Welcome back to The Story Behind The Story series. Today’s post is by Veronika Bond. She shares a fascinating backstory to creating The Solo System.
In his Letters to a Young Poet Rainer Maria Rilke writes: “Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create…. Then build your life in accordance with this necessity.”
The source from which my life flows fuels my writing. In 2014 I published the first part of a series called The Solo System. Volume One is an Atlas of the inner world of human Consciousness. The Solo System crosses boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, as well as inner reality and outer reality.
Before the Solo System I had written about 20 books, both fiction and non-fiction. But I wasn’t a writer. My fiction pieces were translations of Arabic novels, most of them written by women. My non-fiction books were translations of reference works for homeopathic practitioners.
The Solo System came from a deeper place. Writing a magnum opus about human Consciousness had never been my plan! It would have seemed far too daunting and presumptuous. In the creative process, however, the writer never works alone.
Looking back at my life I can now understand why the Solo System came to me. I was born as the 2nd of five children to German parents. I grew up in Bethlehem at a time it belonged to Jordan. We lived in a small boarding school for Palestinian orphans. My father was teaching German, English, art, and religious education, my mother organised the large household and gardens.
In the world of my childhood I was the only girl. My ‘childhood friends’ were my dolls. I remember the daughter of an American missionary family. We might have met once a week for about a year, then she was gone. Arabic girls hardly ever entered a boys’ school, unless there was a special event.
My childhood was spent in a bubble. I lived in my inner world, since there wasn’t much I could identify with in the outside world.
We had a rich library of children’s books, and I became an avid reader at the age of five. I started writing a diary around the age of 14 – by which time we had moved back to what was supposed to be my homeland – I felt like an alien.
From 1989-1992 I lived in Totnes, England to complete my homeopathic training. Totnes attracts many movers and shakers, or followers of the so-called New Age movement. While I was skeptical of many aspects of the movement, one idea caught my attention.
The idea that we are creators of our own world goes back a long way. The Buddha told his followers, “All experiences are preceded by mind, having mind as their master created by mind.” Some contemporary physicists and neuroscientists acknowledge that we play a part in creating our own reality. A popular New Age interpretation of this concept is that we can literally think, imagine, and believe our way into the life of our dreams.
In my mid thirties this sounded very appealing to me. I was stuck in an unhappy marriage at the time. If I could create a better life for myself and my children, and if this could be done using the power of my own mind, that was exciting.
But alas, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say. My attempts at creating the life of my dreams landed me in the worst nightmare of my life. I ended up losing most of my belongings, receiving death threats and being stalked by a psychopath.
I had to flee from the life I had inadvertently created and was swept to the shores of Cornwall, where generations of writers had taken refuge from the world. While my children were at school I spent many hours with my writing pad on the beach. I was writing my heart out, trying to make sense of what had happened and how it could go so wrong…
I picked up a copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and began a regular practice of ‘Morning Pages’. After a few months, an idea for a novel emerged, and I started writing what was supposed to become ‘my first book’. Two main questions would be woven into the narrative:
How do we create our own world? and
What is the reason for our negative experience?
About a year into the project I hit a serious obstacle. The answers to those deep questions eluded me… I returned to writing Morning Pages, starting with one of those two questions every day.
How do we create our own world? or
What is the reason for our negative experience?
After a couple of months, I received a surge of inspiration. The floodgates to a new level of knowing opened, and I was given access to information about ‘a map of the inner world’.
I would wake up at night, my head bursting with ideas. I could hardly scribble fast enough to release the inner pressure. Pouring the contents of my brain onto the page made space for the next gush of inspiration. Within a few weeks I had ‘downloaded’ the basic information for The Solo System. That was in 1999.
Meanwhile my life had changed dramatically. Through a series of fortunate events I developed a successful freelance career as a translator of homeopathic literature, I bought my first house despite having very little money – a lovely Victorian semi-detached property near the ocean –, and I met my ‘twin-soul’. In other words, I wasn’t just writing about the creation process. I was applying it, and it was working!
Popular techniques for ‘creating one’s own world’ are based on the assumption that you have to control certain functions of your own Consciousness. You practice focussing your attention on the things you want, try to ‘cut out the negative stuff’ from your experience, and visualise a ‘better life’. Effectively you try to become a dictator of your inner world.
The Solo System taught me that the human work of creation is not a matter of controlling our own mind. Instead, we are asked to participate in the complex and often conflicting activities in our own Consciousnes in such a way that we bring harmony into our inner world. This cannot be achieved by aggressively promoting certain functions while suppressing others. As creators of our own world our job is to restore and maintain the equilibrium of our inner ecosystem.
My familiarity with the inner world, combined with translation skills, and knowledge of homeopathic principles, enabled me to work out a blueprint of the human creation process. The Solo System showed me that our Consciousness is not a mechanism we have to control to make sure it works properly. Creating the life we want is not primarily a matter of achieving certain goals.
Our Consciousness is a living organism. It has voluntary and autonomous functions, just like our physical organism. The ‘inner organ systems’ of our Consciousness always do their best to perform well and contribute to the balance of the inner biosphere. Our experiences in the outer world are natural reflections of our inner equilibrium. Any negative experience offers valuable information to help us sustain our inner eco system.
While receiving the material for the Solo System via inspiration, I understood the information intuitively and was applying it instinctively. Looking back, I can see how this knowledge had been lying dormant within the soil of my inner world, even as a child. Through my negative experience this knowledge had forced itself into my awareness.
Then came the epic task of translating the raw material into a book. While the blueprint of the Solo System continuously proved its value in my daily life, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to share it, or whether it was meant to be shared at all… ‘Choosing the right format’ became a major stumbling block on my path.
In 2011 I came across a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, where she speaks about the writer’s struggle to produce a brilliant piece of work. “If this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault,” she says to her creative Genius. “I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this. If you want it to be better, you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal. … And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.”
Elizabeth Gilbert’s words gave me the necessary kick in the backside to show up at my desk every day and write the Solo System. I struck a deal with my Creative Genius and promised to do my part of the job. It took me a further 2 years to complete the manuscript for the first volume.
For the record: The Solo System is not a self-help book. It is not ‘my system to help you create the world you want’. It is not a formula for figuring out how to control and manipulate our inner eco system. In my experience such formulas are inappropriate and potentially hazardous.
When I was asking, how can I create what I want? – That was the wrong question! Human Consciousness is creating all the time. Our part of the job is to learn how this natural creative process works and how we can best facilitate it.
The Solo System offers a contemporary and creative view of the human ‘inner solar system’. Volume 1, The Atlas’ provides maps of the inner world covering eight major areas of human Consciousness: Will, Soul, Inspiration, Intuition, Imagination, Instinct, Intellect, and Body.
Vol. II The Horizon, Vol. III The Tropics, and Vol. IV The Zenith are still in gestation.
© Veronika Bond, 2016