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Friday, October 7, 2016

Mental Can Openers and Writer's Hash: Calliope Goes Coach and Gets Mugged


Calliope Goes Coach and Gets Mugged

           Many writers start with high energy and expectations.  Me?  I expected the nine muses to jet in, first class, and cover me with their “creativity glitter” until I glowed.  Then, each having anointed a typing finger, I’d approach the artist’s grotto.  I’d wait for that perfect moment to manifest.  And in that consecrated instant when I enter the artist’s sanctum, hands lifted in a cross between a surgeon and a high priest, they’d break out in arias.  The aureole of inspiration crowning me, a papal quiescence would waft over the room like incense.  The royal “We” would approach the waiting dais and settle over the “ark of the keyboard.”  The world, hushed and trembling, would await those first brilliant and enlightened words.  By page two, readers’ tears have formed and hearts are crying out...  “More, give us more.”  (This Walter Mitty moment brought to you by Tide; the detergent that cares.)

            Eight months later, it’s force yourself up at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m.  Unshaven in a torn tee-shirt and a dog-chewed pair of slippers, I shuffle into the kitchen.  With a cup of yesterday’s nuked coffee, complete with creamer marching south faster than an outflanked confederate regiment, I drag myself to the keyboard because I can’t put off the deadline any longer.  I’d gladly welcome inspiration – only now Calliope looks like she was mugged and drugged in an L.A. bus depot.  And the last time inspiration was sighted, she was holding a number card and being photographed face-on and profile, for a “Wanted” poster.
            Oh.  But first, the writer’s mandatory, and near-pointless, post on Facebook to alert the 13 people left who haven’t de-friended me that I’m still breathing – and typing on the 10th attempt to stitch together and give life to some corpse of a story.  And I mustn’t forget to acknowledge that two-star reviewer that says he or she would have given it one star, but they got the book for free. 
Amazon
            Yeah, that book.  The one the crowds would cry out for and weep over.  Months out, it’s sold a whopping 37 copies.  After banking fees, you’re sitting atop of 56 cool American simoleons.  All the money you need to live on – if you only live another three days and let the dogs starve.  Every writer’s been there and felt that. 
            So, how do you hustle up the energy, drive, and optimism to hit the pages again?  Here’s one secret I gleaned from the old expression that’s floated around gyms and workout centers for years.
            “You don’t work out because you have energy. You work out because you want energy.”  I’ve found it’s true.  Whenever someone suggests I go work out (how dare they), I resist.  I think immediately of the effort and pain, sweat and strain.  But as I get into the workout, joints loosen up, endorphins kick in, and I start feeling better.  Why mention this?  Do I think writers who are flabby need more physical exercise?  NO COMMENT.  But I have found a variant of the above bromide to also be true of writing.
            “The artistic mood doesn’t cause you to write.  You write to get into the artistic mood.”  This works in the sense that I don’t expect to feel inspired and creative to start writing.  I start writing and often, the magic flows – somewhat.  And like physical exercise, a warm-up helps.  I do small descriptions or snippets of dialogue that might fit into my story.  Or I might take another writer’s description of a face or a setting and change it a little.  Then more.  Soon I’m churning away at something new.  The writing muscles have warmed up.
            Then I approach the story.  Perhaps not the inspired priest.  But no longer feeling like “the bone even a starving dog buried” either.  So, how do you motivate yourself when your muse gets mugged?  What’s your CPR for motivation?


            




12 comments:

  1. Hi Brad,
    Happy to see you here again. I enjoy your posts, they make me think. I believe my muse is resting b/c she knows she's going to work hard whilst I'm at my writing retreat.

    This has been a poor year for motivation, but otherwise I motivate by getting the first draft done, knowing I can polish it in further drafts and then seeing on a seller's page like Amazon, B&N, iBooks and Kobo, thrills me.

    Hugs,
    L.A.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for having me. What a wonderful job with the graphics! Who wouldn't kill for such a steampunked typewriter? Tolkien or Lewis probably wrote their classics on such a machine.

      I'm sure you'll have a great time writing in Florida. I've heard it's where the muses paddle-board these days. Looking forward to another adventure.

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    2. The typewriter, while old school or steampunk, which I love BTW, is surrounded by your muse(s). Take them and run to the keyboard.
      L

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  2. Motivation? I watch a Miss Marple, or Hercule Poirot, or Rosemary and Thyme, or Rumpole of the Bailly, or any number of other British mysteries. It gets me going along with a prayer to get the balance "write". Thanks for the blog, Brad. Cheers

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    Replies
    1. Quite a list of gifted writers here, Med. Gotta love the old irascible Rumpole! And he who palely loiters, Claude Irskin 'Brine', Soapy Sam Ballard, and She Who Must be Obeyed. Even thinking about them inspires me.

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    2. Both Gary and I loved Rumpole and I miss it. Time for re-runs. And I do love British mysteries, which is why I love you books, Marilyn Leach!

      Hugs
      Leslie Ann

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  3. This comment is from Jane Choate:
    Brad, you've done it again. You always manage to bring humor and practical advice together in a taste nog of wisdom and fun. Thank you for sharing your insights. Jane

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    1. Thank you Jane. Love the phrase taste nog! Very creative. But that's why you're such a successful writer and one of the leading lights in our group, as well as our resident expert on fashion purses. ;-)

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  4. Excuse the snort I unleashed at the end of your first paragraph. Isn't that the way a writer's life it viewed? Majestic and wrenchingly heart-warming. Until, of course, we decide to try it on for ourselves.

    LOLOLOLOLOL!!

    I agree with your concept of motivation, with a little modification. I'll sit down at my computer, fingers poised, waiting for great thoughts to enter my head...I glance over my shoulder at the comfy chair and blanket sitting empty in the corner of my office...I shift my attention back to the humming computer and blank screen...and opt for the comfy chair complete with Kindle in hand and clicking on to the latest book downloaded.

    Now there's the writer's life.

    So, do you suppose you can attack "discipline" next??

    I love your posts, Brad!! What I wouldn't give for just a smidge of your wit!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excuse the snort I unleashed at the end of your first paragraph. Isn't that the way a writer's life it viewed? Majestic and wrenchingly heart-warming. Until, of course, we decide to try it on for ourselves.

    LOLOLOLOLOL!!

    I agree with your concept of motivation, with a little modification. I'll sit down at my computer, fingers poised, waiting for great thoughts to enter my head...I glance over my shoulder at the comfy chair and blanket sitting empty in the corner of my office...I shift my attention back to the humming computer and blank screen...and opt for the comfy chair complete with Kindle in hand and clicking on to the latest book downloaded.

    Now there's the writer's life.

    So, do you suppose you can attack "discipline" next??

    I love your posts, Brad!! What I wouldn't give for just a smidge of your wit!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have read most of the creation of him and found that he is a writer who can simply bring small emotion in his writing, Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete

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