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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Calliope will Always Find a Way

I am about to embark on a wonderful adventure. For fifteen weeks, I will be deeply immersed in technical training that will result in at least two professional certifications. I put myself through all sort of fun hurdles to get into this training program because I truly believe at that the end of the process, I will benefit greatly, not only in terms of knowledge but in terms of a day job.

But this blog isn’t about my day job and you wonder why I bother to allow Real Life to intrude here… I’ll tell you why.

As I got deeper into the process to get into the training program, I became hypersensitive to my environment -- partly because my opinion of the Bronx has been tarnished since my last foray into the borough decades ago.

Of course, I am vigilant of my environs whenever I find myself in places I do not know well. You should always have an idea what is happening around you, in case you have to make a quick getaway!

What I saw inspired what has become a series of notes on my iPod to supplement the back story of Love and the Android.

I have a character back story. I have a setting on earth. I have the motivation for my heroine to ascend to the heavens and live there…

And despite the very real, very contemporary setting, I saw the vestiges of it with a futuristic city built upon it – not masking a broken past, but solidifying what was strong about it and taking it to a whole new level.

In short, the Bronx, in a scant few days, has become another character in what will be the Act I of my novella.

A place that inspires the level of euphoric creativity that I have experienced in the last week needs to be reconsidered and forgiven for its past sins.

The reason I bring up Real Life here is because the Muse found a way to squeeze past all the vicissitudes and create fiction that sticks to the page.

This is exactly the point I had been trying to make earlier. Don’t despair when the Muse falls silent for a moment, she is looking out for you. Relax and let her do her thing. When she is refueled, Calliope will whisper the most wonderful things in your inner ear.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Writer's Block Isn't

Somehow I have been extremely lucky in the last two years and any time I found myself stuck in park and unable to propel a story forward, others manifested themselves and I was in a perpetual state of creative fusion and fission.

This is what allowed me to put together a back catalogue.

I allowed the writing to come to a halt because my priorities had to change as Real Life needed to take precedence for a bit.

For whatever reason, I’ve picked up my mechanical pencil and started writing during breaks. I never regretted putting May You Grow Old and Fat aside because I understand that trying to force a story never works.

When you try to manipulate output for no other purpose than to be done, only horrific things can happen… For one thing, your characters lose their voice and the narrative thread unravels.

But when a character drives the action forward and you hear their voice, you must answer by documenting what they are telling you. Right now, a scene I was not anticipating has opened up before me and added an additional dimension I had not planned. A character whom I thought was central to the story has taken a journey that surprised me. Shocked me even! A character I thought of simply as an accessory has suddenly turned into a catalyst for change.

At the same time, a few days ago as I walked to the train station a funny story insinuated itself into my psyche and by the time I was downstairs in the subway, I’d drafted a synopsis that I believe will be the next NaNoWriMo project. I have two choices now: the android story that explores sexuality and artificial intelligence in space or the story of a woman possessed by a pair of stilettos bought at a thrift store that present her with superpowers and an interesting set of problems. One is humorous. Maybe they both are . . . I don’t know yet.

The fact is I need more laughs because there has been too much drama and too many tears shed lately. But ultimately what I wanted to say was this:

  1. Never rush creativity, trust your inner voice to find its way in and out of story.
  2. Be patient because this small virtue will reward you with magnificent surprises that spring forth even more creativity.
  3. Do not despair when the voices of your characters are muted because you must focus on priorities – this will make you stronger and it will show in your writing when you return to it.
  4. Never, ever, assume the Muse has left you. Even a Muse needs to rest sometimes. She’ll come back, you just have to be alert and recognize her when she comes back to you.
This experiment has not disappointed me yet and it keeps getting more and more interesting. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!

Writer's block often isn't, it's just a necessary break to gather impulse.