The Importance of Online Writing Groups – Guest Post…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

The inspiration for my novel, Miami Morning, came from a source made possible only by modern communications technology. Through the internet, it’s possible to network with people who are quite different from us, who live in other countries, engage in other occupations, and come from a variety of cultural settings. Several years ago, this opportunity brought me into a relationship with new people, and their experiences, and our shared experience, fueled my imagination.

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I was invited to join an online discussion group by someone I met on LinkedIn. But it wasn’t through a literary forum. Instead, it was one of the philosophy groups. David Turnbull and I had been responding to each other’s comments on posts. This was followed by corresponding via personal email. He read some of my writing, which led to a passionate, and sometimes heated, discussion of ideas and beliefs. He then invited me to join…

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Tally: An Intuitive Life, Review by David Turnbull

“It constitutes a remarkable piece of discourse in its own right, a book worth reading opening up a distinctive view of the world.”

Mary Clark’s book, Tally, an intuitive life, describes how a friend of the writer named Rogue, introduced Erin (as Mary herself) into the life of Tally, an iconic figure in Greenwich Village. My interest in this book stems from my own work in enabling communities of human occupation in a rural and remote region of Australia. Many such communities are microcosmic in scale and are frequently unnoticed across the more widely publicised political landscapes of the world.

Together, Erin, Rogue and Tally formed a unique community. The focus of that community was organising Tally’s writings and manuscripts into a work that could be accessed by a wider audience separated in time and space from the bold and risky social experiments in art and life that characterised Greenwich Village.

This microcosmic community exemplifies writing as a means of enabling communities of human occupation in a number of ways. First it ensures that Tally’s work is not silenced by his personal death. Second it leaps across the chasm of mere litany or polemics. By that I mean it does not relegate Tally to having “a wasted life”, relegated to the dustbin of romanticism. Third it explores the social world of Bohemian culture in America and contributes to an understanding of its influence on American society. Fourth it constitutes a remarkable piece of discourse in its own right, a book worth reading opening up a distinctive view of the world. Fifth it poses the interesting question in the mind of at least some readers as to the extent to which life can become art, and how a life devoted to art can be sustained in the modern world. “Life-as-art” is the essential metaphor in this community.

To read more of his review, click here.

— David Turnbull’s review of Tally: An Intuitive Life , illuminates the artist’s life in the modern world, and the importance of forming “occupational communities” and enabling dialogue. Transformative consciousness is essential not only to the artist, but to the human species if it hopes to adapt to global changes in communication, diversity, community, economics, political structures and environment. David Turnbull coaches occupational communities, with a focus on enhancing dialogue among very different people. His blog is No Dangerous Thoughts

Tally: An Intuitive Life, All Things That Matter Press, 2013.

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Tally: An Intuitive Life

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Tally: An Intuitive Life, published by All Things That Matter Press

Available at Amazon/Kindle and BarnesandNoble.com/Nook

An unlikely friendship between a young woman and an elderly man becomes a journey into identity, aging, and the meaning of life. The young Erin Yes is intrigued by the 79 year-old Greenwich Village artist Paul Johnston (PJ).

Erin Yes, called Eyes and Eyart by PJ, learns of his early days in the 1920s Village, and his career as a fine printer, book designer and writer. But in mid-life, PJ tells her, he and his wife split up, and he fell ill. He died in the hospital, and accepted “this death as the fulfillment of a very great life.” To his consternation, he is brought back to life to find he is receiving a blood transfusion from his estranged wife.

After this “death and renascence” he realized he is a “ghost of the father, the husband, the printer” he had been. At the same time, he has been purged of all the guilt of his previous life. Still, he  is not a baby, but reborn or “re-based” in the skeleton of a man with the mind and memory of an adult. He has to re-identify himself and “find new reasons to live.” Over the years, he creates several identities: The Writer, The Artist, The Professor of Love, and The Old Man.

Throughout the second half of his life, he re-creates himself anew, each time returning to innocence. He begins to write a daily journal, tapping into several levels or layers of consciousness, where he finds “all the comprehensions and contradictions” of life. He evaluates his intent, motives and behavior, and in this way, is able to adjust his intuition so that he can act and react in an amiable and positive way.

Erin is intrigued by his concepts of intuition in life and art, of guilt and innocence, and the transforming role of consciousness. Erin and PJ’s friendship is an emotional and intellectual adventure, often testing the limits of their relationship. Erin comes to realize PJ is more than a teacher and friend.

Will you think of me, and love me,

As you did once long ago?

Review excerpts:

“Unexpectedly, I found myself very moved by the book’s ending, feeling the question: how can we be sure we have influenced someone as significantly as they have influenced us?” – Diane M. Denton, author of A House Near Luccoli

“PJ’s intellect and humor makes him an utterly fascinating subject. Some of his musings are brilliant; others, wildly off-the-wall. … It’s not a book you can race through, but one that will make you think a lot about how anyone assembles the flotsam of life into a coherent story. Lest you think PJ was some kind of eccentric and amusing kook, a chapter near the end will prove you wrong.” – Marylee MacDonald, author of Montpelier Tomorrow