The Writing Moment

“You overthink things,” the muses said.


“Don’t. Trust us. Write and enjoy yourself.”

The writer sniffed, a response delivered with a tincture of hurt indignation. “Easy for you to say.”

A muse sighed. “Easier for you to do, if you’ll let yourself.”

Sure, the writer thought. Sure.

The Mt Tam Dream

Mount Tam, full name, Mount Tamalpais, is part of the Marin Hills. Twenty-six hundred feet high, it won’t awe with its rise about the land the way that Mounts Hood and Shasta do, or McLaughlin. I knew abut it from living in the SF Bay area and Peninsula for fourteen years. We’d read about it, and visited twice, maybe three times, during our local explorations.

Didn’t stop me from dreaming about it. First came name confusion. I was being told to go to Mt. Tam. Mt. Tam? Yes, Mt. Tam. We exercised some Laurel & Hardy exchanges about what was being said. I’d quickly reached the point where I understood that I was being told to go to Mt. Tam. My point, which I struggled to convey with little humor, was, why do I need to go to Mt. Tam? But they — the unseen folks I was speaking to, but who sounded and seemed male — were fixated on ensuring that I understood the place’s name without clarifying why going there was important. The back and forth eventually felt as painful as a bad tooth.

They gradually led me to believe there is something in Mt. Tam, the something never being explained, continuing my stretch of exasperation. I’m supposed to go to Mt. Tam to get something that’s there that I’ll know what it is when I get there. Seems significantly vague.

Then, going over the dream, I wonder, was Mt. Tam a literal destination being directed to me from my dream masters or a metaphor for matters churning through my subconscious? Bonus discussion points, for me, anyway: how much of this dream was influenced by The Overstory, as I’m currently reading that. For that matter, how much is generated from wrestling with the novel in progress?

Flippin’ the Script

With writing, I’m often stymied as I await the muses’ participation. These past two weeks, I’ve turned it around on them. Writing steadily, finding the path each morning, I keep the final destination in mind. Quiet and watchful, the muses gather around me. “Where you going with this?” they keep asking.

Chuckling, I tell them, “You’ll have to wait and see.”

It’s nice making them wait to see what happens next. I feel like the novel in progress in almost at an end (draft five). I edit and revise as I write, grinding down the story, molding and shaping it. Not to jinx anything, but I have a good rhythm formed for now, generally writing a bit, then going off, reading, doing housework or other things, then returning to write more, then editing. For now, I’m focused on finishing this draft. In the meanwhile, a solid grasp of what I’m going to do in the next editing stage has crystalized.

It’s been thirteen months since I began writing this one. Writing it required process changes driven by social distancing and coffee shop shutdowns. I used to leave the house, walk to get into the writing mode, then enter a coffee house, sit with my laptop, and do the deed. I’ve had to adjust. That was a surprising challenge. I’m pleased (but anxious) that I could adjust.

Pleased and anxious remains the watch words for writing this. I worry and fret, then tell myself not to worry and fret, just write, but yet, worry and fret, hunting through words, finding my way. It’s surprising to see that I’m at five hundred and ten Word pages, 145K words. I’ve already done some cutting but more is due once the ending is reached.

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

The Muses Dream

Oh, what a writing dream. It was a dark venue, inside somewhere. Lights were small and focused. I could see myself off to one side with a notebook and pen at a table. I was writing, but the book’s actions were playing out on a stage as I wrote. I appeared to be a giant beside it. What I wrote surprised. I’d been thinking about the novel in progress as I drifted to sleep and scenes that were to come. In the dream, though, things took a sharp turn. Little mischievous creatures took over. Pale white, short and squat, they were sexless, with no eyes and big smiles. Then I realized in the dream, “There are four of them?” I was trying to fit four into the scheme. Awakening, I thought about this, and then discovered I was dreaming about thinking about the dream, experiencing it as a dream in a dream, prompting thoughts of nesting dolls. Another voice announced with a chortle, “That’s the muses having fun.” Then I really awoke, wondering, WTH?

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