That Moment…

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I dunno about you, fellow writers, but there are days–okay, whole weeks, months, and even years–when the writing doesn’t flow. It’s a strain and a slog, and each sentence struggles to be born like a breach baby. Sometimes, for all that, the results are pretty damn good. LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH was frequently that way. When I was writing it, under deadline and distracted by a shit-ton of personal crap, there were days I hated my job and had to rely on craft rather than inspiration, though I still feel it’s the best work I’ve ever done.

But man, the days when it comes easy are what it’s all about.

For the first time in months, I had a day like that yesterday. I’d fought to eke out a single paragraph a day for weeks, and suddenly, boom, five pages in an hour. Five good pages; pages that advanced the story and brought depth and poignancy to the characters. Fuck, that feels good. I wish all days could be like that.  But I’ll take them when they come.

Writing is like sex… in a very weird way

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I was talking to my friend BB the other day, as we were huddled over our laptops trying to write our books. And I asked him, “Hey, do you ever get that thing where, after you write a really great couple of sentences, you feel like you have to pull back, look away, focus on something else for a few seconds even though you’ve suddenly gotten into the flow better than ever?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Absolutely.”

“It’s like sex,” I mused. “Like, you’re getting too close to your orgasm too quickly, and you have to hold back and not blow your wad, as it were.”

“We guys are very familiar with this phenomenon,” BB assured me dryly.

I still find it weird. Why, just when I’m grooving, do I suddenly need to check Facebook, feed the cat, do a load of laundry? Maybe it’s a fear of getting lost in that flow. Maybe it’s too exhilarating. Or maybe it’s simpler than that, and inspiration only comes out in little puffs at a time, especially these days when we’re all so used to shattered concentration, multitasking on multiple screens. I don’t remember anymore if I used to be able to cruise along in the flow, be carried away rather than resisting. The internet and its distractions have been a part of my experience too long.

For now, I’ll take the little puffs of inspiration, and hope they lead to a satisfying climax in the end.

The Muse–Fact or Fiction?

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought to whether The Muse™ is a real thing; a little fairy in diaphanous Grecian garb who plunks herself down on your shoulder and dictates all your best ideas while you loll, helpless and half-conscious, like some Delphic oracle mad on fumes from the underworld.  Or perhaps it’s just a prosaic source of prose that emanates from some intuitive area of the mind we can only see with a stealthy peek out of the corner of our consciousness.

Thalia, Muse of Comedy

Certainly, ideas do seem to pop out of the ether, whether that be ethylene-induced, absinthe-derived, or pulled right out of the proverbial arse.  I do experience that “it came to me in the shower” phenomenon so many writers describe.  (Which may suggest the muse is a bit of a perv.)  Characters, plot points, jokes and denouements all pop out on the page without me deciding anything.  Now, far smarter folk than I have investigated this topic exhaustively, though I don’t think I’ve heard a comprehensive explanation that quite covers it for me.

Product of the unconscious mind? Sure, I can get with that. But until philosophers and neuroscientists map that out, we have no idea how that works or even what to do with that information.

So shall we go with Grecian demigoddesses, metaphorical though they be?  Why not.

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