Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Dolly Parton

Yet More Conversation About “What Should I Write?” . . .


In this continuing conversation, we’ve discussed quite a bit about the Muse as inspiration for writing… What Should I Write About?

The last installment was, Continuing the Blog Conversation About “What Should I Write?” . . .

And, just before I reveal the first reader comment that let me keep this discussion going, I need to share a quote, from that last post, about the Muse:

“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.” ~ Stephen King

And, here’s the first reader comment, from an established writer:

“My Muse does not live in a basement. She’s more a balcony kind of gal and she hates cigars. She likes to lean over the rooftop balcony and listen to the birds. However I find she is more present when I keep up a regular meditation practice. Somehow this seems to clear out my mind so that she can open the balcony door and slip inside :-) “

So, the Muse and Meditation—Paths to what should be written

And, yet another reader comment in this discussion; again, from an established writer:

“My best ideas don’t come when I sit down to write, rather at spontaneous and sometimes inopportune moments. Hence, I have a notebook in every room, my car, and my purse. :-) “

The Muse, Meditation, and Spontaneous sometimes Inopportune Ideational Visitations

I’m hoping a few more readers will comment on this post and share how they decide or are Aided to Determine their next bit of writing…

And, to add yet more ideas for this conversation, here are links to a few other answers to the question, “What Should I Write?” {value of links may vary…} :

What Should I Write About? Finding Inspiration

What Should I Write About? ~ Here are 5 prompts to encourage inspiration for article writing

What Should I Write About? ~ Quiz

Stuck for Ideas? 20 Quotes Telling You What To Write About ~ from Toni Morrison, Francis Bacon, Neil Gaiman, Marilyn Manson, Emile M. Cioran, Cyril Connolly, Dolly Parton, Tom Stoppard, Larry David, James Maynard Keenan, Anais Nin, Joseph Joubert,  Jack Kerouac, Demetri Martin, D. H. Lawrence, Ray Bradbury, Rebecca West, Lois Lowry, Joan Didion, and Sylvia Plath…

Finally, and as I regularly remind folks, it only takes one reader comment, no matter how short, to propel this particular conversation forward { though, you could also comment with ideas for other conversational topics in the realms of Reading, Writing, and Publishing……… }
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Author Interview ~ Elizabeth Thompson


The woman you’ll meet today is a very good friend of mine—intelligent, witty, and compassionate.

She’s described herself as, “Just a little old lady in a muumuu at heart, habitual writer, raging bibliophile, raving loony.”

I think we’re both right

I met Elizabeth when I was the Events Manager on Book Island in the virtual world, Second Life.

I’d be getting ready for our weekly Writers’ Discussion and Elizabeth would arrive and sit on the rope that surrounded the stage we gathered on

It sometimes took a bit of prodding to get her responses during the discussions—whatever she said always unique and spot-on

We don’t see each other at events on Book Island now—we meet up for amazing discussions with other writers at places like The Muse in Jane Watson‘s The State of Writing, in the virtual world Kitely.

So, I’ve been prodding her, on and off, for years, to have an interview here

Let’s get this thing started :-)

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Elizabeth, how about we start with some basics about you? Nicole Turner - Author

I’m a writer. A minimalist. I’m married (almost a decade now). I’m 29. I live in the great state of Alabama. I’ve been writing books in the same territory (chic-lit, new adult fiction) for over a decade.

What would you say your writing “style” is?

Messy. Flawed. Silly. But oh-so honest. I like writing about the people I wish I knew. I call them my imaginary friends because I carry them every single place I go. They keep me company when I’m lonely and give me something to sleep to at night. As a matter of fact, I named one of my mains Lullaby because for the better part of a year, that’s what she did for me—sat up in my dark bedroom with me, helping me clear my head when I needed to in order to fall asleep.

So, want to tackle “Why do you write”?

From personal callings gifted by Divine Providence to desperate dreams of sweet immortality, I’ve heard a million answers to this question. Some people are in love with the idea of it. Some people like the lifestyle. Some want to make a living. Some want to be read, to be heard, to be understood. There are people who write with the purest intentions; they want to change the world for the better. I think these are all wonderful reasons to put pen to paper. Sadly, though, my answer isn’t as colorful, exciting, or noble. I just do it because I like to.

[ Editor’s note—Elizabeth is now up to speed :-) ]

As far as publishing goes, what route would you say you’re taking?

I’ve been self-publishing since I was 19, I think. What I like about self-publishing is, you’re in complete control of your finished product (or mostly are). And in my case, there’s not a lot of upfront cost. If you have the time and desire to learn about cover design and basic self-promotion, you can do a whole lot with nothing but your talent and time invested. That’s pretty amazing. I don’t think I could ever do traditional publishing. I’m not brave enough. And the idea of my words being mass-printed and available for the world to pick apart and analyze petrifies me. I love that I can pick and choose who I share what with.

In your opinion, Elizabeth, what does it take to be a good writer?

A story to tell and a willingness to tell it. Honesty. Patience. Hard work. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. And stand there and take it with a smile when the unpredictable, sometimes unkind world reacts to your art. It’s like taking your sweet, precious, irreplaceable pet bunny and gently tossing it into a cage of starving lions. I’m sure there’s a chance they might just look at it and walk off (in a take-it-or-leave-it sort of way), but most likely, they’ll gobble it up OR rip it apart and roll around in what’s left. For me, that’s the toughest part.

Who are your favorite storytellers?

Erma Bombeck. I have every single one of her books. She was the funniest lady. I love and admire the way she could take a mundane task like doing the laundry and turn it into a 10-page chapter about trips to Hawaii and that one time she went to a potluck dinner and caught the table linens on fire. She was a drama queen in the best sort of way—an original desperate housewife. But her desperation was a different kind.

I love Dolly Parton, and I have since I was 5. I love her songwriting, her acting, and I really loved her children’s book I am a Rainbow. She’s kind and gentle, but she shoots straight. There is so much power in humble honesty.

My mom. When she’s telling a funny story, she gets so tickled by the memory, she starts laughing and can’t finish telling it. And when she’s telling campfire tales she does an impression of a chicken which can not be described with words. It’s priceless.

How do your favorite storytellers inspire/shape your own stories?

I recently decided, my new motto is, when it comes to campsites, hotel rooms, and other peoples hearts, leave it better than how you found it or leave it alone in the first place.

My mother used to clean hotel rooms for a living, and we never, ever left one we’d stayed in without her cleaning it first and leaving a tip for the housekeeper. This is very important to her. I used to laugh at her for it, but I’ll never forget and hopefully I’ll pass it down to my own kids someday.

I read a story Dolly told once about a statue of her they’d erected in a park someplace in her honor. She mentioned how her father would go out there and clean the bird poop off it. She teared up when she talked about how much that meant to her.

Care to share some advice for other writers?

There’s a lot to be said for remembering how you started out and appreciating how far you’ve come. What’s even more important, maybe, is that you don’t forget to look back and try and help out those who aren’t quite up to your progress point yet.

Elizabeth, I truly hope we can get you back here, soon, for another interview—Thanks a Heap :-)

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Elizabeth’s WebSite/Blog
Her Pinterest Page
And, Her Flickr Page

Nicole left us this postscript:
“Whenever I have books available for purchase, or for free through giveaways, links will be posted on the sidebar of my blog.”

Now is a great time to ask Elizabeth some questions in the comments…

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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com