Saturday, January 06, 2007

Who is writing the words anyway?

Do you believe in artistic muses?

My novels don't magically appear in my psyche (wouldn't that be efficient?), but ideas and images do. Sometimes dialogue for characters will start playing out like a movie in my head, and I will try to quickly capture it on paper.

Poetry is where I have the most success with my muse collaborations. The first lines of a poem or even an entire first stanza will make itself known to be by repeating in my internal notebook over and over until I finally write it down. There really is a muse, (or muses) I believe, who kind of nudges me and insists that I write something. That is why I never procrastinate with poetry. Novel writing yes. I will clean the entire house or reorganize my CD collection before sitting down to write a new chapter. It's annoying, but it takes care of my To Do list.

As an example, last night the words "I choose you" and "the enchantment is complete" kept appearing for me. I ended up writing an entire poem with those lines as the starting point. It is based on a painting by RC Gorman. As soon as I do my final edits, I'll include that poem in a later posting to this blog. Who knows? This could be the start of another poetry collection. It is always a surprise to me how my writing projects begin. I start small with an interest in a theme or genre, and then 25 poems later there is a real work there taking form. It's all organic - the process. That is what is so exciting to me - not knowing where the story will end, but enjoying the creative journey. Bite-sized pieces of inspiration are less intimidating too!


Thursday, January 04, 2007

When does inspiration hit?

When does inspiration strike for writing? I will leave that question out there. Feel free to add your ideas. Anyone, anyone? Bueller? For me inspiration seems to hit at inconvenient times when I do not have or can not reach my pen and paper or computer keys. Typically when my brain is given a siesta from taxing tasks like in the shower, waiting in line at the grocery store, or when I'm nursing my baby. Inspiration also hits when it is supposed to, when I am sitting before a blank screen or page, but the big ideas are allowed to play out in my imagination much more fluidly, when the space in my head floats between planes. That is why dreaming can provide such fertile ground for writers. The internal editor isn't giving a critique on why your hair-brained idea is unrealistic - and I don't mean your freshman English teacher with the bifocals. It's that internal naysayer who can make great ideas vanish into thin air. Be confident, think big, let your mind wander into the caverns of the unreal. We are writing fiction after all. Time to write from a destination unknown. I think I will program myself to dream about a story and let the story find me. I'll let you know who I meet along the way. There is a character waiting to be born on my screen.


Long time no blog ...

No, I haven't had writer's block, but I guess I've had blogger's block, because in looking at my last entry I haven't left a message here since the summer. I have been busy with a new bouncing baby boy and have also "birthed" a book. Due to be released soon is an art/poetry book called Land and Sea: Poetry Inspired by Art which I collaborated on with artist Irene Ruddock. We started working on it a year ago and it has materialized into a full-fledged book! For more information about the book's release, please visit my website: and to learn more about Irene Ruddock's beautiful paintings, you can visit her website:

Now that my shameless self-promotion is done with, I can reflect on what really matters - writing, ideas for writing, the art of writing, why I write, why I don't write, why I take up space here writing really long sentences because I can. I think this is what I love most about a blog - as a writer I can be informal and share what really goes on inside a writer's head. I think one of the most honest portrayals of a writer's insecurities and obesessions is when Nicholas Cage's character in the film Adaptation has his monologue at the beginning. I'm sure has the whole speech written out (but don't hold me to that). Nicholas Cage talks about his dream for being the fit, well-travelled, nobel-prize winning, attractive, accomplished, philanthropist writer and how this will make him a happier, better person somehow. He sits before a blank screen and daydreams about all of the things he should be doing or could be doing. In reality, he should be putting fingers to keys, but instead he beats himself up over all of the qualities he is lacking.

OK, I couldn't help but do a search on IMDB for that opening sequence. For all of the writers reading this, you will laugh and identify with these thoughts I'm sure!

Directed by
Spike Jonze

Writing credits (WGA)
Susan Orlean (book)
Charlie Kaufman (screenplay)

first lines]
Charlie Kaufman: [voiceover] "Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm a walking cliché. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked. There's something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I'm way overdue. If I stop putting things off I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat I would be happier. I wouldn't have to wear these shirts with the tails out all the time. Like that's fooling anyone. Fat ass. I should start jogging again. Five miles a day. Really do it this time. Maybe rock climbing. I need to turn my life around. What do I need to do? I need to fall in love. I need to have a girlfriend. I need to read more and prove myself. What if I learned Russian or something, or took up an instrument. I could speak Chinese. I'd be the screenwriter who speaks Chinese and plays the oboe. That would be cool. I should get my hair cut short. Stop trying to fool myself and everyone else into thinking I have a full head of hair. How pathetic is that. Just be real. Confident. Isn't that what women are attracted to? Men don't have to be attractive. But that's not true. Especially these days. Almost as much pressure on men as there is on women these days. Why should I be made to feel I have to apologize for my existence? Maybe it's my brain chemistry. Maybe that's what's wrong with me. Bad chemistry. All my problems and anxiety can be reduced to a chemical imbalance or some kind of misfiring synapses. I need to get help for that. But I'll still be ugly though. Nothing's going to change that."

Well, I will close with those thoughts for now. I do not have writer's block, but I do have two small children under the age of 3 who seem to eat away at any time I might have to write. So why am I here contemplating my writer's navel when I should be churning out some polished firkin fiction. Well, that will have to wait for another entry.