How I became a creative writer

Immersive storytelling: A portal for Humanity

The clock is ticking on my nightstand. We’ve had random power outages the past couple of months, that justified the presence of a flashlight in the stand’s tiny drawer. A blessing for me, as I can now extend my reading hours as long as I can keep my eyes open.

​My mom gives me an extra ten minutes with the light on after her goodnight kiss. I know she’ll soon come to look at the color of the gap between the floor and the door to make sure I obeyed.

​A few minutes have passed and my awareness increases. I can sense all the little noises in the house, filtering through the walls. The wooden stairs, even though covered by a dusty rug, are my best friends at this time. They warn me with their cracking and the regular banging of the footsteps. It’s time to shut my light off.

​Quickly I put my book under the pillow, breathing as silently as I can. The swishing of the steps gets closer. I wait.

​I’m proud of myself for not getting caught tonight.

​As I slowly open the drawer, a breeze of lavender tickles my nostrils. The tender smell emanates from a small burlap bag full of the dried purple flowers. I brought it home from our last trip to my aunt’s bakery in Provence.

​I grab the lamp torch and cover my head and my book under the blanket. I can barely breathe. I learned to like the suffocating coziness of my improvised refuge. The blessed flashlight uncovers a story on the pages, and I feel myself drifting from my bedroom to the wild outdoors. My body may be in my family’s home, but my mind lies under a tent and cicadas are crackling their wings next to me. Stars whisper constellations’ tales, and I’m reading the murder mystery investigation of my favorite heroin.

My journey as a storyteller started with reading lots and lots of books. I imagined the worlds and characters I was reading about, as an extension of the written words.

​At first, I told stories only to myself, about existential matters and the purpose of humanity. Stories came to me with the winds, thunderstorms and rainbows, the heather’s perfume on a hill, the morning bells of a church, birds’ songs, Ravel’s passionate Bolero, clouds’ shapes and twinkling stars, flowers and butterflies.

​Then I told stories through improvised singing to a sad classmate at the school playground. The wordless songs were pure emotions, pure togetherness with the classmate and a higher level of consciousness: we formed for a moment a trinity of its kind and I was a medium between the other two. Around the same time, I invented stories and games to distract my younger sister from the conflicts at home. Later on, when we shared our bedroom, I made it a point for us to tell each other an improvised tale before going to sleep. I wanted us to build our virtual reality to distance ourselves from the tangible one.

​I underwent my first immersive experience around eight years old. A recording of an abridged version of Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince with sound effects left a strong impression on me and remains an inspiration to this day. From there, a couple of transformative moments occurred before I became a grown-up: An immersive theater representation of The Midsummer Night’s Dream in a marquee tent mesmerized me as a young teen, and the discovery of Puccini’s Tosca in a local theater stirred my guts. They opened my mind to new possibilities.

​Inspired by Salvador Dali, I drew surrealistic landscapes late at night. They were the stories of my unexpressed feelings.

​The first time I got paid for writing was to correct and write the code of rockets’ pilot studies for the French space agency. Not quite the creative and spiritual path I was hoping for. Around that time, I discovered hypnosis and how to transform my mindset through meditation. The gates of my inner world opened. I quit engineering for opera singing. I wanted to change the world with the power of emotions. Singing opera was a language of the heart with my audience, reinforced by music, scenery, character embodiment, and lastly, a storyline.

As a side note, I’ll tell you that it’s not the story that matters to make an opera production successful (to be honest, the libretto is often incoherent or boring). An opera representation’s success really depends on how good storytellers the performing artists are.

​Fast forward to a few years later, I earned a certification in humanist hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming to help myself and others transform their lives. Another few years later, I designed transformative meditations in a multisensory immersive style. And then, my first book The Journey of the Heart, a fiction written as a guide to empowering others to follow their inner calling, was published.

​To me, changing the world means changing the boundaries of our inner worlds.

​Voila, in short, the story of me.

​Now, let me help you transport global audiences to the best version of themselves.

To learn more, visit www.stardustimmersive.com

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Anna Cley

Creative writer, interdisciplinary artist | Immersive storytelling