Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The gifts of listening, watching; waiting

Ten years ago, I made a bid on an eBay item that would change my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined at the time.

Something within me was strongly drawn to it, though I didn’t yet understand why. It was a portrait of Eva Braun drawn by an artist who never gained acclaim for his work — though his infamous name is branded on history forever. Eva Braun chose to die with him 73 years ago this spring.

That portrait is at the heart of everything that became a part of my latest novel’s story, set largely in the Germany of World War II.

The experience of writing The Munich Girl showed me that, rather than being something I “do”, writing is a process that acts upon me, strengthening my sense of connection with my own wholeness.

My responsibility, I feel, is to listen and watch, rather than impose ideas or plans of my own on what comes forth as a story.

Albert Einstein described the intuitive mind as “a sacred gift” and the rational mind as “a faithful servant.” We have, he said, “created a society that honors the servant, and has forgotten the gift.”

Creative process invites me to find a balance between that intuitive mind, which encounters the unlimited and the unknown, and my rational mind, whose tendency toward structure is what ensures that a story will be cohesive and accessible.

People often hurl themselves at creative process “head first” with the rational mind, trying to force or control things. My experience is that in creative process, intuitive mind is waiting for me to meet it, so that it can help me know and understand in new and wider ways.

Gertrude Stein expressed this beautifully: “You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery.” She gets straight to the heart of what allows writing process to be a revelatory power, and a bestower, rather than a distraction or plaything.

The difference, for me, is a willing surrender into seeking and unknowing, rather than a presumed knowledge of any kind.

I know I’m immersed in that when things begin to strike with notes my inner ear can hear, when my crown and scalp suddenly tingle. But first, I must surrender to a great blankness that can seem as though it will never yield, no matter how I push or try to break through it.

And that is because I’m the one who’s meant to do the yielding, so that intuitive mind can impart its secrets to me.

This was reinforced for me one afternoon while I swam with a friend, and recognized that in order to swim, I must meet the water on its terms. I must yield to and merge with the way it envelops and supports me.

On the pathway that the portrait of Eva Braun opened before me, every aspect of the story in The Munich Girl, every theme, revelation, and scene, came to meet me in a similar way when I was ready to receive it, after I had immersed myself in its atmosphere and waited, listening, watching. Trusting.

Believing that I “know” anything about a story before it has fully shown itself is the only “writer’s block” I’ve ever created for myself. When I yield to and receive what intuitive mind wants to offer in the creative process, I am met by what I’m able to receive and integrate on the deepest levels.

I’ve come to believe that the rational mind serves best when it’s not trying to lead, or force, but to follow, when we’re seeking to discover what we don’t yet know. When we are willing to do that, the revelations that arrive via our intuitive mind will often surprise and delight us, both because they feel so inevitable, and also because they are beyond anything that rational mind, whose scope is confined only to previous experience, could imagine or predict.

The magic in the process is that when we open up to meeting the greater possibilities of what we don’t yet know, we’ll be repeatedly astonished that what comes to meet us is disarmingly precise, unfathomably generous, and remarkably right.

Find more about The Munich Girl at https://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987 .

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Yes! Finally! The Munich Girl

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The Munich Girl is now, at last — really — available to order at Amazon —
and at any bookstore or book-sales outlet where readers prefer to shop.
 
Thank you so much to the readers who have already journeyed through the story and are sending your feedback and response, and to those who are posting your reader reviews and telling others about the book. Author, Eric Mondschein, my special thanks for your review:
 
5.0 out of 5 starsThe Munich Girl is definitely a Keeper!, November 22, 2015
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“The Munich Girl … both a mystery and a love story.  … a woman’s quest to discover why there was a portrait of Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler’s mistress, hanging on the wall in her family’s dining room and just what connection, if any, Braun had with her family.
The story introduces us to Eva Braun and the time just before and during World War II in Germany. But it is also so much more. It is about the human spirit, survival, friendship, love, betrayal, discovery and denial as the reader is taken on a journey through time and place. Ring draws the reader in with her unique ability to bring her characters to life—and compels you to want to get to know them.
Although this is a work of fiction, it is also an historical portrait about real-life characters. Ring paints a mosaic through dialogue and setting that allows for the possibility to imagine that this story just might have taken place.”
And, my gratitude to columnist, reader and reviewer Leslie Handler:
Fiction So Convincing, You’ll Think It’s Real –
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“I knew I was reading fiction, but the read felt so unusually personal that I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe, it was an actual memoir of the author’s mother and her real life relationship with the girlfriend of the world’s most infamous figure.
And then I found out the truth. Phyllis Ring actually owns the real portrait of Eva Braun! A fiction, truly based on facts, Ring’s newest novel is a must read.”
Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War at:


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What secrets does a portrait of Eva Braun hide?

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The Munich Girl –

A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War

Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun.

Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends.

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Eva Braun’s diary, courtesy The National Archives.

The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s.

Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante–and a tyrant’s lover–Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged.

With Hannes’s help, she retraces the lives of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned 16 years (the length of time Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress), but never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions.

EB pix Germany and more 610Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. One of those was the Resistance fighter that Anna’s mother loved, who was involved in a plot to kill Hitler.

As it draws her into the past, Anna’s journey leads her deep into long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her own heart.

It is the path that will help her understand the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.

Find more about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War at:
http://www.amazon.com/Munich-Girl-Novel-Legacies-Outlast/dp/0996546987/


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My side of the contract

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Photo: David Campbell / http://www.GBCTours.com

 

My days, and my mind, are awash in scenes from 75 years ago as I navigate through my current fiction-in-progress.

Once again, I’ve been pondering that curious energetic contrast between those I see everywhere talking on phones and looking at their screens, and the mood of a time when people actually left a room when someone received a call, as a sign of respect and courtesy. EB pix Germany and more 499

No one could have imagined overhearing something so private — so singular, even. Because people only used a telephone when what they needed to share was of significance. I imagine people back then would have found it hard to imagine using one to distract yourself, or to try not to be alone with your own company. 

How can I miss a time I was never actually part of? And yet, I do; my soul does.

I love to linger in its slower, gentler rhythms as I attempt to shape story out of what I encounter within history and my self. I imagine many writers of historic fiction and nonfiction must do the same.

I appreciate anew the thoughts novelist Elizabeth Gilbert shared in an interview with Karen Bouris in Original Story:

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

“I think creativity is entirely a spiritual practice. It has defined my entire life to think of it that way. When I hear the way some people speak about their work, people who are in creative fields who either attack themselves, or attack their work, or treat it as a burden rather than a blessing, or treat it as something that needs to be fought and defeated and beaten. . . . There is a war that people go to with their creative path that is very unfamiliar to me. To me, it feels like a holy calling and one that I am grateful for.

… I was given a contract, and the contract is: ‘We are not going to tell you why, but we gave you this capacity. Your side of the contract is that you must devote yourself to this in the highest possible manner, you must approach it with the greatest respect, and you must give your whole self to this. And then we will work with you on making progress.’ That’s sort of what it feels like for me.”

The entire interview can be seen at http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?sid=413