Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

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Continuing the Blog Conversation About “What Should I Write?” . . .

 Prologue to this Post:

It’s Official… Our Blog Conversations are now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays! Leaving the rest of the week for valuable re-blogs from other folks and, from time to time, extra special surprise posts :-)

The Muse O.K., on with the discussion…

Last Wednesday, we began, a Blog Conversation Concerning “What Should I Write?” . . .

You may want to check that post out first to ponder what was said about having a Muse

I will, however, bring over a few questions I asked that could be easily answered in many if not most cases by integrating a Muse into the WritingLife:

Is it conceivable to you that writers “should” write certain things?

That a particular sentence “should” follow that one you just wrote?

That a precise gem of a word “must” precede a particularly important other word…?

Those questions may seem to be situations where the writer’s rational mind needs to be applied in the revision phases; yet, if the function of the Muse is active, they may be surprisingly dealt with right in the first draft…


Here’s the rather surprising comment from last Wednesday that permitted this particular conversation to continue—surprising because it comes from a consummate writer:

“Sometimes a concept can be right under your nose and yet you do not fully appreciate it until you see it explained in more eloquent detail, which this post just did for me. I know about the ‘Muse’ that many writers or painters refer to—I confess I just took her (or him) for granted—a metaphor perhaps for the writer’s inspiration but suddenly when I read this: ‘Offloading your sense of responsibility for creative work onto another self is like flipping a switch. It instantly removes that pressure and lets you breathe again…’; and, a switch flipped for me internally. Why had I not used a Muse for this? Where was my Muse and why wasn’t she doing this for me? Perhaps because I’d locked her in a cupboard a long time ago to keep the room tidy? Please forgive me Muse. I have the key and I will let you out. And I’m very much looking forward to watching Elizabeth Gilbert talking about this concept :-)

Naturally, there are other methods for deciding “What Should I Write?”, whether that question applies to a complete work or the next scene in a story or the next word in a sentence: and, I do hope a few of you will bring up some of those methods in the comments

But, before we leave this part of our discussion, I’ll share just a bit more about the Muse; and, it comes from Stephen King :-)

“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”


The ground rules for our conversations here are that at least one reader has to leave a comment (short though it may be ) so the conversation can continue; otherwise, I get to start a whole new discussion :-) { … and, you can always leave a comment about other conversations you’d like to have … }
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message

Dear Muse

Very Instructive Tale in today’s re-blog………

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

mulloyBy Marla Mulloy

Write a letter to your muse, my writer friend said, in answer to my sad, self-loathing, whine about the writing life.  So I did.  I was mad.

Dear Muse,

I haven’t heard from you for a long time.  I wonder, are you having a nice time on your little holiday?  You must be having a holiday; you are certainly not paying any attention to me.  Perhaps you are on a beach somewhere in the sun, reading something that someone has actually written?  Or maybe you are simply watching people cavort in the sand or wander by the ice cream store, bored silly by my procrastination and delusion.   I realize I wasn’t the easiest charge you’ve had.  I realize I was hard to motivate, boring to watch.  Most likely, you are in my living room sitting in that chair that I placed near the small table where I…

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Literary Lifeguards by James Ponti

Today’s re-blog reiterates the phenomenal importance of Librarians — to writers and readers . . .

Nerdy Book Club

Like so many of the great lessons in my life, this one starts on a beach.  Waimea Beach to be exact, on Oahu’s north shore. I was there for a television shoot (I know, rough life) and interviewed a lifeguard. When I asked him about saving lives he gave me an answer that caught me completely by surprise.

“Most of our rescues are on land.”

He explained that he and his fellow guards keep a constant eye out for the inexperienced and unprepared: the tourist with a sparkly new surfboard; the novice swimmer steeling up with courage to dive into the surf; kids daring each other to jump off the rocks.  When they encounter these people, they engage them and talk about the dangers and their skill level. When appropriate they recommend nearby beaches that are better suited for them and encourage safe practices. The reason is simple:

“It’s easier…

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Ninety-Five

“You Really Think Humanity Has a Future?”

Alexander M Zoltai

Paul and Jacinto had been friends since childhood; yet, their professional activities had kept them apart for over ten years.

Paul, successful self-publishing author—Jacinto, successful international journalist.

Jacinto had contacted Paul before he left Chile—disclosed his deep distrust of where things were going—said he was giving up his career to write his memoirs—at 36 years of age—before the world collapsed…

Paul was wondering about his own career—pondering what direction his writing should take—hopefully, to help folks better understand the potential for the transformation of humanity…

Paul picked his friend up at the airport and Jacinto immediately launched into his worries, with much verbal flair, until Paul said: “My friend, I agree the world is in sad shape; but, can we approach its faults with our hearts open to the potentials for change?”

“Ah… Paul… Paul… You deal with fiction and I deal with facts… Still, it was your recent series of short Tales that determined me to visit…”

“You’ve read the Tales on my blog?”

“Indeed… Much to ponder; especially, since you make fiction seem real.”

“It’s been said that fiction reveals the truths that facts can hide…”

“Hmmm… The facts I’ve dealt with for the last 10 years have made me want to hide…”

“I understand…”

They arrived at their formerly favorite café; and, after they ordered, Jacinto said:

“So… You really think humanity has a future?”

“Yes… After major restructuring…”


“The structures of society are tattered and rotting—they’re well past their prime and deeply disturbing the well-being of a large percentage of the human family.”

“It’s just the lies—constant lies giving the rulers a horrible advantage…”

“Yet, people could find ways to talk under and over their rulers—spin a more truthful web of knowledge, eh?”

“Perhaps you have a more insightful perspective than I’ve had…”

Their sandwiches and drinks came and they were quiet as they ate…

When the plates were removed and more tea ordered, Jacinto continued their heart-engaging discussion:

“So, tell me, dear spinner of tales, what potential for change exists in the world—why should anyone strive for plans of improvement?”

“Well… First, I have great faith in humanity’s ability to order their lives rationally.”

“Faith in rationally? Sounds like fiction…”

“Dear friend, you’ve been on the front lines of the end of the old world order—you’re a casualty and need recuperation…”

“I will quit my contracts—I have saved plenty—perhaps, we should share a home again…”

“You’ll have to meet my dog before we negotiate terms for habitation…”

Their hearty laughter drew general attention and Jacinto waved merrily at the other customers which made them all go back to what they were doing…

Paul continued: “You’ve been too much with the old world, the one that’s dying—what if you could explore what the members of the new world are doing to ensure the continuation of humanity?”

“And, if I find interesting material, I should add it to my biography?”


“So, who are these members of the new world?”

“Folks who form supportive learning groups in neighborhoods, villages; and, in a few cases, whole regions of certain countries. They engage people in discussions of what’s needed for healthy and well-functioning individuals, communities, and institutions—they’re shaping a new way of living that has many aspects that have been known for centuries but distorted and suppressed by materialistic philosophers and rulers…”

“So… You can speak like you live here and now and not in your fictional worlds; but, what chance do a small percentage of people have against the tumbling weight of a dying society?”

“That small percentage has been working under the radar for many decades; in fact, from their true beginning, it’s been going on for nearly 200 years—a very slow start; and, now, rapidly spreading…”

“What’s their secret weapon?”


“So, we’re back to fiction.”

“Is a mother’s love fictional? Is a love for your neighbors fictional? Is a love of justice fictional?”

“One and two are not—three surely seems to be…”

“Ah… Yes… the world-traveling journalist has been in the murky trenches of the last bastions of false justice and false sentiments and false promises…”

“And, these magical creatures who love themselves into a new world are not a dream—a false hope?”

Paul reached into his briefcase for a sheet of paper and handed it to Jacinto with: “Here’s an excerpt from a book called, Peace: More Than an End to War.”

Jacinto read:

“World order can be founded only on an unshakable consciousness of the oneness of mankind, a spiritual truth which all the human sciences confirm. Anthropology, physiology, psychology, recognize only one human species, albeit infinitely varied in the secondary aspects of life. Recognition of this truth requires abandonment of prejudice—prejudice of every kind—race, class, color, creed, nation, sex, degree of material civilization, everything which enables people to consider themselves superior to others.

“Acceptance of the oneness of mankind is the first fundamental prerequisite for reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Universal acceptance of this spiritual principle is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace. It should therefore be universally proclaimed, taught in schools, and constantly asserted in every nation as preparation for the organic change in the structure of society which it implies.”

When Jacinto looked up, Paul said: “It takes a lot of love to do that…”

Jacinto didn’t respond, looked shaken; but, in a good way—like the feeling when something suddenly makes all the sense in the world.

Paul gently said: “Could I introduce you to some of the members of humanity’s new world?”

He truly didn’t expect what happened next…

Jacinto said: “I think I need to meet these people…”


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message

Stop Making Sense

Today’s re-blog is a writing 101 lesson…


We all can use a reminder from time to time :-)

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Have we got an offer for you!

Black and white picture of David Byrne dancing in a boxy oversized suit from the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making SenseHow did I get here?

Would you like to improve your writing craft today? By, say, 10%?

This doesn’t apply to everyone of course, but after editing essays and books and posts for the Brevity blog, for experienced writers and new writers and everyone in between, I’ve noticed a lot of repetition.

Not from book to book, although I see that. Not even from paragraph to paragraph, although I see that too.

Within the same sentence.

Sometimes it’s telling as well as showing:

He looked like an old man with his grey hair and gnarled hands.

Tell it once:

His hands were gnarled.

Better yet, show it in an action:

He ran a gnarled hand through his grey hair.

He picked at the tablecloth with a gnarled hand.

Sometimes it’s showing the same thing multiple times:

Jane patted my shoulder, gently massaging my…

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