The Change Artist brings Carla Rieger's powerful recipe for mastering self change into a compelling story format.
The story begins with the troubled relationship between an adult daughter and her dying father.
I often coach people who want to make a profession out of their creative endeavors such as writers, artists, filmmakers, photographers, actors, educators, etc.
After years of researching, interviewing and studying entrepreneurs who are trying to make a living from their creative work in the world…there seems to be 3 mindsets you need in place to make that happen.
The good news is that once you can manufacture these 3 mindsets your creative juices tend to flow again. One mindset is to give yourself permission to make a living from your creative work. It’s about getting back into the creative cycle of giving and receiving in the world. Many creative types undervalue their work and then find themselves living from the scarcity mindset of “The Starving Artist”.
If people don’t give to you in some way, they don’t truly receive the value of your creative offering. There hasn’t been an exchange of “value for value”. That means the integrity of your connection with the world becomes compromised.
To learn about the other mindsets, here is a short interview between me, Carla Rieger, and Gail Martin. Both of us are creative entrepreneurs and also help creatives bring their works to market in high integrity ways. Enjoy! And feel free to leave your comments, insights and questions below…what helped you shift from being a creative hobbiest to being a creative entrepreneur?
Elaine Couglar has a very well written blog “On Becoming a Wordsmith” about writing, her journey, her reviews of books and writing events. Very interesting posts. Check out her review of Carla Rieger’s keynote at the eWomen Network’s Women & Words Conference.
Not Just Another War Story
Carla Rieger got my attention in her keynote address right from the beginning. She smiled a lot and radiated energy and zest for life. And then she started telling her story.
She was the daughter of an elderly man who had been very successful in business but became a recluse as he aged. So much so that he kept everything, refused to see anyone and told his daughter nothing of his past lives. Yes, I mean lives. When he died Carla found a box all taped up which she decided to open rather than just throw in the dumpster with the mountains of other stuff she had to clear out of his house.
In the box she found many clues to her father’s past and decided to search out more. She found she was descended from the Roma people, that her father had changed his name several times to escape the world of Nazi Germany and the post-war hate of anything German. Her story was, in fact, so incredible that eventually she wrote and self-published it. The Change Artist is the result.
I so enjoyed Carla’s upbeat presentation that I had to have her book. It was good. The story was amazing. Unfortunately, a little more editing would have pleased me. Still, I recommend this read.
In Carla’s address she talked about the connection between putting her creative project aside and bad things in her life versus working on it and life flowing well again. I can relate to that with my novel. When I ignore it for a time, I feel restless and vaguely unhappy. As soon as I get back at the writing, my sunny spirit soars.
Carla used the word switchover to suggest that we need to put aside negative-I-can’t-do-it thoughts and focus on the positive. Switchover to things and thoughts which have positive value and life will be so much more rewarding. That seemed to be a focus at this conference.
Inside each of us is a committee; we need to get that committee going for us. We need big creative goals and we need to put our committee to work on them. What a great thought. If our creative goal is too boring, it will bore our committee, i.e. our mind cells.
How can we up our game, then? Can we make our goals more exciting and powerful? Carla says we must each give ourselves permission to be in the world as an artist. And she related a story about water from her Roma past. What would water do, she said, to get over the hurdles? Well, it would go around them. I thought about this in relation to my book. I will go around the hurdles.
Another problem we have is not believing in ourselves and letting the gremlins sabotage our great plans. She watches herself on video and she can see that she is a good speaker. This gives her confidence and banishes the bad thoughts. I could relate to those bad thoughts. Have you ever lain awake at three in the morning and thought about your problems? Those gremlins jump up and down on your bed and totally take over your mind. I have resolved to have a list of my accomplishments ready for the next time that happens. Thanks for that, Carla.
Finally, Carla left us with this interesting thought: that her Roma forefathers do not trust the written word because it keeps people in the past. Instead they embrace change. Of course it is much easier to change if the rules aren’t written down, isn’t it? I guess we writers and lovers of the written word will have to think on that idea, but I loved the novelty of the thought. Read the book and find what I found–a unique look at a time about which truckloads have been written.
She proposes that the survival of the human species will only happen once we resolve the war between masculine and feminine – both within each person and within the collective mindset. It’s about shifting the domination of the “girl cell” by the patriarchal mindset – which is also a theme in the award winning novel, The Change Artist, which is based on a true story.
If you buy the Change Artist book through any online bookstore, send us your receipt and we will give you a free 2 month subscription to The Change Artist life membership site (worth $40). This is 1 hour of video and webinar content on how to:
– integrate your own masculine and feminine energies
– be the artist of your own destiny
– manifest the change you want to see in the world
– have the courage to face challenging transitions
We donate 10% of proceeds for this book to The Girl Effect, created by the Nike Foundation and NoVo Foundation to educate people about the positive impact educating and empowering girls can have on a community.
If you are like me and spent years doing all this amazing family research, what do you finally do with it all? A compilation of facts about your family history may be interesting to you, a few close family members, and maybe other family historians, but what about the rest of the world? This article is about using your genealogical research as the starting point to create a compelling novel or short story. There is plenty of information available about how to turn your genealogical research into a nonfiction book as a legacy for your family but almost nothing about writing a fiction inspired by true events discovered in your research. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this kind of a project?
1. Making your story more readable
People tend to be drawn into a story if there is a certain structure to the story, or what myth expert, Joseph Campbell, might call The Monomyth. This is a basic pattern found in many narratives from around the world and from disparate times in history suggesting that humans respond in psychologically powerful ways if this pattern is applied. Real lives are generally complicated and full of tangents and mundane aspects of life that are either confusing or generally un-interesting to the typical reader. In other words, if you try to tell an ancestor’s story in the exact way it actually happened, chances are you will lose your reader’s interest. Even popular stories that say they are based on a true story are often just inspired by true events; meaning several characters or events have been collapsed into one, or timelines have been shortened, new events and characters have been added in, names and dates changed, and so on. According to Wikipedia Based on a True Story is a form of semi-fiction or mainly fiction implementing some nonfiction. Most good writers will alter true events quite extensively in order use proper story structure and capture more fully the universal truths within the hero’s journey.
2. Protecting people’s privacy and avoiding legal hassles
Another compelling reason to turn your research into fiction or semi-fiction is to protect people’s privacy and, in some cases, even avoid legal hassles. Some people don’t want their life stories made public to others especially if there is controversial information included. Even those who agreed to be identified in a story have been known to later try to sue the author once it is on the market and they read the final version. Even if you change their name, some family members have objected because the surrounding facts still point directly to them. Also you may feel free to talk about a relative that has passed away but later discover their descendants are unhappy with the story being made available to the general public. In some cases, you may even want to change the gender, the relationship, and the time period in order to protect yourself and others.
3. Bringing forth universal truths
At the core of why people do genealogical research you will often find people’s desire to understand themselves more fully. The journeys of our ancestors can help use learn some of life’s greatest lessons. Using proper story structure will help you uncover the essence of their journey, the universal truths they had to uncover, and thus allow people a greater understanding of the human story as a whole through your writing. Many people discover through their research amazing stories, sometimes of their own family and sometimes of other people and historical figures that shaped their destiny. You may choose to simply let your research activate your imagination so that your writing that brings the experiences of your ancestors to much wider range of people.
1. You might lose some purists
Some people will only read a book if they think it’s a totally true story rather than semi-biographical. This is a valid concern and so you will need to decide who you are writing down these stories for. If keeping things totally factual is important to you and your readers then you will need do extensive fact checking, and double checking your sources. You may also need to leave parts of the story out and if you can’t find hard facts to prove what happened.
2. Your ancestors’ stories are already in a readable story form
The actual story of your ancestors may be already a strong narrative and therefore embellishing it may actually ruin the story. It is unusual but you can find compact stories full of intrigue, dramatic tension and foreshadowing without much help from you as a writer. In those cases you don’t need to create a story structure around it. This is usually the case if you take just one incident in a person’s life such as surviving a shipwreck or winning an important audition that led to huge career success.
I chose a novel format rather than a memoir or biography format for my book, The Change Artist, because of a variety of reasons. Some or all of these reasons may feel relevant for you in deciding how to structure the stories of your ancestors.
I couldn’t find all the details of what happened to my family due to records either not existing or being lost. Rather than leave parts of the story blank I chose to invent them, or draw conclusions based on a number of existing facts.
I wanted to protect the privacy of living relatives.
I found other stories of people who lived at the same time as my ancestors and wanted their stories told, as well. While those meetings may never have happened, the facts of their lives got to live on the page and be shared with subsequent generations.
Feel free to comment on what you think may be the advantages or disadvantages of turning your research into a story or novel.
The novel, The Change Artist, explores among other things the challenges of being an innovative leader that has integrity.
People attracted to leading change are often revolutionary types who have an axe to grind, who regularly break down old ways of being to create something new, who are brilliant at envisioning new ideas and have a charismatic way of expressing their ideas. Tied to integrity, accountability and sustainability, these kinds of people have brought forth important change throughout history. If that vision lacks integrity and sustainability, and there is no accountability in place, then invariably that change will be unsuccessful at best, or severely destructive at worst, as in the case of Enron or the Nazi regime.
Change Artist leaders such as Gandhi or Steve Jobs of Apple tend to have a softer but more sustainable approach. The difference could be likened to the tortoise versus the hare.
Revolutionary leaders tend to take a radical stance on change, demolishing the old status quo without buy in from stakeholders. Change Artist leaders tend to marry tradition with innovation to find the best of both worlds, including others in the decision-making.
Revolutionaries often act in covert ways to bring down the old status quo, whereas Change Artists keep lines of communication open so that the process is transparent to those who will be affected by the change.
Revolutionaries tend to get alienated or marginalized from the channels of power that could ultimately support them. Change Artists work to win people over to their ideas through including diverse points of view.
Revolutionaries tend to focus on concepts and visions to the exclusion of practicalities. Change Artists tend to ground their visionary concepts in case studies and practical terms appropriate for the context.
Revolutionaries are often driven by a desire to be recognized as the architect of a new vision. Change Artists are driven by the desire to let the vision grow organically in a way that bests serves all those concerned.
Revolutionaries want to see the change happen in a fast and exciting way. Change Artists want to see the change happen in a way that keeps stakeholders engaged and on board.
Revolutionaries are known to disrespect and diminish those who still value the existing status quo and will actually sabotage what they value. Change Artists explore diverse points of view to find the overlap of values between all those concerned. They also stick around to see the idea implemented, using persistence through the debugging phase.
In short, Change Artists bring forth the kind of change that has integrity and sustainability. Often you will find that a Change Artist is someone who has tried the Revolutionary approach and learned from it. They then used that experience to ground them into leading a change that is sustainable.
Carla Rieger has written a compelling story, inspired by true events in her own life.
After her father’s death, Carla Rieger found the journal she had once given him and discovered he had filled it with details about the secrets of his past.
This discovery became the catalyst for The Change Artist, a semi-autobiographical journey of discovery, in which Fran, the heroine, uncovers her father’s two hidden lives, discovers a sister that she never knew she had, and frantically searches for the truth.
Rieger has mastered the art of the page-turner; as the narratives of different characters intersect and diverge, the reader is compelled to find out what happens next. Written in a style influenced by Dan Millman and Dan Brown, The Change Artist is a mythic journey that blends fiction with truth, offering lessons in creativity, spirituality and history along the way.
The Change Artist is told from the point of view of 3 characters at different times in history. Name actors who you think should play them plus the love interest and why. Our panel of judges will decide which entry has the best argument for all four. Winner receives 4 free copies of The Change Artist to give out as gifts. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 30th, 2009.
1. The daughter (the present) – around 30 years old, Canadian woman, dark features, petite.
2. The father (1940′s) – around 20 years old, male with dark features, athletic build.
3. The grandmother (1930′s) – around 30 years old, Roma/Gypsy woman, dark features, petite.
4. Jasper, the love interest (the present) – mid 30′s, handsome, British musician with dark features.
The Change Artist is about moral dilemmas and a person who justified his actions (as many of us do) only to later regret those choices.
The father character chose to do some things as a young man to try to make amends and thought that those actions never made a difference his whole life, when actually they really did. The Change Artist is about the price we pay when we choose to act based on survival rather than on principles. It’s also about the price we pay when we label ourselves as a victim or a villain and never find forgiveness for ourselves or others. At its core it’s about the power of forgiveness.
Most people live their entire lives condemning themselves or others for past mistakes. This form of condemnation can be a self-made prison and will sap the joy out of life. Yet, why is forgiveness so difficult? So elusive? Because to forgive yourself is to truly take responsibility for what you’ve done and to learn from it, to grow from it. If you condemn yourself it’s a way of splitting yourself off, of distancing yourself from the human part that falls down and makes mistakes.
Similarly to condemn others is to distance yourself from the collective human shadow, to make yourself “better than”. This can create the illusion that you are somehow not responsible. This is a natural human tendency. To be responsible is to literally be “able to respond”. If we see people in the world choosing their response instead of letting their response choose them, then we see the beginning of growth, evolution and change for the human condition.
If it’s always someone else’s fault then there can be no learning or growth. Forgiveness takes the courage to look at yourself and at the world. It challenges you to choose your response, to choose to evolve and to choose to grow. The more people in the world taking back their ability to respond, the sooner we restore ourselves to wholeness.
Change leaders can become targets. Often the person who suggests a new idea gets shot down by people who are uncomfortable with change. There are plenty of examples throughout history of people who stood for change getting assassinated or vilified. It’s no wonder we keep our mouths shut.
There are inherent forces within nature to create, to stay the same for a while, then to destroy. It’s the cycle of life that also affects people. There are times in a person’s life (and times in history) when we need to release the old to make room for something new. This transition can trigger turmoil as the energy of one fights against the other, like two chemicals in a test tube. Finally, the two become one and a third entity emerges. The Phoenix rises from the ashes of the old. The new tree grows from the dead trunk of a mother tree.
If we keep our mouths shut when it’s clear a change is needed there can be negative consequences. Stifling your creative ideas, can undermine your own well being but also those you serve. Leading change comes with risks, but if that is your path then life tends to mysteriously show up to help. Choosing the path of a change artist requires you to have certain habits so that you can be as resilient as possible.
Here is Carla Rieger talking about The Change Artist, a novel about the perils of denying your creativity. It explores one woman’s path of reconnecting to her creative heritage and habits she needed to become a leader of change.