Why Do I Write What I Write?


Recently, author and blogger, Fran Kramer, invited me to join her in a blog tour that highlights authors who write about intuitive understanding. I encourage you to visit her blog at http://www.frankramer.wordpress.com where she offers some excellent practical information on how to work with your dreams and acquire greater understanding of yourself and guidance for your life.  Fran also writes teen mystery novels that highlight  intuitive and informed dreamwork skills instead of traditional detective practices. Her latest is titled Dead Men Do Tell Tales.
For this blog tour I was asked to answer four questions about my writing.  To learn more about me and my work, visit my web site at http://www.jeanraffa.com and my blog at http://www.jeanraffa.wordpress.com.
1) What Am I Working On?
At the moment I find myself in a transitional space between life stages.  The 24 years prior to last summer were the most productive, creative and fulfilling of my life.  I wrote three books about the inner life, taught classes, led workshops,  made presentations, conducted dreamwork on myself and private clients,  and, until last June, wrote an average of two blog posts a week for over three years.  Then my inner environment underwent a mysterious change.
It was very subtle, like a wind carrying unusual scents, or a curve in the river that leaves the rushing rapids behind as it empties into a tranquil blue sea. Suddenly there were fewer mountains to climb and more depths to explore.  I had experienced two life-changing transitions before, and realized in retrospect that they were normal and healthy aspects of life, so while this new development was initially a bit unsettling, I paid attention and went where my energy wanted to go.
It was the right thing to do. The past year has been one of significant growth. Best of all, I seem, at last, to be learning how to love!  So what am I working on? Loving and living.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not really sure what my genre is.  Psychology, certainly.  Spirituality, yes.  Also some Philosophy. And of course Mythology. And Women’s Studies.  And Gender issues. And it’s a Memoir.  And there’s some Religion.  And Self-Help…..
For many years my first book, a psychologically oriented memoir titled The Bridge to Wholeness, (which is now an e-book), was used in college courses.  Yet people tell me it’s extremely readable and nothing like a textbook.  The same is true of Dream Theatres of the Soul, (also in e-book form now) which has been used at the college level as well as in private dream groups.  And Healing the Sacred Divide received the 2013 Wilbur Award which is given by the Religion Communicators Council for excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and for encouraging understanding among faith groups on a national level.  So I suppose my answer is that my work is different because it is not limited to any one genre.
3) How does my writing process work?
Self-Discovery is my passion and writing about it is pure joy. I’ve never had to force myself to write.  I wake up every morning wanting to get to my computer as soon as I can.  Writing my books has been the most fun thing I’ve ever done! The details of how each book was conceived and written are different, but the pleasure is always the same.
In 1990 I thought I might have a book in me so I quit college teaching and started with my earliest memory of being lost on the shore of Lake Michigan. Given my interest in Jungian psychology and my introverted, intuitive, and highly reflective personality, it was only natural that my focus was on how that experience had influenced my personality and my life. I had no plan, no outline, no aim other than to get it all down until I felt finished.
And so I wrote 4 or 5 days a week for about nine months until I had completed several “essays.”  Then one morning I started making up a fairy tale while sitting at my makeup mirror. I quickly wrote it down and realized it provided the framework for everything I had written until then and would write from then on.  About a year and a half after I began writing, my essays became chapters in The Bridge to Wholeness, which was published in 1992.  It opens with the fairy tale, “The Lily and the Rose.”
Dream Theatres of the Soul was conceived soon after Bridge was finished with an idea about how dreams can be organized into five categories, each an element of the psyche. I wrote an outline and finished this book in three and a half months.  It was every bit as much fun to write as Bridge.
Healing the Sacred Divide was difficult.  I began it with the intention of trying to clarify what the feminine side of God is like, and from there it went through several themes and titles before it was finally published in 2012, 19 years after it was begun.  During all that time I had no assurance that it would ever be published, but I loved every minute of it, even when I had no idea what it was supposed to be about. Which was most of the time.
4)  Why do I write what I do?
I write about self-discovery because I have to.  It’s my calling.  And frankly, it’s the only thing I’m good for. If we humans created religions to remind ourselves that we are loved and known and guided by a benevolent, magnificent, mysterious Other;  if  religions are meant to bring joy and comfort and purpose and meaning to human life;  if they are supposed to teach us humility and gratitude and compassion and understanding for ourselves and our fellow humans; if they are meant to teach us how to love… then I can honestly say that the inner work I have conducted to discover who I am, along with writing my books to help others do the same, has been a religious experience. In the truest sense of the word.
Thank you so much for reading this.  And now I’m delighted to introduce the authors and bloggers who will continue the blog tour next week with posts about their own fascinating work.  If you don’t already know them, you’ll want to check them out. You won’t be disappointed.
Tzivia Gover
090114_kripalu_tziaviagover_022Tzivia Gover is a certified dream therapist, author, and educator. Her books include Learning in Mrs. Towne’s House: A Teacher, Her Students, and the Woman Who Inspired Them (Levellers Press), Mindful Moments for Stressful Days (Storey Books), and Dream House, a poetry chapbook. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous publications including Poets & Writers Magazine, The New York Times,  and The Boston Globe. To learn more visit http://www.tziviagover.com or http://www.thirdhousemoon.com.
Elaine Mansfield
Elaine Mansfield’s writing reflects over forty years as a student of philosophy, Jungian psychology, mythology, and meditation. She is a longtime student of Marion Woodman, the Dalai Lama, and spiritual teachers from many traditions and lives on 71 acres of woods, fields, and sunset views in the Finger Lakes of New York. Elaine was a nutrition, exercise, and women’s health counsellor, but after her husband’s death in 2008, her focus turned to healthy grieving and the challenges and rewards of creating a new life. She now facilitates hospice support groups for women who have lost partners or spouses, writes for the Hospicare and Palliative Care of Tompkins County newsletter and website, and helps others find the spiritual core and deeper connections available within loss.
Elaine’s book Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief will be published by Larson Publications (October 2014). Dale Borglum of the Living/Dying Project said about the book: “Not only a touching and courageous memoir about love, illness, death, and grief, Elaine Mansfield’s Leaning into Love is a manual for healing that offers us the emotional and spiritual tools needed to grow and even flourish through life’s deepest crisis.”
Elaine writes a weekly blog about life’s adventures and lessons at elainemansfield.com/blog. Her email address is elaine@elainemansfield.com
Jean Raffa’s newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks 

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11 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this Jean! It is very inspiring and encouraging. Just what I so needed to hear. 🙂 Infinite Blessings to you and your “work,” aka calling… <3 <3 <3 NadineMarie <3 <3 <3

  2. Thanks for your inspiring answers and your ability to follow your intuition. Great questions, aren’t they? I wonder what I’ll say.

  3. I found this post to be very inspiring … which shouldn’t surprise me because I’ve been inspired by your authenticity, wisdom, and words since meeting you during my Dream Studies training in 2009!

  4. “Best of all, at last, I seem to be learning how to love” – from all that I have read in your blogs Jean Raffa it seems to me you are clearly someone who has always loved – intuitively, generously and deeply. Might I suggest you have rather – at last and best of all – been learning, rather, THAT you love and are now able to understand and enjoy the wonder, glory and sheer delight of loving that has gone into every part of who you have been, who you are and who you are becoming.
    thank you for this wonderful blog
    Maggie Roux

    1. Dear Maggie,
      Thank you so much for such a kind and generous-spirited comment.
      If I am someone who has always loved intuitively and generously, I owe this to the love I received from my parents from the earliest age. Yet, I also have a Shadow that’s not so loving. I began to see it in my mid-thirties and it was quite a wake-up call. At that point I made “learning to love” the conscious goal of my life.
      Years of dreamwork and self-reflection have shown me that wanting to be loving and trying to “act” loving does not necessarily mean that I’m thinking loving thoughts, feeling loving feelings, and living with loving words, behavior and compassion in everyday life, especially in difficult situations. I guess what I’m getting better at now is seeing the unloving qualities when they pop up and knowing how to replace them with the genuinely loving ones.
      The Ego is easily tricked into believing it is what it wants to be, but no matter how hard it tries to live up to its ideal, the Shadow will always have its say. So I’ve had to learn to see and accept my not-so-loving shadow and be aware of when and where it pops up. This inner work has helped me be more loving toward myself, which is also helping me feel more loving to others, even when their shadows pop up!!
      I hope this makes sense. And, again, thank you.

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