Writing for a Positive Future
Playing with Natural Talents
Until recently I regularly wrote on three blogs:
A selection of links to previously written articles and interviews:
Home-educating your children in Kiwi Families magazine
The Last War Celebration in Come Home America
The Other Side of the Anti-smacking Story in Scoop
Interview with Grimerica Radio on personality Types, 2019
More recent articles I share below:
Penning Under a Fictional Name
There have been times in history that using a penname was common practice, and other times when it was considered deceptive and morally wrong. Sometimes the political situation in a country is such that a writer must take on a fake name to prevent being imprisoned or worse; sometimes people need to take a genderless name or a name associated with a different gender if their society has a prejudice against one or the other. Today, in the west, there are no strict rules or repercussions, so every writer must make the decision whether to write under a pseudonym, and if so, what name to choose.
Personally, I do not regret having decided, now more than a decade ago, to start using a penname, but there are some things I would have done differently.
I decided to use a penname, because I write socially critical stories, and I did not want my husband and children to have to deal with negative feedback that could affect their work, would my books ever get famous enough for this to become a problem – which they never did.
But though pennames might have worked in the past to conceal a person’s real identity, it is virtually impossible to keep the two separated on the internet. The moment you register your books or you apply for an ISBN, for example, you have to give your real details, as is the case if you want to get paid for them. Not too long after I started publishing, did I find that the algorithms made the connection and I often saw my penname and my real name coming up simultaneously.
Pennames can be real sounding names that are simply not a writer’s given name or they can be completely fictional. I went with that last option, since I did not want a name that could possibly be associated with a real person anywhere.
Since the characters in my books all portray ordinary people, who are not bestowed with special gifts and often feel like a number in the crowd, I decided to play with the word “non-entity” to make that a symbolic representation for my audience and characters. And because I wanted it pronounced the way I heard it in my mind, I added a macron and an accent, as they often did in Latin and Greek.
However, had I lived in New Zealand at the time, I might have noticed a connection to the Māori language, but I did not, and once I started to discover that people believed the name to be Māori, I had already published. To prevent this becoming a problem, and even if most people I talked to did not take offence, I have put my picture with my bio and I explain the reason for the penname on my website, which defeated the purpose of choosing a penname in the first place.
In addition, using accents on the name turned out to make writing posts, especially on social media, which do not have the buttons for them, very cumbersome. I regularly have to type my name in a document and then copy paste it.
Besides, using a penname is not so easy if trying to establish yourself in a niche or specialized topic. I recently found myself attending a conference and speaking under my real name, while trying to promote books that have my penname on them, and having to explain the connection. Especially in the academic world, pennames are not really considered acceptable.
Many people use their real name for one genre and a penname for another genre – or multiple pennames – and if I could go back, that is what I would have done.
On the other hand, my penname helps me come up top of the list if somebody googles it. I do not have to worry about being mistaken for somebody else. And the confusion about the meaning of my name, often gives me an angle to a conversation about my books and my reason for writing.
The misconception people have about the ethnicity of the name is not a problem, as long as I do not start pretending to be Māori in order to get published in certain magazines.
I recently heard about a man who took a female penname so as to be able to be accepted as a romance writer. That is fine, since it is the quality of the stories that should decide success. However, if he is going to try and get published in women’s magazines without admitting he is male, this can become a problem. On the other hand, most women writers in the past had to take a male name or they could not get published at all, and even as recently as two decades ago was J.K. Rowling advised to use initials and not her name, so as not to discourage male readers.
Every writer is different
My advice is to consider it carefully before you decide to choose a penname. If your given name is quite common and you want to be noticed, picking an original name will probably help. Maybe you want a name that is perfect for the genre you are writing in; a flower name might be less suitable for horror stories than for romance, for example.
Once you picked a name, google it and see what comes up. Make sure it does not have any connotations with things you do not want to be associated with. – My name came up with a little monkey in South America, which I thought was lovely and considered using as my logo.
Do some research on the meaning of the name itself. Make sure there is not somebody else already using that name as a writer. You cannot copyright a name, obviously, but it could be regarded as using their established name for your benefit.
Talk to other people, because they might think of something, you missed yourself, like I did.
If you want to keep the two names strictly separated, you have to consider this for every correspondence you undertake in order to get your books published and paid for, and even insist that people who do know the connection not reveal that.
In short, there are benefits and drawbacks to using a penname, but if nothing else, it is a lot of fun and a well-chosen name can become a strong brand. Thank you for reading.
Thank you for reading.
Jung, Freud, Beebe and the Question of the Archetypes
by Nōnen Títi (INFP)
published 2018. Typeface, 29(4), 20-22.
Although nearly everybody in the type community agrees that we can recognize sixteen different psychological types, there are different models that describe the functions that are responsible for their expression. Jung’s model is based on four psychological functions that each can be extraverted or introverted, depending on whether it starts at the object or at the subject. His archetypes are primordial images that have no form, substance, content or clear shape until we give them a name or description (motif), at which point they cease to be archetypes. Beebe’s model comprises eight different function-attitudes, of which the last four form the “shadow personality” that has the functions in the same order as the conscious personality, but each with a different attitude, so that the attitude of the person (E-I and J-P) becomes opposite. Eight archetypal complexes – the hero, good parent, eternal child, animus/anima, opposing personality, senex or critical parent, trickster and the demonic personality – “guide” the expression of the function-attitudes. (Beebe:117 -124) Beebe’s theory is increasingly popular and has since become the basis for new theories that seem to be further removed from the original Jungian theory, so that I find myself more and more inclined to defend Jung against some of their assumptions, especially the suggestion that Jung might have been a different type than he himself said he was.
Do we have four functions or eight functions, and does it really matter?
The stack of function-attitude letters is a symbolic description of our psychic energy, and meant to express our preferred ways of filtering information in a dynamic system that as a whole is our personality. Like any physical energy flows more easily or more naturally in one direction, so psychic energy has a preferred direction and the psychological functions are that because they move psychic energy.
I use the analogy of a camera, which can both zoom in (sensory perception) or zoom out (intuitive perception), but not both simultaneously, and each person has their camera set in their preferred position. Thus, by referring to somebody as an N, it is implicit that the S is the other setting that is not engaged, but nonetheless present. Likewise, the attitudes of the functions themselves are a preferred setting of the same system, which means they cannot be used simultaneously, but that does not make them completely distinct.
We only write one small e and i for each function’s attitude, because the other setting is there by implication and the symbols are just that: shorthand for the entire psyche. But I disagree with Beebe that the function attitudes are so distinct that we might as well see them as eight different functions, because we are not just talking about a semantic difference. Where intuition and ‘sensation’ deal with completely different aspects of perception – they have a different ‘language’ and are tuned to a different aspect of ‘reality’ (they pick up information from different realms) and we cannot possibly do without either of them, this is not the case for the attitudes of the functions. To use their other ‘face’ simply takes more effort – like it takes an introverted person effort to behave extraverted. Similarly, T and F have a different approach to reasoning and we need both: T analyses and eliminates in order to get to an answer, and regards the whole as a set comprising of different units (as Beebe describes the function-attitudes); F justifies in terms of the collective whole and its motivations. Although Beebe stresses that he no longer sees the stack as rigid (Beebe:122), by seeing the function-attitudes as a set of separate units, I feel we are losing the forest in the trees. We know from Jung’s own work that one of the most vital differences between perceivers (IJs and EPs) and deciders or justifiers (IPs and EJs) is that they start their reasoning in a different place, either at perception or justification, and bend the other function to its ‘wishes’, so that deciders, who start at a truth or value will perceive what they already believe and explain perceptions in the light of their theory, while perceivers adjust the theory to account for their perceptions. Likewise, to accept (or not) another person’s idea, perceivers first look for matching perceptions (Can I recognize this inside me?), while deciders ask if the theory makes sense (Can I match this to my beliefs?). Beebe, being a perceiver, explicitly says that he used personal experience as the basis for his theory. “In this way, using myself as an example, and my years of Jungian analysis as a laboratory ...” and to verify his actions the “model ... helps me to see, in just about any interaction, what consciousness (that is, which function-attitude) I am using at that given time.” (Beebe:122123)
Jung, however, was a theorist. His truth was the basis for his interpretations and definitions. Sure, he backed it up with evidence – his Ne went to all disciplines for information – especially from his patients, but those were not his personal perceptions; they were datapoints.
As a decider, I cannot see the need for a shadow of myself (an ENFJ), who might ‘subvert’ my conscious interactions. Of course, I do need some awareness of the rules and mores of the external world, and I am not totally immune to analysis, but those are my conscious functions being used (with some effort) for the other focus. I understand that the ‘good parent’ and ‘good child’ get on together, but that is because two people who share a similar function naturally understand each other. True, people sometimes act contrary to their natural self; as an F, I can become really critical and uncompromising, but that is not my shadow Fe getting the better of me; it is my inferior Te when my dominant Fi is exhausted and can’t stop the screaming tot, and it is perfectly aware of that. Just as we don’t say that our family house is simultaneously occupied by a second family that manifests when we are in a bad mood, so the ‘shadow personality’ is not a different personality,
but a different flow of energy in our one and only personality. In short, I think that four functions and their attitudes are sufficient to explain the way we deal with information; we do not need to separately list those aspects that are implicit in the theory.
Does the archetypal picture make sense?
Well, obviously, it makes sense to Beebe (ENTP) and his followers (mostly INJs), so we might accept that it makes sense to perceivers. But can it make sense for deciders? Well, not for this one. Beebe’s hero is Ne, supported by the ‘good’ parent (Ti); while Te is the critical or negative parent, Fe the eternal child used to have fun, while Se lures him into things he shouldn’t be doing. That all makes sense when you consider the function-attitudes and his descriptions of the archetypes. For INTJs their shadow personality is Beebe’s conscious personality type and vice versa. Therefore, it might still make sense that the second, third, sixth and seventh positions are labelled with “good”, “innocent”, “critical” and “mischievous”. But Jung was INTP. His “good parent” and “critical parent” are both perception functions as is the child that “misbehaves”. The auxiliary ‘good parent’ (Ne) may be directed to the world, but it is not other-focused, as in being the guiding parent (far from it). The whole point of Jung’s psychological types is that “cognition” is not itself a function; each function adds a different form of cognition and has its own special language. Perception can provide instant knowledge (cognition), but S and N, even if symbolically represented, do not judge – perception is value free. Hence, I cannot see how my sensing or intuition, which do not make judgments, can be a critical or ‘good’ parent. I understand that we are talking archetypes, but to assign an archetype a critical voice, is in itself a judgment and the whole idea of Jungian archetypes is that they are unconscious and subjective, and the whole point of the functions is that they belong to consciousness, even if some need time to develop. Archetypes transcend our individual experiences, which means they are part of the collective unconscious, but that does not mean that they manifest the same in each person. In short, to my mind, either the order of the function stack or the order of the archetypes must change before the connection between the two can begin to make sense for deciders.
Without intending to single out one person – because Beebe, too, refers to Jung as Ni dominant despite Jung’s own words (Beebe:203) – but my attention was caught by a mention in the introduction to Hunziker’s book, where Katherine Hirsh quotes the writer saying that he believes Jung to be an INTJ (as opposed to INTP), based, among other things, on the definitions in Jung’s writing always being “somewhat tortured and convoluted and a bit tinged with the didactic tone of the Senex archetype” so that Jung’s introverted thinking retains “vestiges of its shadowy nature”.
Hirsh rightfully says that “Function-Attitude Archetype analysis won’t settle the issue”. (Hunziker, 2017). In other words, Hunziker concludes that the function responsible for Jung’s definitions, because it is “tinged”, must be in the position of the ‘critical parent”, which makes him an INTJ. No offence, but this kind of reverse reasoning – somebody behaves this way (or uses certain language) so they must be such and such a type – is the exact way we do not want to use typology. I do understand that Ni might have a natural perception of how these archetypes work, but Hunziker ignores the very premise of typology (that it is about tendencies) by treating the writing of Jung as if it is objectively convoluted and tortured, as if the shadow influence is in Jung, rather than it being Hunziker’s INTJ interpretation.
From personal experience and discussion with others, INPs do not consider Jung’s writing as convoluted or tortured. That it is didactic I’ll grant, but deciders probably express in that manner, because the nature of their dominant function is to justify and explain. If Jung said he was T dominant – and he said so in interviews – then I find it problematic to question his views and claim to know him better than he did. Some believe he was not explicit enough, but in that case, I can make as strong a case for INTP as other third parties do for INTJ or INFJ (Títi: 122-123). And it strikes me as odd that, despite being considered unconscious, the shadow functions seem to be so well developed that they can subvert the dominant personality, exactly then when a person is quietly writing in a concentrated conscious state. If it is that easy for the dominant personality to be set aside, what is the use of even talking about personality types? Maybe, instead of blaming Jung’s inner senex for messing up his writing, let’s accept that Jung was not an INTJ, and that Hunziker interprets Jung’s writing as ‘tortured’, because he is a different type.
Freudian value judgments
Even if they are not the same thing, value-based justification (the ‘feeling’ function) needs emotions to ‘tell’ us what is friendly or dangerous and how our Self feels about that, which is very valuable knowledge (cognition) to have. Value judgments, like “critical”, “bad’, “good” are therefore tools of the F-function, no differently than “truth” is for the T-function. So, my problem with the archetypal stack is the use of such value-judgments. Jung described archetypes as dark in the sense of obscure, because even if we recognize their motifs, they cannot be described or consciously shared. We perceive them, maybe as a ‘sense of dread’ or aversion, which we have no words for, and the moment we pick a word to describe it, we are engaging our rational functions (we assign a value judgment). But each type picks the words that makes sense to their inner Self. For is it really the case that the conscious personality of people is all friendly and nice and uncritical and that a subversive shadow is needed to change that? In fact, I have yet to meet a dominant T who is not critical, because the T-function could not ‘function’ if it were not critical, because it has to compare data and eliminate; that is its function.
Unconscious tendencies are experienced as problematic or dark because they (as Beebe says) are not what our ego identifies with (Beebe:122). But our ego has an idealized picture of itself; it judges, because it lives in the conscious and shared world, which also means it has picked up the values of the culture it exists in. For Fs, their relationship with the whole range of emotions is intimate, but Ts rely more on learned knowledge of what are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotions, which they might prefer to project onto their shadow, because their ego feels uncomfortable with it. And to my ears that sounds way too Freudian. Freud’s at one time very popular theory assigned all impulses that were considered shameful as driven from the unconscious, and in doing so he took away the guilt and responsibility for these impulses. For Hunziker to say that Jung’s writing is not a product of his conscious personality (at least not completely) is similar to Freud saying that your marriage cannot make you totally happy, even if you say so, because your unconscious Oedipus has to be somewhere. We need to remember that function theory is not dependent on whether we consider emotions positive or negative, only on that they exist and rule our decisions, regardless of what is socially acceptable at any one time. I am not saying Beebe’s theory was written for that reason; nor was, of course, Freud’s. As Jung turned away from Freud, because he could not accept such a theory, so I cannot accept a theory that introduces negative value-judgments to declare aspects of people’s personality as subversive, while the beauty of Jung’s theory of psychological type is that it is judgment-free. To conclude then, I think that the “eight-function” theory overcomplicates things in a bid to make a perfect analytical (T) model. For me, all eight are potentially present in all of us, but not as separate components, because the functions are the way we deal with information. And as long as we are different types, no one judgment can be used to describe all of us.
Thank you for reading.
References: Beebe, John, 2017. Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type; The reservoir of consciousness. Routledge, London and New York. Hunziker, Mark, 2017. Depth Typology; C. G. Jung, Isabel Myers, John Beebe and the Guide Map to Becoming Who We Are, Write Way Publishing Company. Títi, Nōnen, 2017. Homological Composition; a philosophical perspective, N Títi Publishing.
Why We Don’t All Like the Same Books
Why do we go around saying that one or another book “is good”, “is fascinating”, “is realistic”, or, alternatively, “is stupid”, “is simplistic” or “is not proper literature”? Why do we express our opinion about certain genres of books as if they are factual?
I am not talking about books that can justifiably be labelled “not very good”, because they have problems with grammar, punctuation, cohesion, pace, tone and characterization – problems related to the ability to use language or the craft of writing itself – which are somewhat objective measurements.
I am talking about our assumption that, despite referring to different genres and believing that “all people are unique”, we can somehow judge the quality of a story according to its content.
For example, fans of science fiction, especially hard science fiction, tend to dismiss everything that has a sense of magic as “unrealistic”, while their own books tend to be dismissed as having “cardboard characters”; many intellectual readers have a habit of calling action or romance stories “simple” or “stupid”, while others believe that books that focus on dialogue are “just talk and not story” or characters are “not really human” if they lack the expected desire for sex or adventure. And many still believe that a story that is not filled with a lot of high-brow words is “not literature”.
In other words, we assume that “a good book” must comply with our personal sense of reality, human nature and importance.
In short, we tend to believe that our picture of the world is the only correct picture, because we have lived with that picture our entire life, and we will righteously dismiss the others as “wrong”.
Worse than that, we tend to judge not only the book, but its writer and the readers of those books according to the same standards, so that we might think that people who read ‘simple’ stories are simple people.
But people are not all alike – and they are not all unique either – so that the attraction we feel towards certain genres of books (and characters) are a direct result of our inborn differences. These differences come in types that are like “genres” of books, while each person is as unique as different books are.
Now, it turns out that people of the same type tend to like similar books or contents.
For example, those “hard science fiction” readers I mentioned above, are usually people who are themselves quite technical and much better at math or computers than they are at dealing with people. This is why their characters tend to be a bit flat in the eyes of those people who tend to be naturally empathic, and whose deep (and sometimes dark) characters and their relationships are prominent in their stories, while they tend to brush over the technology. Whether as readers or writers, both might like science fiction, because their attention is not on today, but on what they imagine to be possible in the future, yet they emphasize either the technology or the people.
You could say these “future-people” are either “data-people” or “people-people”.
Alternatively, people who are naturally practical and who live for the here-and-now are not usually very much interested in stories that take either science and technology or human nature to the far reaches of the possible. They prefer stories they can relate to, like family or animal stories, action, adventure and they might read historical novels or biographies. We’ll name them “today-people”, and they also come in two types: “data-people” and “people-people”.
So now we have four groups of people, and each naturally feels more at home with some genres and not with others, although there is no clear boundary.
However, contrary to the common belief, fantasy does not belong with the “future-people”. Fantasy has many facets; it can focus on adventure, on people or on magic, each of which will attract different readers.
“Today-people” tend to accept the facts of the (fantasy) story as real for the duration of the book. They don’t care whether it is realistic or possible in the future; they accept the facts of the fiction and they enjoy the story exactly because it is intangible – because the story allows them to step out of their real world for a little bit. For example, they accept that the hero can fly.
“Future-people” are forever imagining what the future might look like, so that they will take the ‘facts’ of today or of science, and they create the fiction from those facts. They enjoy the fantasy, because it gives them new ideas. They might contemplate how people could fly in the future and use that as a basis for a new story or invention.
In this way, different genres are naturally attractive to different ‘genres’ of people and instead of dismiss books that don’t match our own nature, we might try and learn something about each other if we get a little bit brave and try something different for a change. The great thing about fiction is that it allows us to step into the mind (the perspective) of those different people for a little bit.
And this wonderful little book shop is the perfect place to give it a try.
Of course, these types of personalities are not really known by the names I gave them in this post. They are known by letter indicators, and instead of “genres’, I have used musical styles to explain those differences in my non-fiction books.
Thank you for reading.
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – March 25, 2014 – N Títi Publishing is looking for contributions for a proposed poetry anthology, Sprung from the Heart, written by young people (of all ages) dealing with bullying, eating disorders, obesity or Diabetes Mellitus.
We aim to publish the anthology in conjunction with the book Soup and Bread by Nōnen Títi later this year, so that the words that spring directly from the hearts of those who feel different or alone and which is so often naturally translated into poems, may supply real examples to support those expressed by the fictional characters of the book.
Our goal is to collect maybe thirty poems and make them into an eBook. Contributors will get a free copy and depending on interest and anticipated costs, we may also produce it in print.
We do reserve the right to reject submissions and for legal reasons we will not accept potentially offensive material, so that it may be better not to include names of others (or schools) to begin with.
We do not judge quality. You don't have to be a poet to contribute and there is no required format - just keep the size to a limit that can fit on one page.
You can write and submit your poem under a pseudonym, but we will need a real email address, which will be kept totally confidential, for reasons of editing and to send you your free eBook.
Additionally, we would be interested in submissions for the front cover. Obviously we can pick only one of those, but every person who submits will still get a free eBook. These submissions, if digital, have to be in a high resolution JPEG or PDF. If hand drawn or painted, it needs to be scanned at 400 DPI and remember that pale colours (such as water colours) don't scan well - so nice and vibrant is best.
For the dimensions, keep space for the title and a name and allow some space to bleed. Also remember that the image has to be clear when scaled down on a website.
The writer/artist gives N Títi Publishing permission for inclusion of their work into this anthology only, but all other rights remain with you. N Títi Publishing cannot afford to pay contributors for their work.
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