The roses were waiting for her alongside the morning papers. Georgie went instead to the breakfast servery. Which Petroski brother had sent the flowers? No one else had cause to send them. Would it be a thank you for the dinner the night before from Demetri or an apology from Vladimir? Bacon, a poached egg, grilled tomatoes, wilted spinach and toast arranged on her plate, she sat, flower card in hand. Tea poured, she opened the envelope and drew out the card:
Good morning Miss Georgina, The dinner was delightful and the company more so, a man couldn’t wish for a more accomplished and charming sister in-law.
Foolish, how she warmed at the sentiment; how she felt only the smallest disappointment that Vladimir had not sent them. She was halfway through breakfast before she picked up the paper. As was her habit, she scanned the headlines as she made her way to the gossip column. She bet herself a crumpet with honey that her betrothed featured there again.
Finally, the moment arrived when there was nothing to do but turn the page, sight targeting on the evil little column, brace and read…read and re-read.
The Petroski Brothers reigned the night at Madam Debuverey’s salon. The writer was informed that the salon was introduced to a range of Russian salon games which, rumor has it, touched the lips of many a female salon member, especially the elusive and beautiful widow. Invites abound as the Petroski brothers spend their last few nights in the city.
Georgie, slapped butter and honey on her toasted crumpet, ripped it apart with her teeth and masticated it into oblivion….brothers. She picked up the nasty little column and read it again. And, sure as eggs, there it was again, the Petroski brothers.
Her father came into the dining room whistling, “Morning sweet-cheeks. Paper? Anything of note?” He piled his plate with kippers, sausage, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and pan-fried potatoes. Then stepped towards the table.
“Spinach!” Georgie growled.
“Yes, yes must have been an oversight.” He placed a few leaves on his plate.
All the writers I hang out with have a muse of sorts. When writers describe their muse it ranges from a distinct presence to a form of inspiration or internal guidance. Some relay a sense of communication from within and others that it is somehow greater than them and more connected to something universal.
No matter what form they take, writers agree Muses are all demanding and moody task masters.
I experience my muse as a sensation. We communicate through a link, a golden thread connected to my belly that sinks deep down until it gets to very dark waters and dangles into it. Communications come as a swell that travels through the thread and back into my gut, creating a kind of fullness that needs to be transmuted into pictures, words and feelings which then take shape on the page as characters and story. By the time they are taking shape on the page they are quite formed. I don’t consciously create and ‘make up’ the characters and dynamics. I also don’t feel that I ‘make up’ the story, rather that they are all given to me. My job is to express it and if I fail to write it, someone else will.
Having said that, I do think there is a ‘simpatico’ between my personal life themes and the stories I am given. As if by the very fact I have the resonance of those themes I call to me stories with a similar vibration and frequency, if that makes sense.
I’m a pretty amicable sort but I regularly manage to upset my muses. For something so anciently archetypal they are pretty thin skinned, or maybe just inflexible task masters. Generally this ‘falling-out’ happens when I want to take the lead in the story and say something like “no, no we aren’t going to go that way, this is much more interesting… or this is closer to genre” well they dig their heels in and the swell stops and that great idea I had sucks and the swell that feeds me is gone. Eventually I head back to that awful idea the muses’ had and start it up again and wham, in comes the swell. I feel like I’m the typewriter and they are the fingers…
I asked some writer buddies to express some of their experiences and grumbles about their muse.
So, when I started writing I didn’t realize I was getting into a relationship with this motherfucker called Muse, and I say that with affection. Well, some affection. You see my muse and I have been at war since August last year. Mother. Fucker. Just once I’d like my muse to be easy but he/she never has.
Most of the time I think of my muse as a he—there is an abruptness to him, he comes when he comes and when he wants, he stays away. There is no cajoling him, no bartering, no demanding. It’s his rules. When he does show up, he likes to express himself in visuals, like watching a movie scene with the sound off but I can feel the characters emotions—joy, lust, pain, as if I waked in their skin, living inside them. Sometimes my muse does talk, not a voice but still in visuals. I see the words, like white lines on black, just dialogue with nothing to anchor it to a scene or place in the book. All of what my muse gives me is just seconds. Flashes. Random. A spark because he really has no interest in doing the heavy lifting, getting involved in the writing. He feeds me crumbs and the writer in me tries to fill up on it. And I can’t. The truth is writing is craft and mastery; the greats have unwavering discipline and my muse … my muse is all whim. He has moved on before I can even sketch what he’s shown me. Before I finish the book. Before I even germinate the story—the crumbs in my mouth turning to ash.
When I started writing I thought my muse and I were dancing. I didn’t see that we were not courting, or the battleground we were drawing. I didn’t understand that my muse is not my lover—someone I could call with a touch of my hand or still with my company. In some ways my muse will always resist. Always be an adversary. Always be a wonderfully, wild thing.
You can find more about Nicci HERE. She writes HOT BDSM and is working on a Anne Rice type Vampire series that I gobble up when ever she shares scenes of.Follow her on Tumblr if you like to blush while checking your phone.
Cassandra L Shaw
My muse as writers call what gives them story, has lived inside my head, taking me to wild worlds all my life. A mysterious creature, she cannot be found at a whim. She has no address, no phone number, no Facebook account or email.
She’s one of those friends who float in and out of your life when it suits them. The crazy friend who is fun and wild, and a tad whimsical, a little dark inside. She’s that friend who plants a goofy smile on your face and leaves your heart fuller as they waltz out the door, leaving you wondering or in this case—writing, until they once more return.
My fey mysterious friend often arrives when I’m writing a different story, urging me to change what I’m writing. She’s the one that whispers in my ear, no don’t write that, write this.
She throws open my door and waltzes in, wafting scents and images of other worlds.
It’s the images I write from. Pictures and flashes of scenes that play in my mind – as she urges me, write this down right now.
She’s like your favourite song, dragging you back to the dance floor even though you have blisters on your feet, or need to go home—or finish the story you’re writing.
She’s the reason I have several dozen partially written stories, just to get her images out of my head, the ideas down. But after messing up my routine, showing me alternative tales I try to ignore, she leaves.
I rarely disagree with her ways, though sometimes I have to dilute her dark side. I do however consider that a little dark makes the light seem brighter.
Cassandra Shaw writes Urban Fantasy, Shifters and Time-slip Romance. I love her writers voice, its versatile and strong. You can find more about Cassandra HERE.
Cathrine Winther Poetess and dark, dark writer shared this on troublesome Muses.
This is a very personal, reflective piece about my process with my muse. It is not a generalization to how other people experience writing or their muse.
My muse is a bastard. I love him but he is a bastard. That said, I wouldn’t change a thing about him. He is what he is and he does what he does very well. He feeds my creative drive. However, he largely does it on his own terms and in his own time.
I am not someone who sits around waiting for inspiration to strike. I write when I want to write, and if I have done the hard work, inspiration and my muse usually turn up. However, I am often writing blind. I tend to have a vague idea of where I am headed but many vital details are hidden from me until the moment comes that I have to write the details of that particular scene or character. This would be fine except for the fact that I co-write a lot of my books. My co-author (Leon) places a lot of trust in me that I will pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute when we write. In our latest novel I had to assure Leon that the villain of our piece would be fully fleshed out and present when it came time for me to write him… even though I had no idea who he was or what he was like right up until the day came and I had to put pen to paper. But, true to form, my muse pulled through and Malick, our villain hit the page running.
However, probably my longest ongoing ‘dispute’ with my muse is power. My muse doesn’t do things by halves. He loves writing very dark, powerful, dominant males. Although I value all characters equally, for me, there is something far more intense happening when I write these edgier characters. While this is exciting it is also incredibly mentally and physically draining. I tend to compare it to the idea of sprinting for two hours instead of slow jogging for two hours. After writing one of my typically dark and dominant males for two hours I feel like I have just done a two-hour sprint. As an ex, semi-pro sprinter I can confirm that sprinting for two hours is just about impossible.
Working through this issue is an ongoing, very conscious compromise between my muse and myself. I find it all too easy to sit down and start writing and before I know it, two hours have gone by and I have spent the whole time in the headspace of a dark, dominant male. More recently I have found ways to manage this better through routine and goal setting, but it is a battle because I am fighting instinct and emotion to keep my muse in check and take care of myself and my stamina. And in short, my muse is quite wild and doesn’t want to be controlled. Part of me loves that about him, the other part of me just rolls my eyes… Just like an old married couple.
You can find more about Cat HERE. I love her pomegranate banner image, the seeds that kept Persephone in the underworld with Hades.
This is a great video to watch about the creative process. There is a part where she talks about how a poet talks about the poems and how they come to her… just brilliant.
There are other elements that underlie the talk. The idea that artists can walk into the flow of the creative force ‘to be touched by god.’ What is it like to have had that experience and wonder if it will ever visit you again. Her own fears of what if the best work was the work you have already done, that nothing else will match it. Made me wonder if it was harder to hope for your work to catch fire and speak to thousands or to have already done that with a work of creativity and never be able to do something similar again.
As much as being witnessed is part of the creative process, I think there has to be something at the core of it that you do because you can’t not do it. Because doing your creative process is a process in itself independent of the results.
I feel deeply supported and appreciated, thank you!
It requires that I share Share 7 Lovely Facts about myself (Hmm how does a fiercely, private introvert manage that… Oh, I see …)
Well I guess that brings the list down to 6.
Ok, so the keys to my secret identity. Oh God the pressure!
I think a tree must live somewhere inside my chest because I can feel other trees when I am near them.
I am at my fourth heart. Unlike cats’ and their nine lives, we don’t have a whole lot of hearts to break. There comes a time when a heart breaks and you simply walk out of the ruins and never return.
I have an addictive personality. If I like something I want it all the time. Music, I’ll listen to the same album till I’ve done it to death then listen again, mushrooms on toast – I want to eat that all day at the moment, and then yes there’s … him, but that’s secret.
I am a moody hugger. Sometimes I will and sometimes I can’t. And I mean can’t. But I can always hug him.
Kangaroos graze on my lawn, goanna’s try and eat my chickens and I have a python living in the roof. An average day in Australia.
I believe some of the most powerful moments are embeded in the ordinary. I complement myself and others when I say we are, all of us, remarkably and wondrously ordinary.
So task two of the Award is: Link to 15 blogs (or as many as possible) that I enjoy reading. Nominate the authors of those 15 blogs to participate and do the same, linking back to the original Lovely blog. (That would be this page.)
You absolutely need to check Nicolette and Catherine out they are my super favorites.
I shared something of this amazing book a couple of weeks back and here is some more for all the Nanorimo’s out there writing at the moment. I have just given key elements from a few paragraphs.
During movement into the imaginal, you experience a change in medium ….
The world that you are looking at is no longer a world of form but has instead become a living story filled with the mythic. At first what you are seeing is just a thicket of forms, symbols…slowly decoded, one at a time. But as you move more deeply into the analogical thinking, those textural forms soften, become transparent liquid, first viscous and sluggish, like a jelly of meaning, then ever thinner and more mobile, flowing faster and faster until, suddenly, you shift, and they are alive as you are alive, their interactive, communicatory expressions flowing towards you at the speed of thinking, until you can’t entirely distinguish the communications they are making from your own thoughts, so quickly do they move inside and become integrated by you.
In that moment the dreamer, that deep part of unconscious, becomes conscious…….. This is the place that Rilke often wrote of, and Baudelaire, and Goethe, and Corbin….
Once we enter this place, we begin to think not just analogically, but mythically. We immerse ourselves in the myth pool that Stephen King speaks of, the dark waters of duende cover us, black sounds reverberate, and imagination itself becomes a form of perception , of cognition, of understanding.
In this heightened state of perception you directly perceive, through both your feeling and visual sensing, the living mythic world that underlies the world of form…..
It is a place to which some part of us belongs, for we ourselves, come from an archetype that has expressed itself in multiple forms over long evolutionary time…. When we reenter the imaginal world, we touch that archetype one again….
And when you are in that state of perception certain things, of their own accord, present themselves for your gaze. There is some living thread which connects them all to the mythic your book is becoming.
Ok so have you ever read a line or a passage and it really moved you, more than the actual words on the page should have? I don’t know about you but when this happens it usually takes me by surprise. You are reading, immersed in the story, there is often an underlying tension that might be building and then you read this one sentence and wam you are hit with the emotion or the insight, like a damn was building up behind the words Buhner would say. That emotion or that deeper meaning was there under the surface, threaded along with the words and then all of a sudden it is on the surface. It’s pretty magical how that happens really. I’ve stopped and really analysed the words but it’s something underneath them that’s doing it.
ENSOULING LANGUAGE by Stephen H Buhner steps into this realm of writing and leads us through how it works and how any writing or art that is alive is a product of this process either consciously or unconsciously/intuitively.
Here are some samples from the book, they use writing but the same principles apply with other forms of art.
What he’s talking about in this snippet is the ability to write something while concurrently describing how it looks in the world but also how it feels in the world. And to do that as a writer you need to be in the feeling and the seeing of what you are writing about, in order to to express it. And when you are in that state it forms a kinesthetic dimension.
“Our capacity for nonphysically touching of the world opens up to us a different dimension of things beyond height, width and depth. A feeling dimension. And this feeling dimension of things will lead, if followed with focus and diligence, very deeply into the meaning of things in the world. Artists take this natural human capacity and go much further with it than most do; they do it as a profession. They begin to follow the touch of meaning upon them, follow their sensate perceptions of a golden thread, into the depths of the thing itself, into the meaning that underlie its surface form, its image.They then work to capture that in language.” ( or in music or photography or painting…)
Here’s another one about what happens when you write from this combined state of visually feeling it:
“A visual description then, in the writer’s hands, becomes infused with feeling. Simply by reading the visual description you have written, the reader feels the secret kinesis of the thing being described. Visual sensing, inside the writer ( and subsequently inside the writing), has taken on kinesthetic dimensions. And simultaneously, feeling has taken on a visual dimension. Simply by reading a line filled with feeling, a visual image or series of images unfolds within the reader.”
Buhner goes on to lead us through many other elements what layer into this process and consequently take us deeper and deeper into the process of enlivening our expression.
Anyway check out ENSOULING LANGUAGE it’s a pretty impressive read.
I feel like I want to stalk around it a while before I pick it up and start the read. I can already feel that its going to do something to the way I see things and think. Love that about a book but its also hard work. A commitment to go on a journey, rearrange all the closets in your mind.
I don’t know about you but I store ideas, stories, facts and experiences that may not ‘fit’ in any particular world view I hold but never the less are pertinent or intriguing in some way that I want to keep them handy. Like a jigsaw piece that you put to the side and wait for the moment when its space is created and you can fit it into the whole. I tend to do this a lot with my relationship with nature. You can probably tell by the imagery in my blog and my prose that this inter-phase with nature and self is an important theme for me.
There are 3 things that are floating in my mind as I think about starting this book. A kind of anticipation “will this book go part of the way in helping me to add these pieces together” They are pretty ‘out there’ and a bit of a ramble to explain so I’ll spare myself the disclosure. But the interesting thing is having not thought about them for years they are brushing off the dust and eager for me to start the read while taking them into account.
I find a similar thing happens when writing romance. Themes come up and coalesce and they seem to awaken pertinent things that connect; an article I read, lyrics to a song, a mood, images, a movie. They all seem to step forward to bring a symbolic wallpaper around the desk as I write infusing the story and characters.
These more anthropological/shamanistic reads like How Forests Think, do the same thing but on me directly rather than a manuscript.
Anyway perhaps I’m just procrastinating…..I’ll have to put genre aside for a few nights and sink into the amazon…. the book promises.. ‘to call into question our central assumptions about what it is to be human’…. hmmmmm. I definitely see a mental spring clean to assimilate even a fraction of what that promises.