Monday, June 5, 2017

Musing on the Muse


Writers talk about their muse.  Is that a fancy term for the current inspiration, a tongue in cheek answer to where the ideas are found or a pocket of the unconscious that a writer must learn to be receptive to? 

I have recently said that my muse has led me to writing a larger work (perhaps even a novel).  That may be but it turns out the muse isn’t a powerful engine pulling at me with a tow rope.  The writing has slowed to a crawl with more than a few vacations.  I have a sneaking suspicion that counting on the muse is a new way to be lazy.  I’m disappointed.  My personal fiction of being so inspired that my writing would be easy is just that.  Fiction.  

I think I knew that.  I think I hoped I wouldn’t drift through my days because I had this big project to go to.  Instead I have found myself stargazing.

I have to forgo the sleepy habits. I have to self-monitor my progress.  I have to work at this; I cannot expect any help from the muse unless I’m writing.  Commitment is necessary.  The spark has to meet the right conditions in order to burst into flames.  It’s up to me to figure out the right conditions for my writing.  Then the sparks will fly and the writing heat will warm me. 

I will share a little list of the conditions that I have found to be right in the past.

1.      Blogging, journals and emails.  The condition of warming up to words.

2.      Making notes towards a project.  The capture of the fleeting.

3.      Clustering on the page.  Exploration without expectation.

4.      Actual writing.  Good or bad, putting the words on the page. 

I forget sometimes how exceptional it is when the words flow onto the page almost as fast as I can type.  This might even be fiction as I do forget the effort that actually went into a piece.  The words might flow onto the page but there was brain time involved.  It seems to me that my muse doles things out in tiny increments and expects me to work for them. The muse may well be the offspring of inspiration and sweat. 

 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Tag

This little story has surprised me many times.  It began as a smile of recognition - I read of someone naming their belly pouch 'the Alien'.  That funny start lead to a picture in the mind and that picture lead to my writing this story.  Then I shook my head - Who in the world would read a story like this?  I don't have to market it, I thought.  Then a newsletter of market information arrived and I started submitting it here and there.  It was picked up and it gave me another example of how I am not the best judge of what might be accepted.  Now this little story it is surprising me by the company it is keeping.  Check it out yourself at The Human Touch Journal.  The Tag is on page 98, but type in 48 in the PDF bar to go right to it.  Here is your link - The Tag

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Finch at the Window

This little story has some elements that I enjoyed writing.  The main character is devious but her tricks are about to come undone, or are they?  Down in the Dirt publications have taken three of my stories now and all of them are available to read...Once... you've found my name.  The names are on the left hand side and arranged alphabetically by the last name although the first one is first.  So Liz Betz is after Nancy Lee Bethea and before Robert Beveridge.  A Finch at the Window is waiting for you to read it at
Down in the Dirt

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Haunted


I think I spend too much time being haunted by conversations, mainly my responses.  What I should have said, what I meant.  Like anyone ever has a do-over.  It’s a useless occupation, the situation arose and it went the way it went.  The question was asked and answered.  The opportunity was bungled or handled.  My words were said.  The mistakes were made, the impressions were formed.  It is time to move on. 

However, these hauntings contain potential for story plots.  Or insanity if I continue to overthink the incident!  I’m going to choose story plot.  Here are some steps that have worked for me in the past to move from disturbed to inspired. 

First I will make brief notes, with dates and names of what happened.  These truths are then filed.  I have found that because I have recorded the facts of the matter, I can then move away from further mental review.  It (the disturbance) is ‘put away.’ 

Sometime later, I will be ready to create fiction around the situation.  I will give my feelings to another, or I will create another who thinks and reacts very different than I do and let the incident or something similar happen to them.  I will stretch and exaggerate, I will think of dire results or causes.  I will let the seed from my own world grow in a world of its own.  But unlike the gardener, the seed is not predictable.  The end story may bear little resemblance to the inciting incident. 

It is true, at least sometimes, that the writer writes towards what he knows.  A story can be part of that search.  “To really perform, you have to give yourself over to the fact that you don’t know what you’re creating until you’re done.”

 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Workshop Turnaround


One of the members of our writer’s group is also among the organizers of a local art festival.  She has been a key supporter of the art of the word aka the literary component of the festival.  Many times there has been a known author brought in to present a writer’s workshop and to participate in the literary evening’s ‘open mic’ event.  There are a core group of people that will sign up, faithful workshop attendees, faithful participants that will read their work to the audience be it few or many.  This has been the formula for many years now.  But it isn’t easy.  The authors have to be sought out and booked.  The financial aspects have to be arranged.  The bushes have to be beat so that other people in the community other than our writer’s group will attend.  It’s hard work and it’s harder work to keep it fresh. 

Enter the workshop turn around.  The bushes will be left alone.  The budget will be easy, it will cost nothing.  The attendees will be the faithful ones.  The workshop will be taught by the attendees.  Simply put, the faithful participants of the art festival literary component will set aside the afternoon to do something other than meet as they do for writer’s group where the agenda is to read their current projects and offer suggestions.  We will each be given the chance to present a mini-workshop.  It might be big, it might be small.  It might be original or it might be something off the Web.  No matter, it’s turn-around time.  We can learn from one another and we know stuff that we can share.  I love it.  And if anyone misses the format from other years, where they had the opportunity to attend a workshop, perhaps they will be motivated to get involved in a different way.  Or they can join our group! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New Story at Necessary Fiction

Here's a little story that is my latest online publication.  The good folks at Necessary Fiction gave me a marvelous opportunity to submit a rewrite on this story.  Their editor gifted me with his assessment of the original including where the story strayed from the narrative voice and became didactic.  It was a free writing lesson and apparently this student understood what was meant.  FYI, I had to go to the dictionary to understand didactic.  Yes, I go there often.  Point taken.  Enjoy the story. Thank you Necessary Fiction.  Here's On Behalf of Women.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Word by Word


I sometimes wish that every time I sat down to write that the words would flow effortlessly and be as beautiful as I can make them.  I have had moments like this but far more I have writing projects that were wrenched word by word onto the page.  Those days when my words have balked and stalled and caused me to despair used to be frequent.  I still write slow but I don’t fret as much.  I sometimes have to be satisfied with sentences and paragraphs that I know will not end up on the final draft.  It just is.  I’ve done this before, and I will again and in the end I will be satisfied.  I recognize that word by word is maybe more valuable to a writer than the effortless flow.  Steady work will get me further than any sprint.  I get it.  But I do like the tumble of ideas, the leaping of connections, the phrases that sing, the flow.