Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Annie Murphy Paul

Book > Brain > Heart ~ Literary Magic . . .


Ever had someone tell you that your response to an event is more important than the event itself—that, essentially, we co-create the world of reality and our interpretation of things is the prime mover of meaning?

Consider—folks’ responses to the death of a loved one shows a range of reaction that spans states of being that include: the urge to commit suicide to join them; massive depression that ruins the rest of their lives; passage through the “normal” stages of grief; and, the reaction of individuals who, though grieving for themselves, are joyful their loved one has gone to a “better place”

Certainly, the old saw, Think Positive, has many and varied possible manifestations; and, even the worst events can bear a load of wisdom that enriches our lives.

So, perhaps you’re wondering if this blog is still about Reading, Writing, and Publishing? :-)

Let me reassure you:

Ever had a book’s story seem more real than everyday life?

Ever had fiction teach you a life lesson in three days that had eluded you for years?

If so, you’ve proven that your interior sense of meaning has creative power that can shape the outer, “real” world

The Book > Brain > Heart formula is the Reading journey.

Writers use the formula, Heart > Brain > Book.

And, “Heart”, in this context, can include realms that others refer to as psychological and metaphysical.

The Brain part of those formulas is worth exploring more deeply, too.

Luckily, Annie Murphy Paul wrote an opinion-piece for The New York Times called, Your Brain on Fiction.

Here are a few excerpts to help you decide to read the full article:

“Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.”

“The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated.”

“These findings will affirm the experience of readers who have felt illuminated and instructed by a novel….Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined.”

So, do you believe reading fiction can help you solve life-problems?

Many writers admit that writing fiction has helped them come to grips with reality

Are you intrigued with the idea that fiction might be able to improve your interpretation of life-experience?

Naturally, which fiction you choose to read is a crucial factor in how the formula works—the wrong fiction could mess you up, eh?

Do you think writing the wrong kind of fiction can mess up a writer’s life?

Have any personal insights about Literary Magic you’d like to share in the Comments?
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What Do You Know? ~ How Do You Know It?


Reading and writing both need knowledge to function and both give knowledge if done right.

Publishing should contain knowledge from both readers and writers.

From the previous post, Do Writers Always Know What They’re Writing About?:

“Over-used, old writing maxim: ‘Write what you know.’

“Misunderstood, old human maxim: ‘Know thyself.’”

And, in the post, The Knowledge A Writer Needs . . ., I postulated four broad areas of necessary knowledge: Reality, World, Social, and Self.

The question today is, When Do We Begin Learning?

Kindergarten?

One year old?

After our first breath?

Annie Murphy Paul is a magazine journalist and book author who writes about the biological and social sciences.”

One of her books has a fascinatingly long title: The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves.

She’s also wrote, Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.

From that last title, it becomes apparent her position is that we all begin gathering knowledge in the womb

Does this knowledge change the maxim, Know Thyself, or the “rule” that a writer, Write What They Know?

Do, please, enjoy watching this video of Annie as she explores learning before birth and do, please, leave a comment :-)


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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com