Author Questions and Answers
Copyright © 2019 Mark Woollacott, all rights reserved.
I endeavour not to intentionally change any reader's world view or beliefs, but through my words I may gently open a small window through which the reader can know of something far greater and lovelier.”
Q: What is truth?
In metaphysical/spiritual terms, it is an experience of the eternal part of yourself. When people talk about truth and how to define it, it is really a way of equating a word (and its meaning) with your spiritual reality through direct experience – and having full awareness of this experience. Once experienced, your understanding of what is “truth” becomes clear and certain and never in doubt. It is the actual experience of truth that qualifies it. An intellectual understanding of truth is not the same thing, for that would merely be a carefully considered thought, theory and assumption which is then used as a fact. If I were to describe for you an account of my experience of truth, still that would not be an experience of truth for you.
Q: Define poetry?
Poetry is harmony, in word form. For me, writing poetry is like watching a succession of raindrops, each one pure and new and each representing a word or phrase, one following the other in a steady rhythm. And as the raindrops splash open, they each carry a part of the poem, a story chain, that links everything eventually into the fullest form of which the poem was meant.
Q: What is inspired writing?
Some of the writing in A Beautiful Reality came through as “inspired writing”. What this means is that many of the words came into my mind without having to think about them; I simply typed (or wrote) them down as they flowed through me into awareness. This was an experience that felt perfectly natural. I did not set out to experience inspired writing; it simply happened to me. In some ways, it was like taking dictation from my mind – with no advance warning that it was going to happen. It is a form of writing that arises from a higher state of conscious awareness. This experience was completely new to me – and it was also quite unexpected!
Inspired writing doesn't involve meditating or going into some sort of religious trance-like state, nor is it the same thing as “free writing” or “automatic writing”; rather it happens when the writer is fully conscious and alert … it just comes through, like an immediate flow of thoughts in the mind. The only way I can describe the difference between inspired writing and ordinary everyday creative writing is that inspired writing genuinely seems to carry a “greater truth” in the words that are coming through into the conscious mind, and feels very natural and peaceful when it occurs — almost as if the writer is in the process of receiving a higher, creative gift! If this should ever happen to you, you will understand perfectly what I am describing.
Q: Is it possible to view writing as a form of spiritual practice?
Most certainly. Consider all those monks and nuns (and all those early scribes) who dedicated parts of their lives to creating the ancient illuminated manuscripts that we see in museums, libraries and cathedrals today. For them it would certainly have been a spiritual practice: to produce something of beauty and profundity for the world. This is what “spiritual” means: to be inspired by the eternal, but also to be able to share with others that which has already been received inwardly from spirit. It is a spiritual practice in the sense that a writer can cultivate a wonderful level of patience, inner peacefulness, and also enable a greater degree of intuitive improvement through their creative practice.
I feel the same way about my books A Beautiful Reality and Love Would Say. I can only imagine that such inner discipline is essential to be receptive to spiritual inspiration and to create a written work guided by a process that is on a level not often experienced by the majority of people – but I would certainly add that it is a process that will always be open to everyone, and not just the few.
Q: What research do you do?
In the books A Beautiful Reality and Love Would Say I did very little research, as the book came straight from my heart and mind. However, if I write a novel, I will often carry out a little more research and find out things which help me to create a greater accuracy and believability about the characters, the settings and time period in the story.
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
On average, it normally takes me between two and three months to complete the first draft. The next stage involves rewriting the entire book, and this brings an opportunity to add new content to the book. It is always worth taking the time to do things properly and not to rush things through when writing a book. I continue rewriting and editing (sometimes spending a year or longer on the book) until I am fully satisfied that I can do no more with it. I also find it very helpful to have someone whom I can read extracts of the book to and receive valuable feedback as I'm going along; which can be critical as well as complementary, but such feedback is always useful and helps me as a writer. It's like having a fresh pair of ears, to listen to the book, that can put it into a different perspective for me. I find it most valuable.
Q: What is your work schedule typically like when you're writing?
It varies from day to day. Sometimes I will spend six hours at the computer, working on a book. In my early days of writing, I can remember spending up to fourteen hours each day. If I have other work commitments which take me away from writing (such as art commissions) then I may only get around to an hour's writing at most. I tend to read during the evenings, so most of the actual writing is done during the day. I sometimes like to listen to music when I'm writing (and when I'm painting) but I can work just as happily in silence.
One thing I never do is to give myself self-imposed, unnecessary and unmanageable deadlines (e.g. that I must finish a particular chapter by the end of the day, or I must write so many words every day!); I never place such pressure on myself. Writing for me is always a pleasant, inspiring, peaceful and a fully committed process. I take my time with everything I create, simply because I wish to do the very best I can. I never regard the creative process as a thing which should be regarded as a matter of urgency.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think it must have been around 1995 or 1996. I suddenly felt I wanted to write a novel; it was quite a spontaneous decision really. There had been nothing, no hints at all, that had led up that moment. However, saying that, I do recall being inspired (during the early 1990s) after reading Dante's Paradise (from the Divine Comedy). I enjoyed his writing very much (and wished I could write to that high standard) because it brought a beauty and elegance to the subject of spirituality and opened my mind to the concept of divine love.
My first novel (which remains unpublished) was entitled The Gardens of Beauty. The source of inspiration for this novel was probably influenced by the first vision I ever experienced, which occurred on 21st October 1989. It was a vision of a minor deity from Roman mythology, called Lady Rose. Lady Rose is the Roman goddess of roses. She has an association with the Goddess Flora. Elements of what I saw in the vision – which were extremely beautiful – were used in the setting of the novel.
During 1998, I became interested in scriptwriting and learned another aspect of writing which I hadn't explored before. I continued to write novels, but also ventured into writing screenplays and sitcom scripts for television. For me, it was a period of learning the craft; and, like any craft, it takes many years of dedication and work to see improvement.
Q: Why did you write A Beautiful Reality?
This book is in some ways a document of my past, but it is also a document of hope and goodwill that aims to reach out to readers and touch them sincerely with kind intent. My book provides readers with a fresh way of looking at themselves and the world, so that they may question everything for themselves and make their own minds up. I hope this book proves to be the catalyst that eventually leads to change for many of its readers, that opens the way for them to experience more kindness, peacefulness, love and happiness. I truly wish this for them.
In some ways, as an author, I am trying to balance making demands on the reader while at the same time also taking care of the reader. For example, there are many parts in the book where the reader is asked to look at the way they think about themselves, other people and the world in general, and I gently encourage the reader to try looking at these things with a fresh perspective and learn how to practice inner contemplation and cultivate greater peacefulness and patience in their lives. So, basically, I am asking something of the reader (something for them to do, to think about); but at the end of the day, everyone has free will, so it is entirely up to the reader if he or she wants to follow my suggestions or not.
I also endeavour to bring hope to the reader in many parts of the book. By placing my ideas (some of which may seem unusual) before them, it will hopefully bring tranquillity into their life, provide them with an insight into their spiritual nature, and allow scope for greater harmony with those they know — and those they do not know.
Q: How much planning went into A Beautiful Reality?
When I first came up with the idea of writing this book, during November 2017, I did not really have a detailed plan; which was probably just as well, seeing as one of the things I have learned through writing this book is that when I start planning anything and try to have complete control over how I think something should be and how it should end up, I begin to stray from the natural flow of things and, consequently, the “planning” becomes more of a hindrance in some respects. So I’ve learned to trust more, and by doing so, I have relaxed into the creative process much more smoothly and have allowed the true outcome of my creations to come to fruition in the way they were always meant to. And so it was with this book: I only wanted to write something that would prove helpful and for its content to be an honest reflection of my personal experiences; and then I prayed it would all somehow fall into place ... and amazingly, it did. As I began writing, so the chapters took form and came together in a way which I had not envisaged at the beginning.
Q: Do you have a favourite muse or a saint you are particularly drawn to for inspiration?
Not really. I have learned to simply trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Inner Guide) and to allow it to bring me ideas, messages and insights which are meant for the books that I am writing. I started off being a bit sceptical, but now I am trusting that higher connection more. Such inspiration can be received through visual imagery (in dreams, waking visions, inner contemplation) and through ordinary daily experiences and interactions with people.
Q: Do you prefer to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I simply convey what I feel I need to express through my writing. In the example of my book A Beautiful Reality, I certainly had no notions of “being original” or thinking of any potential future readership in terms of commercial aspirations and strategy. Any author who writes about the benefits of divine peace, joy, love and unity is not expressing originality; because these themes are older than time (and any author should know this well and knows that he or she is only writing to remind), and so the appeal of such themes arise because they resonate the only truth proven to be true. How can anyone doubt the benefits of being loving, kind, peaceful, compassionate and showing goodwill and fellowship … what is there not to like about such things? Why on earth would anyone in the world wish to argue against exploring such themes or see fault in what is, at its very essence, a very pleasant and wondrous experience?
Q: Do you want each of your books to stand on their own or are you developing a body of work with common connections between each book?
Although I have written a couple of novels, which do indeed stand alone in their separate genres, my recent books A Beautiful Reality and Love Would Say will become part of a new body of writing that aims to explore the spiritual and metaphysical association between how we exist and function in a physical reality (as we currently understand it) and at the same time become aware of the true Self and all the inner gifts that it can bring (e.g. inner peace, love, joyfulness, unity). My books will convey to the reader that progression can be made alongside conventional mainstream psychological practices and philosophy by introducing a spiritual outlook that can complement how we manage ourselves daily in a material world.
Q: Describe an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I must have been in my twenties when I first came across the writings of the poet Dante Alighieri (a thirteenth-century poet from Florence, Italy, who wrote the Vita Nuova and Divine Comedy). I learned that words could convey rich beauty and spiritual significance when written through higher consciousness and benevolent motivation. I loved reading Paradise, and his love for Beatrice (who was his guide during his visionary journey through the heavens). It was delightful and it made quite an impression on me in terms of my aspirations as a writer.