Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: muse

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…

Now…

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.”

O.K….

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 … }
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OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message
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Blog Conversation Concerning “What Should I Write?” . . .


Our last discussion here was on June 6th & June 11th… On Writing

It dealt with Etymologies—word histories—and explored their value for readers and writers…

Since the last part of that conversation didn’t elicit any comments, I’m moving on to a new discussion…

And, just before I do that, I must announce that, after this coming Friday (when I’ll publish the last, and 95th, short Tale in my Story Bazaar Cycle.), these blog conversations will be every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday…

So—“What should I write?”

That plea might be uttered by a well-seasoned writer or someone considering writing for the first time…

If it’s a well-seasoned writer saying, “What should I write?”, it could be a consideration about a new work or the next steps in a current work…

If you happen to be someone considering that question for the first time (or, the hundredth time before you’ve begun your first effort as a writer…), the options are just short of infinite

And, from a certain perspective, the well-seasoned writer may very well face a slightly smaller infinity of choices…

I’ve relied on what’s called a Muse to help me narrow those infinities (which can also occur just before the very next sentence…).

Over on the Lateral Action site, in the article, 5 Reasons Why You Need a Muse, it’s said:

“‘A muse?’ you ask. ‘You mean some kind of invisible spirit that dumps creative inspiration into my mind?’

“’Exactly,’ I answer. ‘A genius. A daimon. An independent force in your psyche that directs your creativity, and to which you deliberately hand over ultimate responsibility for your work.’

“’That’s nuts!’ you exclaim.'”

“All creative block is ultimately identifiable as a manifestation of performance anxiety or performance guilt. 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. It returns you to the state of relaxed receptivity that characterized your earliest efforts, when you were just playing around in a ‘beginner’s mind’ mode. This is when the best stuff happens.”

That article also references a Brilliant TEDtalk about the psychological concept of the Muse by author Elizabeth Gilbert

However, for the sake of conversation ( conversation being the whole purpose of these posts on this blog:-), there could be other ways to become inspired about what “should” be written…

Aha!

Should“…

Seems we might need a word history:

“c. 1200, from Old English sceolde, past tense of sceal (see shall). Preserves the original notion of ‘obligation’ that has all but dropped from shall.”

Somewhere back in my earlier decades of life on this planet, that word “should” was something folks could use in conversation without incurring violent wrath from certain listeners…

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…?

I had to include a few questions to, hopefully, provoke a few folks to comment :-)

My particular brand of shoulds for my writing hover around concepts like the one expressed in New Patterns of Community Life in an Urbanizing World:

“Large-scale migration to urban centers has, in many cases, led to social fragmentation, the depletion of limited ecological resources, and profound feelings of isolation and despair.”

But…

Things that large will henceforth be relegated to my ruminations about my second book of poetry…

Which brings me to the image up there at the beginning of this post…

It was created by my Best Friend, author Jane Watson, for what I thought was going to be a new work I’d publish every Saturday over on Wattpad—a “column” of articles on writing…

That lovely image up there was Jane’s creation for the cover of that new effort on Wattapd…

However, I got cornered by my Muse yesterday and was humiliated by her…

Naturally, I deserved it…

How could I keep up blog conversations here (along with the search for the re-blogs I share…) while reading the 21 books I need to explore, as research for that new poetry book; and, the depth of thinking that work will demand—along with my attention to my social media activities (and, to be sure, all the time this writer needs to just sit here and commune with my Muse and other, yet Higher, Entities…)…?

Plus, my Muse drummed into my skull, “Why don’t you encourage folks on Wattpad to come over here and peruse the over 2,200 posts you’ve already written?” (…nicely organized by topic in that handy Top Tags widget, in the left side-bar...)

So, has my exploration of “What Should I Write?” stirred up questions or ideas or feelings?

If only one of you shares a comment, this conversation can continue………
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message

Evolution of A Muse In Fictional Worlds


Another Behind The Scenes post about Notes from An Alien today :-)

These happen every Friday and sometimes have spoilers, though I don’t think today’s will—never fear, if I change my mind before I’m done writing, I’ll alert you—plus, the best way to inoculate yourself against spoilers is to read the book—it’s short and Free—Grab A Copy :-)

I’ve used something called Active Imagination for many years—introduced by the psychologist Carl G. Jung.

If your a writer, the following description of Active Imagination will have a familiar ring—if your a reader, it will tune you in to an interior function of writers (it’s a rather long excerpt but could be enough information to let you experiment with the technique):

Active imagination is a technique developed by Jung to help amplify, interpret, and integrate the contents of dreams and creative works of art. When approached by way of writing, active imagination is like writing a play. One takes, for example, a figure that has appeared in one’s dreams or creative writings. Usually, these figures express a viewpoint quite the opposite of one’s normal conscious view. Sometimes it is a male, shadow figure. At other times, it may be a feminine, anima, or maternal figure. One starts to converse with the figure in writing. One challenges the dream figure and lets him/her challenge the dreamer. The dreamer asks the figure why he appeared in the dream. He asks the figure what it wants from him. Then, the ego, like a playwright, puts himself as best he can into the figure’s shoes and tries to express it and defend its viewpoint. There ensues an iterative dialogue between the writer and the opposite figure in his dream or piece of writing. With practice one can become accomplished at expressing both viewpoints, just as a playwright does. One gets better at this the more one does it, just as the playwright does. The technique of active imagination tends to detach the qualities and traits that are first seen in a dream or in a story as belonging to external persons, and coming to see them as belonging to one’s self. Active imagination, then, helps the writer become conscious of his opposite qualities by forcing him to give voice to figures, like shadow figures, that carry qualities opposite those of his ego. These qualities personify the rejected opposites that are present in the unconscious. This technique helps recover these rejected opposites and make them available to the ego and consciousness without necessarily having to act them out.”

One note: The process can be done without actually writing anything

In my 20s, when I first encountered the concept of The Muse, I’d also become familiar with Active Imagination.

I began a decades-long, conscious relationship with Her

By the way, my belief is that most men have a female Muse (Jung would call her the Anima) and most women have a male Muse (Jung’s term, Animus).

Yes, this post is still about the short novel Notes from An Alien but I must relate an important bit of personal history.

I named my Anima Delva before my daughter was born—her mother named her Audra—we did not confer on either name

The importance of this fact for the novel is that most of the main characters’ names end in the Ah sound:

Rednaxela, Xela, Zena, Mura, Verta, Sena, Morna, and Delva…

Yes, I named a main character after my Anima—plus, most of the other female characters are “relatives” of my Anima—my Muse

Also, the Ah sound (which also extends to place names {Anga, Anla, Angla}) is a technique (which some readers struggle with) to introduce an “alien” quality into a book where the characters (by necessity) act quite like humans from Earth

So, while the most obvious reason for my writing Notes from An Alien was to portray a civilization, struggling with War and Greed and reaching toward Tranquility and Peace, I also wrote it, on a much deeper level, as a way to evolve my relationship with my Muse :-)

Also, a man and his Anima always relate as a Team to other women (whether the man is aware of the Anima component or not).

I bring this up because of a previous post here called, Writing & Games ~ Sometimes It’s Hard To Tell Which Is Which…

In that post, I talk about my using a Flight Simulator to give me time that’s detached from the everyday world so I can read deeply, ponder, and meditate about my writing

In my plane, I have passengers—some are folks I know who are living and some have passed into the Beyond, while some are my characters

I invite them on board in case they want to give me advice or counsel

This is an extension of my practice of Active Imagination

And, today is the Birthday of one of my Passengers (though for her, it was yesterday since she’s in Australia)—she’s the one who sits in the co-pilot’s seat :-)

Looking forward to your comments on this post and, please, don’t forget, you can ask me Any questions about the book in Any of these Friday posts
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“Writing Is Like . . .” << This Is A Meme-Challenge


 

Writing is like dating a metaphysical goddess !!

It was only four days ago I wrote, When The Muse Speaks . . ., then, yesterday, Darcia challenged me to complete the prompt, Writing is like…”. I take the near appearance of those two events as an instance of synchronicity; and, the metaphysical goddess that my muse is certainly knows how to operate through synchronicity…

The process of writing a book, for me, begins with my muse asking me out on a date. The “asking me out” is her way of slipping me an idea she wants me to develop into a book length piece of writing.

When it comes to this blog, I usually do the asking out.

This post, however, had Darcia unwittingly invoking my muse’s ability to use events I’m not directly involved with to bring me a chance to interact with the wider writers’ community.

In that post I linked to up there, When The Muse Speaks…, I give some information about how I formed a deep and entitized relationship with my muse–she is extremely real to me and has been since my twenties.

We are, in fact, married and, yes, we still go out on dates :-)

Of course she’s metaphysical because she’s an intimate part of my mind; yet, she has her autonomy–oh, my, yes she has her own independent way of living!

There are times I call her and she’s nowhere to be seen. There are times I’d rather use my own little ego-mind and she cuddles up and insists we work together.

She’s a goddess because she has creative power and she knows more about morality and proper behavior than I could master on my own.

One thing though: she guides my conscious mind when I write–I don’t feel like I’m sitting here taking dictation–I feel like I’m just me intending to purposefully convey what I think.

One thing more: All my writing may resemble what I thought I’d decided to put down but resemblance is not the same as identity–all my writing surprises me

My muse may not seem to be there telling me what to write but she’s always “there”, even when I don’t see her and she won’t talk to me and I can’t catch a whiff of her fragrance.

She’s my wife and she’s trained me well :-)
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When The Muse Speaks . . .


Any of you remember the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the nine muses of myth? Here are their respective fields of museness: epic poetry, history, love poetry and lyric art, music, tragedy, hymns, dance, comedy, and astronomy.

Are you a person who creates in one of those areas?

Do you think there are muses for other creative activities?

What about the muse of Fatherhood?

How about a muse for bricklayers?

Perhaps each person has a muse specialized for whatever they choose to do with their life?

I’ll vote for that last one without denying all the other possibilities :-)

It’s been said the muse is a shape-shifter. Which could mean, for a creative writer, the muse plays the part of all the characters inhabiting the author’s head.

Then there’s the issue of whether the muse is really “in” the head. Can’t the heart abide a muse’s process? Couldn’t a muse hang out on one’s shoulder?

My muse has been with me since I was born. She made me do things as a child that my mother wondered at and my father abhorred.

I worked hard in my twenties to make her proactively real. It’s a process called Active Imagination

She’s changed her name many times and she usually, of late, speaks to me without using words.

Her latest command was to be more attentive to this blog–make it shine

Since I know the task isn’t just on my shoulders–she doesn’t issue commands that she doesn’t help me with–I feel I can make the effort.

I do hope that small percentage of my readers who leave comments will let me, and her, know how we’re doing
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