On Writing In Serein
by Silvia Hartmann
I have been writing How To books at a pace since I was 20 years old.
Instruction manuals, user guides, training manuals, support literature - dozens of full length books.
I’ve also written articles for national papers, magazines, then for the Internet in droves. I further write poetry for a hobby as well as song lyrics for myself and others. Yes, and then there’s all the hypnotic induction scripts and the fairy tales, too. You could say I’m a prolific and experienced writer. But it was not until around the summer of 2000 that I noticed for the first time ever that there was something missing in amongst all that lot of writing I was doing on a daily basis.
I had not written any fiction at all since I was 15.
If you think about that, it is really bizarre. Both the fact that I had never thought for a second to write a novel or a short story even, as well as the fact that I had never noticed that I didn’t.
Now I don’t want to bore you, good and patient reader, with the details of the underlying trauma that whacked the door shut so I was entirely unable to even think about writing fiction for those interceding 25 years but it turned up, and with it, the thought that I might like to try again.
To write a real story, with real interactive characters that was not designed to teach anything, that had no ulterior motives, no purpose at all beyond simply wanting to be told.
It took me a further 6 months from inception of the idea to get me to a point where I sat down in front of the computer and call up a blank Word document.
I sat staring at it as though I had never before put fingers to a keyboard, as though I had never written anything at all in my entire life.
I was full of fear and apprehension, of doubt, of not being good enough, of wasting my time with this which would never "get published" when I could guarantee good and immediate income and much public acclaim by just dashing off an entire How To on "The Advanced Patterns Of EFT In Theory & Practice" in a few weeks.
That and so much more.
All of it produced a blank white screen and someone sitting in front of it who couldn’t move at all.
I know a thing or two about unconscious resistance and so I asked, what do I have to do so I can write a story? I know I can. I am always telling stories, heck, I’m so far away from a scientific writer of technical manuals, it’s light-years. This is my natural domain! What do you (unconscious mind) want from me (conscious Silvia) to be allowed to proceed and make this happen?
The answer was something that eventually was written down right at the end of the completed book :
A scribe came sometime later, a nice young, very young man, pale he was, his hair unusual and nearly white and his fingers long and fine, stained with ink.
He was very reverend and not a little scared of me and I told him that it wasn’t so important that his spelling should be accurate nor his letters in perfection, but that he should try and keep up and take down my words as I would speak them, try and keep them as I would speak them even if they didn’t always make sense, and not to get in the way or try to guess what it was that I might have meant.
He was an earnest thing and he promised me with his hand on his heart that he would do his best.
That is exactly and with my hand on my heart what I promised my own unconscious mind that night in front of the blank document, a full 8 months before the words above were ever written.
That I should take down the words as my unconscious mind would speak them to me.
That I would not judge or second guess, that I would not censor or stop myself from saying what needed to be said, regardless of what readers might think; whether critics or proofreaders or editors or publishers may shudder and throw dead fish at me and the manuscript; and whether or not there would ever be any acclaim, any sales, any anything at all, ever.
When I had made the promise, I looked back at the blank white document. As I looked at it, my hands had already found the keys and started to type the first lines of what would become the trilogy In Serein in time and after 8 months of the most intensely creative experience I have ever known.
I did not write this book. Oh, physically, yes. I wrote it alright. I typed every single word of it.
But I didn’t write it.
I was the scribe.
Silvia Hartmann, May 2001
“It is the hardest thing of all, the one thing that will show if you have the one true courage. To know that you have failed, that your best efforts have been defeated, to not be able to stand it, to not be able to go on and yet to go on nonetheless.” Lord Lucian Tremain