As A Muse Will

I’d come in, fired up the ‘putin’ machine (no, not the one that make everything that comes out look or sound like Putin), had my coffee, and settled in to write. Problem was that I didn’t know what to write.

In the course of revising April Showers 1921, I added another layer. It’s worked well. I was ready to end that layer. I didn’t know how. I’d been thinking about it but nothing came to me.

And then, hands on keyboard, the muse arrived and conducted, as a muse will. A scene flashed on my mind’s edge. Words arrived. I typed. The scene took off, becoming multiple scenes and dialogue, becoming a chapter. Walking away from it much satisfied with the results, I continued thinking about it as I conducted my post-writing walking review, and the next pieces came to me. Arriving yesterday and setting up, I took up with that, and had more terrific results. Then, today — yep, again, for a hat trick.

It was an intense and productive three days. I feel like I’m just coming back up for air.

I know it’s not a muse, but deep recesses in my mind shooting neurons at mental walls until something sticks and some sort of Jackson Pollack-like story ideas gel. It’s easier, simpler, and more elegant to just attribute it to the muse, though.

Besides, you never know. If it is a muse, sure as hell don’t want pull a Joey Tribbiani* and upset them.

Done writing like crazy for at least one more day. Cheers

* If you need the explanation…

Joey Tribbiani was a Friends character played by actor Matt LeBlanc. (Friends was a U.S. television sitcom on NBC last century.) Joey was an actor who achieved success on a daytime television soap opera. During an interview, Joey claimed that he wrote most of his own lines. The writer wasn’t happy and promptly killed the character.

The end.

 

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Saturday’s Theme Music

After a night of interesting dreams – no family, games or military, but soup, spilling, and reach – I awoke and turned to thinking about the novel-in-progress. I focused on where I’d stopped yesterday, conducting a what’s-next exercise. Then I catapulted into more generalities before spinning the wheel to think about the greater story.

The muses were present and engaged, so it was a comfortable exercise. One said, “We can do this,” and another said, “I know we can.” “Yes, we can,” a third said.

That’s when I realized that they were channeling a 1973 Pointer Sisters song, “Yes We Can Can”. Although mostly about politics, change, and unity, it’s a powerful, energetic song about trying and confidence, too.

We got to iron out our problems
and iron out our quarrels
and try to live as brothers.
And try to find peace within
without stepping on one another.
And do respect the women of the world.
Remember you all have mothers.

Read more: The Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can Can Lyrics | 

Nineteen seventy-three. It was yesterday, and faraway. Here we are, dealing with madness in the White House, and setting up for more military conflict in the Middle-East. You know, because bombing other lands has all gone sooo well.

Beep…beep…beep

That’s the sound of me backing up. It annoys many others in the coffee shop when I back up when I’m writing. “Can you stop beeping?” they shout. “I’m on my cell and I can’t hear myself think.”

Sorry.

I’m backing up from yesterday’s writing. Oh, what a miserable day. I don’t know where the muses were, but they weren’t here. Did they stage a walk-out? Maybe. Don’t know.

I knew I had to make some links, slow down and let the story breathe, to improve the novel. That’s what I was trying to do. After a fitful session, I’d written a lot but I felt like it was horrible. I didn’t like it.

The muses agreed this morning. As soon as I awoke and finished thinking about my dreams (more family and dogs – WTH?), a muse rep said, “You know that stuff that you wrote yesterday?”

“Yes.”

“Well, it’s terrible.”

“I — ”

“It muddies the flow and does nothing for the pacing or coherency.”

“Yeah, I — ”

“This is what you need to do instead. First, delete all of that crap.”

“Crap is a little harsh, don’t yo — ”

“And then, this is what you write.” He proceeded to tell me.

I thought the proposal over. It was a lot better, and made more sense. I nodded. “Okay, I will. Thanks.”

My thanks went to empty air. The muse was gone. Guess they were off to help some other poor writer.

Got my coffee and took my first gulp of the blessed hot, dark, bitter brew. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Don’t Anger the Muses

I love it when I get in here to write, and I seem to know exactly where to begin and what to type. Little thinking is demanded; it’s just go, go, go. 

I know it’s not from ‘nowhere’ or some mysterious regions of my brain, or a gift from the muses. Truthfully, I’m agnostic. I’m not going to be categorical and say that it isn’t the muses. Maybe it is. Don’t want to outrage them by denigrating their contribution, you know. If it is due to the muses and they cut me off, I’d be bereft.

In my defense, I know that I stopped in the middle of a scene yesterday. I was following a trend. Once I’d shut down and was walking, thoughts arrived about what to do. Walking frequently acts as a laxative on my thinking, out there, going somewhere that only requires me to think, left, right, left, right — which out for the bus — permits to me to think.

I’d not been planning my thoughts and wasn’t actively thinking about the novel in specific ways. It was more a part of multi-streaming that I often do, especially while walking, surfing a little of one before jumping to another. This idea popped up, found its roots, and grew. More grew, developing new angles, as I showered and shaved this morning.

I guess it’s probable that I was thinking, but the muses were directing the streams and deciding what came to what. How’s that for a compromise?

Got my hot coffee. I’m in my chair. Time to write again, at least one more time.

 

One Typo

I was writing several days ago, working on the novel in progress, April Showers 1921. I’d dream the novel, seeing the cover and knowing the main characters and a lot of story. Yet I was struggling to find and fulfill the potential the dream had shown the novel to have.

I plugged on, though, searching, testing, writing, and then tossing some of it away, trying to find the right path. Completing a scene, I went back over it, making minor changes. I uncovered a typo, an ess attached to a word, changing the noun from singular to plural. While laughing at the images that plural conjured, I deleted the letter, but then reconsidered what the plural could mean to the story. Within a few seconds, that extra letter and the shift from singular to plural opened up a new range of ideas. I went with it.

Results surprised me. That typo bloomed like algae, taking over that scene, but also illuminating masses of the underlying concept. The typo changed the main character’s interactions with others and shifted the entire story by several degrees. The typo opened unexpected mind streams. I surfed into new directions again and again, reacting with surprise, but also with satisfaction that this novel was becoming something different than how it’d been going. All of this is what causes fiction writing to be so engaging and entertaining for me.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Cliffhanger

I worry, is there too much dialogue? Is the story too obtuse? Is it too, is it too…arg.

I try to follow the muses as they flash their lights and urge me forward into the foggy writing night and a cocoon of dark imagery. Anxiety ripples through my torso. I want to ask the muses if they’re sure that this is the way, but you know that you dare not question the muses.

Peeking to either side to see what else could be there can’t be resisted but the muses have led me into a precarious wasteland. I feel like cliffs abut the path, and the path is growing narrow and precarious. I follow but I struggle with the catch the muses have clamped on me, a catch almost as beautiful as Catch-22‘s catch. My catch (for the characters) is that they need to remember to know what to do but if they remember, they can be tracked and dusted. (Dusted will be explained at another time, but use your imagination.)

Now all those characters are remembering and the protagonist, Anders, is freaking out, because he’s starting to remember, despite efforts not to remember, what happens when you’re dusted, and what this is all about. The others are coming, the trap is closing, and then, ‘lo, here’s a new fucking group running toward him from the opposite direction.

The muses gave no warning about them. In a panic, I wonder, who are they? What’s Anders going to do now? He was trying to ditch Jazmine and Petty because he remembers with growing certainty that remembering in one person is reinforced in another — memories beget memories — and that’s not good for here and now.

Pooh-poohing my worries, the muses wave their dainty fingers, dismissing my concerns. “We’re stopping for today,” they inform me. I picture them nibbling chocolate truffles. “We’ll pick up here tomorrow.”

It feels like, you know, I watched Avengers: Endgame, and here I am, waiting to see what happens. It feels like I’m watching Game of Thrones, waiting to be see the next death, the next twist.

Cliffhangers. Fun to watch, harder to write when the muses are guiding you on an organic writing trip.

Good day of writing like crazy in one sense, cause, hey, progress. We cheer progress. Mystifying day in another sense because of the questions created by this cliffhanger and the writer’s angst that it enjoins.

What happens next? Well, I go home to wait and see.

Wobble Like Crazy

I’m back in the writing space following some unpleasant medical issues. In the last three days, I’ve averaged two thousand words each. It’s delicious to feel like I’m moving forward, no matter how word counts fall upon the writing spectrum in regards to their importance. I didn’t plan any word counts but they’re proof of something happening, a minor validation that I’ve been doing more than daydreaming.

After some arguing with the muses, me interrogating them to explain every thread, decision, and insight, and them laughing at me, I followed their instructions to, “Just write.” Some of the writing could be permanent but some of it might be delicately sculpted away or blown away with heavy explosives. Doesn’t matter. What I’ve written before during other writing projects may not help me this time. Each time that I write another novel, it’s a new adventure in learning how to be a better writer. I must write to have the material to shape, an interesting cycle. Write, edit, write, re-write, write, revise…where am I?

Well, I’m on the novel-writing spectrum. I slide along, following paths, retracing, forging new paths, falling off cliffs, and climbing back up. So it goes until there’s finally enough coherency for a novel to take shape, and then, finally, enough satisfying story in a reasonable order arrives, and then, at last, I pick a place where it can be comfortably ended with reasonable reward for readers who ventured through my thicket of words.

Can you say run-on?

I’m permitted a cup of coffee a day. I apply my allowance to my writing.

Illness is depressing, not because I have it, but because of its limitations. Bending down to pick up a piece of paper, scratch a cat’s chin, or put on my shoes and socks is slow and tedious and brings a measure of stinging discomfort. Walking remains uncomfortable and difficult, but not impossible. Of course, I have a history of rushing the healing processes. Press on, regardless, right? When I had a broken neck on Okinawa and wore a halo device, I pushed to go back to work and ended up dislodging that metal mother twice, sending me back into hospital. Anyway, I wobble around at a slow and careful pace, watching the ground to find the threads and seeds that the muses leave, then trying to parse their guidance.

Yeah, just write, baby. Stop critiquing, doubting, wondering, fearing, worrying, and questioning. Just get ‘er done. Pitter-patter.

Done writing like crazy for at least one more day. Sloshy, my drain-collection bag resting against my calf, is filled. Time to wobble on and empty him.

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