt that when the therapist and the client both drop into this deeper level of work, there is opportunity for transformation.
He suggests that if the therapist holds her own conscious/unconscious material as well as the client’s, this “alehemical container” creates the space where transformation happens.
I commented recently here that I’m a reader “willing to be amazed.” I’m also a writer who wants to amaze. As an adjunct to both those things, I’m slightly obsessed by the writing process and recently seized on Jung’s field of work model as I venture/stumble into the bowels of a second novel ms that needs revision. The goal: to try and make sense of what exactly I need to do with this book. Actually, it’s more than that. I want to perform alchemy.
I suspect something akin to Jung’s “alchemical container” happens when a masterful author writes a book that resonates with a huge number of readers, mixing insight and character, story and plot in a way that creates the space for readers to open the book and immediately sink deep – into action and narrative and dialogue and motivation. And when it works well, magic and transformation.
A tall order!
I think I’ve mastered creating some magic in my books – but I’m still struggling with how to get that alchemical container in place on page one and sustain it for the rest of the novel.
I suspect in my case, I have to wrench myself out of therapist mode and move fully into the role of writer as alchemist – not writer protecting readers or characters or anybody else. Not walking the reader in slowly, but inviting the bold jump into deep waters.
As a writer, how do you go deep on that very first page and create the alchemy that carries through to transformation?
And as a reader, what works for you? What alchemy happens on the first page of the book you aren’t willing to put down?