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JUST DRIVE (Or How To Live With Your Muse)

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In the background plays Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic by The Police . . .

Computer charged? Check. Writing program updated? Check. Note pads, pens, warm body in chair? Check. Muse?  . . . Muse?  . . . Ah, hell. Where is the Muse?

Though I’ve tried before to (write it)

Of the feelings I have  . . . in my heart

Every time that I come near . . .

I just lose my nerve as I’ve done from the start”  

The day yawns ahead, hours to write words—new words, not revisions—that will finally forward my work-in-progress. Today, time is literally on my side, but ah, erm, the Muse isn’t.

Okay, well, fine. Shoulders back, deep breath. I can do this. I reposition my keyboard, swipe an imaginary speck from the monitor, refrain from checking emails, then straighten my collection of note pads and pick up my pen. Clickit-clickit-clickit. I fidget with the plunger, watching the ballpoint tip thrust and retract, then sigh and write a shopping list for dinner.

There. I draw a box around the list to remind me this is a real life note. Burdens are lifted. Time to push through. The mind is now open (for business). I’m ready! I look to my screen; the curser winks from the blank page. I frown. Is it . . . taunting me? I write three sentences and reject them all. I rewrite the same first sentence and spin it five different ways. Blech. 2 hours wasted. I move the keyboard aside and bang my head on the desk. I can’t do this alone. I need my muse.

But my silent fears have gripped 

Long before I reach the (pen)

Long before my tongue has tripped me

Must I always be alone?

For most writers, summoning the muse on demand is an act of futility. Mine manifests in several versions, my favorite is an elusive purple dragon named Zebedee. Zeb (for short) is a willful, easily distracted, adventure seeking, magical being. On his spiny back, my imagination soars.

And today he’s a no show. #LazyMuse. I grab my shopping list and head for the car. May as well get something productive done. As I travel across town, my consciousness is occupied with the drive, a mundane task I settle into with ease. The road rolls out before me, the traffic hums, and my tangled spirit unwinds. I sigh, exhaling the morning’s angst, then inhale the sugary/tart scent of grape Koolaid that is Zeb’s particular aroma.

“I like the way the snow drifts,” he says from the passenger seat. His eyes whirl like multi-colored pinwheels on a summer day. “You know that scene you were working on? I think you should try this . . .” he says, then spouts the most perfect opening line—and that is the beauty of the muse. Because even though we think they aren’t listening while we struggle for solutions or perfect phrasing, they are. (See Lara Schiffbauer’s incredible post on How Your Intuition Works.)

Every little thing (Zeb) does is magic. 

The intuition process is magic—even if it isn’t always timely. The muse has absolutely no appropriate sense of time.

“Now? You show up now when I can’t write anything down?” I pray for a red light and begin multi-tasking—one hand grips the wheel while the other gropes blindly in my purse. His golden words become a mantra on my tongue, and my inner voice frets—Don’t forget. Don’t forget. Where the hell is that mini-recorder? Don’t forget. 

“It was too crowded before,” Zeb complains. “When you weren’t thinking about house chores, you were trying to tell me what to do again. You know I don’t like that. Besides, I always enjoy an open road.” He dug in the center console between the seats. “I’m hungry. You got any cat treats in here?”

“Um, a half-eaten a protein bar—maybe.” I stop at a red light, locate my recorder, and begin chattering at it like a cop on a blown stake-out.

Zeb’s spikes droop. The magic of sudden inspiration slips sideways. I hit pause and set the recorder down. You never, never upset/ignore the muse, or they go away—besides I like Zeb.

“Fine. I’ll take you for . . .” I look around for ideas for which to bribe a petulant dragon.

“Culver’s flavor of the day is Kit Kat Swirl,” he offers, perking up.

An inelegant snort escapes my lips. “Forget it—that was a disaster last time. You melted all of the ice cream in the store, and the little kids cried until you gave them rides.” Who can be sad over ice cream when you’re sailing on the back of a dragon?

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Zeb began drooping again. “I’ll buy you popcorn kernels at the store,”  I decide, and resolve to keep cat treats in the car—though, watching him eat the kernels is fun. They pop on his tongue and he giggles (a dragon’s palate is very ticklish.) Have you ever heard a muse giggle? Close your eyes and imagine the chiming of silvered raindrops on a crystal xylophone. My muse’s laughter evokes the music in my soul. Want to find the coveted writing zone? Have fun with your muse.

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Zeb counter-negotiates. “Can I roll the window down?”

“It’s seven degrees!”

He opens his mouth and huffs. The car becomes an instant sauna.

Every little thing (Zeb) does

“Fine! Fine. But you are going to give me some good stuff to write after all this.”

“Of course. All you had to do was ask,” he replies.

The car behind us honks and I jump. The light is green and the other lanes have already begun moving ahead. Zeb chuckles and I give him a disapproving glare.

“Just drive,” he snickers, and sticks his head into the wind. I focus on the road.

Open road. Open mind. I am at peace and, with that, ideas flow like an open tap. I sneak a look at Zeb, his eyes are half-mast, his long, pink tongue dangles from his wide, crocodilian smile. My muse is happiest with simple pleasures. And if he’s happy, so am I.

Every little thing, every little thing,

Every little thing (Zeb) does

Magic, magic, magic, magic, magic

What are the roadblocks to your creativity? How do you overcome them?

A big thank you to the wonderful writers here at Hugs & Chocolate! The opportunity to guest post while Heather works on her upcoming release for Pretty Dark Nothing is both an honor and a privilege. I love all of your wisdom and look forward to getting to know you better. <hugs> D.

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D. D. Falvo resides in the Midwestern United States, inhabiting a 100-year-old house with her best friend/husband, two daughters, a sassy cat, and the ghost of a stubborn Irish setter. She was captured and released by faeries as child and is still seeking a way back. Currently, she spends her time writing the fantasy epic StarDust and adopting stray dragons. You can connect with D through TwitterFacebook, Goodreads, or on her website.

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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ride the Dragon

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

~ Hunter S. Thompson

” If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage.”

—Cynthia Ozick

Last month, I shared with you my perspective about fear and finding ways to tame it. I tried, really hard, to present something else for today’s post. As you can see I lost that struggle.

I’m facing a whole new set of fears as I prepare my baby to venture out in the new world. I mean, complete strangers, not to mention family and friends, will have the opportunity to read it. Will they cry where I cried as I wrote it, and even now as I make it something better? Will it inspire? When the last page has been turned, will the reader be reluctant to put it down and re-enter the real world?

My dragon’s eyes glitter from the shadows, hungry. I hear its chains clink,feel the warm drafts as it flutters its wings. My dragon is restless.

No one is fearless. Even the most heroic characters in books have fears, if the writing’s good. As I muse on this subject, it occurs to me that the most inspiring and crazy people who I love, admire, and hope to emulate, went beyond taming their fears and relegating them to stay put and behave themselves.

No, they ride that baby and it’s beautiful.

Why would they do such a thing? It’s dizzy, up there in the sky. And I think of Eragon’s first ride on Saphira. Her scales cut his hands and legs so that they resembled nothing more than overcooked spaghetti. He didn’t quit after that. No, he loved it and knew it needed to be done. Not only that, his wise old friend made him a proper saddle and riding gear.

What does it take to ride the dragon?

1. Love/Need.

If you’re here, this is no doubt inherent to who you are as a writer. If I go to bed at night without writing a solitary word or complete a few pages of edits, I can’t sleep. Being a chronic insomniac anyway, that means I’m up at two in the morning banging my head on my laptop. It goes beyond passion, it’s something I need to do to prosper as a fully integrated writer and human being. I may not save the world, but I save my sanity, and that’s good news for my family.

2. Proper Gear

This goes beyond safety requirements, like learning the craft and putting your butt in the chair/saddle everyday. Knowledge of the right tools to use is as important as the chaps Eragon wore to protect his thighs. We are creatives, we must have vision. We need to see the exotic lands in the distance, navigate the currents, be prepared for occasional cloud cover.

Passion, invention, intuition, and risk-taking are not just the preemptives to far- sightedness, but a kaleidoscope that can turn our stories on their heads.

Why would we want to use our fear to take flight, admire its wingspan, and perhaps perform the occasional barrel roll?

When we take Mr. Thompson’s advice, we find release. Catharsis is a beautiful thing. Our imaginations disclose unmarked territories and crazy, fun stories that mean something. The dragon won’t let us tell anything but the truth and can be counted on to expose our soft underbelly.

As a reader, I know when the author has achieved this. You know, too. The story stays with you and brightens some untold corner of the psyche, like a talisman. As a writer, we dissect the characters, dialogue, setting, etc. It’s more elusive than that. It’s the courage it took to tell that particular tale.

There will be scars, but like the stretch marks on a mother’s belly, they’re battle wounds we can be proud of.

I have the opportunity to take the ride of my life, one of many, I hope. I’m going to do this, that’s my promise to you. As I put the shine on my debut novel, I commit myself to courage. I’m no hero, but I see the mountains and the pitfalls in the distance. The price is well worth the opportunity to gaze upon my dreams and invite others to take the ride.

Are you coming with me? I sure would love the company.

*image by Ruth Tay via inheritance.wikia.com

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Inspiration, Publishing

 

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