The Muse (On Writing & Editing)

The 9 Muses dance with Apollo.

We take certain things for granted I think. Art especially, I guess. One reason I think Art is criticized is because children seem to be so good at it, predisposed to it in fact. The force of shame is a remnant of the Industrial Age, where men were supposed to do man’s work and woman were supposed to stay home. Thinking about it, this may only apply to the rich folks, poor people have to work all the time. Maybe it is this confused historical paradigm which has lead to Art being seen as such a base, sophomoric pursuit. All that is probably subject for another blog, what I want to writer about is the figure of the Muse.

In Homer and other ancient works the muse is invoked at the begging of the poem. This idea had carried into the present if you look close enough. Read a bit of the writers talking about their process and the Muse will come up.

What is the Muse? It is this strange sense one gets when doing Art, where you sort of turnover to this purely creative force, which can speak and act on its own. The writer can become possessed as it were, by the Muse, and stuff can sort of just bubble out?

Now as you play with this you begin to realize the Muse is a lot like you! Whouda thunk it? So this means, it likes what you like, chocolate, coffee, music, good smelling incense and candles. So you realize quickly that if you share some of your goodies with the Muse that the gift can kick it into high gear, in your own work.

Be cautious though. Don’t see the Muse as some hedonist that if you overdose on chocolate it’ll give you a Masterpiece. The Muse does not like to be fucked with. That means it appreciates a tight, closely followed schedule. If you really want it to show up for you, you’re best to show up everyday.

I also believe it is the Muse that requires as the extracurricular reading as well. For two points, one the pleasure principle we first discussed. Second though and more importantly it wants you to beware of certain works, so that you don’t go wasting its time trying to rehash the same old thing. The Music is a critic and rational. Sloppy business will begin to agitate it. This is connected to writer’s block I imagine, and it is the Muse which is doing the blocking.

The Muse is a free agent, and the business is good. It is best to recognize this and be very considerate of your Muse. When proper order is maintained a healthy relationship can occur. If its not found, things can be dangerous. A runaway Muse can be deadly, no more evidence of that is needed than the deadly history of Rock and Roll. Breaking up with the Muse, or worse fighting the Muse, all can have disastrous ends. Therefore it is helpful to recognize what you’re dealing with, and don’t be demanding. Offer the gifts to the gods and then write it as it comes!

Source for Nine Muses:

New Segment! For Writers! Is this a sentence?!

So I have this interesting idea for a regular post. Each time I put up a new batch of words on a first draft, I am going to try and find a goofy looking sentence, or couple of sentences and then ask you brilliant reader/writer, IS THIS A SENTENCE? More than that, I would love to see how you would rewrite the sentence to make it a sentence. Do it. In the comments. It’ll be fun, maybe?

The inaugural sentence,from my work in progress, “Confession of the Werewolf”, which may or may not ever see the light of day, tell me, is this a sentence?

The cut felt deep and sent me into a rage I cannot describe, and as I came to attack him again I hit him with a number of blows and scraps, and I began to realize I was losing it, the wolf was going to kill this man, and I was going to lose the Chateau.

Snippets #30øren_Kierkegaard#/media/File:Kierkegaard_olavius.jpg

Soren Kierkegaard-The Rotation of Crops

Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backwards, that evil spreads. This can be traced back to the very beginning of the world. The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings. Adam was bored because he was alone; therefore Eve was created. Since that moment, boredom entered the world and grew in quantity in exact proportion to the growth of population. Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored en famille. After that, the population of the world increased and the nations were bored en masse. To amuse themselves, they hit upon the notion of building a tower so high that it would reach the sky. This notion is just as boring as the tower was high and is a terrible demonstration of how boredom had gained the upper hand.


Snippets #29

Adrian Chen-The Mystery of the Prospect Park Goat Heads

But most germane to my quest: The data indicate that Prospect Park has hosted an unusual number of decapitated goats over the past five years. Out of the 33 reports, nine were goat-related: seven goat heads and two decapitated goat carcasses. And out of those, half — three heads and one carcass — were discovered in Prospect Park. (Another report of an unidentified “large animal” with “whitish fur” discovered sans head in Prospect Park sounded to me like a goat, too.) Many of the reports include speculation that the goat heads related to religious rituals. But if any definitive conclusions have been reached, they are filed away in some other corner of the city’s bureaucracy.


Snippets #28

Etgar Keret- Suddenly, A Knock On The Door

A black man moved into a white neighborhood. He had a black house with a black porch where used to sit every morning and drink his black coffee, until one black night, his white neighbors came into his house and beat the crap out of him. He lay there curled up like an umbrella handle in a pool of black blood and the kept on beating him, until one of them started yelling that they should stop because if he died on them they might end up in prison. (76)

10 of the Best Books about Literature

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I got James Wood, “How Fiction Works” on the way from my public library, because of this article.

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

10 great books for literature-lovers, from surveys of English literature to treasure-troves of trivia

Christopher Booker, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. A monumental, weighty tome that shows how all fictional narratives from folk tales to novels and films follow essentially seven basic plot forms, such as ‘overcoming the monster’ (Beowulf, Jaws). Riddled with typos, but if you can put up with them, this book is illuminating and entertaining.

Gary Dexter, Title Deeds: The Hidden Stories behind 50 Books. An engaging book full of fascinating information about some of the world’s classic books, and the stories behind how they came to be called what they’re called.

Gary Dexter, Why Not Catch-21? This is an earlier book on the same theme as Title Deeds and just as much fun.

B. Ifor Evans, A Short History of English Literature. Now sadly out of print, this delightful little Pelican paperback…

View original 530 more words

Snippets #27

Etgar Keret- Suddenly, A Knock On The Door

The man who knew what I was about to say sat next to me on the plane, a stupid smile plastered across his face. That’s what was so nerve-racking about him, the fact that he wasn’t smart or even sensitive, and yet he knew the lines and managed to say them–all the lines I meant to say–three seconds before me. (58)

Thoughts on the Film Whiplash (On Writing & Editing)


I watched Whiplash today, with my brother. We try to get together and watch a new movie each month. The house has an exceptional set up, massive flatscreen, surround sound, just beautiful. So last time we watched Birdman, which just blew me away, and he said he had the next one picked too and that was Whiplash. He also requested that I remain Tabula Rosa about the movie, which I did. I discovered that is great way to watch, or consume anything, enter a bank slate and go along for the ride.

Like many movies, Birdman too in fact, Whiplash felt ripped from my own soul. Not saying I have lived a life exactly like the character,  but I have had experiences that made me feel like the protagonist. Feelings and experiences that come from working and wanting something so bad, and it being so difficult that you may never reach the goal you have in mind. I have also experienced how that affects how relatable you are to others and in fact defines how you see others. Practicing any skill requires a lot of patience and focus, and that often leads to some sort of isolation, that is until performance of course, and then you are slammed in there among other savages like yourself, who are also just holding on for dear life themselves.

Whiplash was a perfect demonstration of what I like to call the inner Warrior Voice, which all artists must have in their heads to be great. Both movies Whiplash and Birdman, have this alpha force which taunts and instructs the protagonist. In Birdman, it is the Michael Keaton’s costumed alter ego, and in Whiplash it is the Conductor Fletcher, played awesomely by J.K. Simmons. I think this figure both externally and internally is something more than just the Ego run amok. The Ego seems bureaucratic. It cares about appearances and approval. It wants to make sure everything is under control, it can’t inform or add on to what actually is. The ego is noncreative, maybe, don’t want to get to insulting here or anything.

The Warrior Voice is not like the Ego Voice. It cares about the content. Oh does it care about the content. It wants to fucking feel something. As you can tell it likes to swear, and doesn’t care who is listening. Actually, it wants you to listen, because it has something to say…

Unlike the ego, the Warrior voice, does care about others, because it knows others are better than it, and it wants to be better than them. Not for personal glorification, but for glorification of the battle/art, which is what the Warrior is really chasing, the great artifact of itself. It does this shit because it likes it. It wants it now, no fuck that, it wants it yesterday! Sorry, whoa, I’ll settle down…

This makes me think of Tarantino’s great movie True Romance. In that we find another example of the Warrior Voice as a character in Elvis, played by Val Kilmer, alter ego of our protagonist Christian Slater. Again the theme in that movie, becomes that when your back is against the wall, like in combat or staring at a blank canvas, there is a little tough voice in there, that sort of starts talking shit, telling you to pick that brush up and try coward, try to make something relevant, something meaningful, and when you get sick of the taunting then you end up strapping yourself in and going for it. There’s something great and real in that.

I got one more example of this for me, the great cult classic Big Trouble In Little China. Here I think the whole protagonist of that movie, epically named Jack Burton and played by the Kurt Russell, is the manifestation of the Warrior Voice.

Burton is fearless, over the top, heroic. He doesn’t stop. He just moves forward. The Warrior Voice is funny and sharp too;  it reads people and situations well. We, the audience, admire the strength of the manifested Warrior Voice. In all the examples listed here, there is something so sort of like, dare I say Fatherly, or comforting, in the Warrior Voice too. It wants to protect us. It wants to help us achieve our dreams.

This is shown so beautifully in Whiplash. I dare not spoil for you. Its enough to call it tough love, with the emphasis on tough. In the sort of bubbled wrapped world we seem to be creating for ourselves the hard order of Fathers seems archaic and maybe even tyrannical. This is both dangerous and sort of sad, I think.

I know as a child (and currently now that I think about it) I always sort of compared myself to and imagined myself as the heroes I saw in movies. It would inspire play and reenactments and inspire my own original story telling. Every movie would seem to encourage a different passion. Watch Rocky, do push ups and play box. Watch Searching For Bobby Fischer and learn chess. Watch the Dead Poets Society and want to read more. Watch The Godfather and want to…Anyways, yes I am a firm believer in the power of Film and Art to transform ourselves and therefore the world around us. Movies like Whiplash, when watched critically, become less about entertainment, though it is quite entertaining, and more about personal development, at least my Warrior Voice says so.

Snippets #25

Young Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway-The Sun Also Rises

“Your friend, is he aficionado too?” Montoya smiled at Bill.

“Yes. He came all the way from New York to see the San Fermines.”

“Yes?” Montoya politely disbelieved. “But he’s not aficionado like you.”

He put his hand on my shoulder again embarrassedly.
“Yes,” I said. “He’s a real aficionado.”
“But he’s not aficionado like you are.”(136)

Flash Fiction Chain #6 Round 2 (The Wedding Bells Part 18)


All right everyone, here’s the deal. This is round 2 of a sweet Flash Fiction chain hosted by the amazing, international man of travel and the Art, Jithin, over at Photrablogger. The basic idea is we take the photo and then we each get a turn at writing a piece of the story; it is amazing fun!

So please, go back to my original post here. Read all those sections. Then read all these sections:

10. Soul-Spirit

11. Phaena Says

12. The Stardust Elephant

13. Sona

14. Click Here

15. Hidden Stars Fiction 

16. Itchy Quill

17. Dr. KO *!!!!! (So a bit of egg on my face, I missed this section before I started writing my section, because of this my passage may seem a little out of place, I tried to smooth that out, but I hope in the spirit of the chain it can still work, if too many of my coauthors disagree I would be open to changes)

And then enjoy my new section here, The Wedding Bells Part #18:

Sara ran the now familiar halls in the dark. It had been such an eventful weekend. She couldn’t believe how much fun she was having. She heard about the halls under the Blackwell estate almost year ago to the day. Another one of her parents’ friends had dragged her out here, dolled her up and made her walk down the aisle, with all those faces staring at her, smiling, full of teeth, tossing those stinky petals.

She had been chasing some other kids around, dodging Grandmas with strong fingers and adults wobbling about drunk sloshing their glasses, when she saw a group of suspicious teenagers making a break down the hall of the labyrinthian estate. Her parents weren’t really paying attention to her and before she knew it, she was following behind the group, eavesdropping like a spy. They were joking amongst themselves, and then one of them mentioned the riches which were alleged to be under the mansion. She hadn’t known what “alleged” meant then, but she had known words like “riches” and “treasure.”

She dreamt about the Blackwell treasure for the next year. Her dreams became better than the books her parent’s read before bed each night. To the point where they stopped reading to her and she would just snuggle up and drift off, and she would dream about running through the Blackwell estate.

In the dreams, she would find a bureau, with a giant mirror. It was beautiful, heavy, and serious. Nothing like the plastic thing she had in the corner of her room. No, this was a Princess–no, a Queen’s bureau. There were all sorts of wonderful powders, makeups, and shiny rings and necklaces, and in her dream she would sit before the mirror, and attendants would appear around her and began to prepare her and then she would just look perfect, way better then she ever looked as a flower girl.

Then, strangest of all, she would see herself in that mirror older now, with long hair flowing down her shoulders. She looked so proud and stately, that she barely recognized herself. It hurt when her parents would rip her from it and she would be forced back in the regular world.

She made a hard turn in the dark, ran down a short hallway and things changed. She didn’t like this part of the hallway. It got distinctly colder as she walked and ever so slightly descended as you walked. You walked this hallway until it ended abruptly and then you had to take a hard right. Then it was a steep set of steps and then you were on the rock.

She waited for months for some word from the Blackwell estate. There were vague guarantees about their ability to get back and get more apples and pears, but she feared she may never really get to explore under the place. But then her Mother had said that sweet, wonderful word, “Wedding.” Exactly she said, “That’s unless Mel’s pulls the triggers and get’s married. She swore you had to be her flower girl in her wedding.” That sealed the deal. Sara had known her fate.

She waited for weeks, for some movement on the wedding. She would watch Mel and her boyfriend every time they were around for some sign of their impending marriage. She never saw it though. They didn’t seem the marrying type, too distracted or something. She gave up, left with her dreams and some vague promises of fruit in the fall.

Finally, she got word. It was no big deal to her Mom, tossed out over soggy Cheerios one morning, but Sara had cried. Her Mom had thought it was bit of an over reaction, but you know “kids”.

She made it to her hard right and stopped. She couldn’t believe she was coming back here, not after what had happened since last time. Hadn’t she caused enough trouble by now? The wind pushed up the stairs and hit her with a wet coldness.

She couldn’t believe her luck when she got the details about the wedding. They would be spending the whole weekend at the estate. Her and her parent would have their own room. She would have a couple days to do nothing but peek around the place.

Her dreams had been incredible then. She should have taken that as a warning, that maybe something strange was afoot, but she had been just a child. She dreamt about all the hallways and turns she had to take to make it to this hallway, to make it down the stairs, to make it to the cave.

She never got a sense of how big the cave was, she was much too frightened to go exploring. No, from the dreams and in reality, she knew that after she walked down on to the rock, that she was in a giant cave. There were a dozen poles, bolted in to the rock, that had lights on top of them. A sensor made them lit up as someone began walking past. They lit the way to a large airplane hanger, which stuck out like a sore thumb in the cave, but in there was her bureau and a hundred other things, including a large plane.

It had all been exactly like that when she finally snuck down there. It was the night of the bachelorette party. Her Dad had taken a nap, while her Mom was out. He wasn’t close enough with the groom, or anyone else really to go along, so he volunteered for kid duty and then had fallen asleep. She had been extra content reading her books and then curling up and watching a movie. Second he was out, she went for a glass of water and began to mosey about the place.

She found her first stairway, right where she had dreamt it, tucked into the corner of the kitchen. There was a short hallway at the bottom, then a large door, which could be locked from the house side, and then she was in the tunnels. She had ran through the tunnels so excited to get to the hanger. She made it to her hard right, and then she was flying down the stairs, she slipped for a second on the damp rock and had to brace herself. There was the hanger from her dreams!

Sara realized now standing in front of the hanger, after everything that had happened, how silly she had really been. Things had been different then in her dreams. The hanger was old and unused, it seemed. She figured everyone had forgotten it.

The plane was there, dirty with huge cobwebs dangled from its wings. She went right for the back section, expecting her bureau, and she had found it, but everything had been cleared off it, even the giant mirror was gone. It was all dusty, yellow and faded. Nothing like she had imagined.

She wandered the hanger for sometime that night. Even tried opening the door to the airplane, but she got horribly messy in the process, and found the door locked. She found a stockpile of ammunition and a pile of old rifles, that looked dangerous, along with a pile of camping gear, tools and rations. She was just about to start crying and run from the place, when she noticed a door, which had never been part of a dream. She found a padlock on the door, it was shiny and new, and she recognized that it showed someone had been down here recently. She contemplated it for a while, walking around the hanger, looking for anything else of interest, but she kept coming back to the padlock door.

She realized she had crossed a line, in coming down here; she needed to go back, but something was bugging her. Her dreams had been so great, and the table had been so gross and nothing was quite how it was supposed to be, but she still sensed that there was something magical in the place. Which is why finally, she had taken a large crowbar and wrenched the padlock right of the door; she busted her knuckles in the process and began to cry and for the first time she felt scared in the whole thing.That seemed like ancient history now.

Door opened, a light clicked on and it was like finding the inside of a genie’s cave. There were piles of money stacked up, a veritable rainbows of colors, bricks of shiny gold, more weapons, rifles and pistols, all shiny, new and deadly dangerous.

There was a finished wood bar at one end and on top of it there were five bottles; five bottles that had in her dreams. There we lit up, on display on top the bar. But unlike her dreams there was very little liquid left in each bottle. The shiny red bottle that was in the shape of heart held the least fluid. She knew from her dreams that was a love potion. One bottle was like a tall slender diamond and had the most liquid still in it. One was tall, glossy black and rectangular and made her feel like she was going to throw up. The last two were simpler glass vials, but they both had ornate stoppers on top of them. One of them was a brain, caste in nugget of gold, and the other was a thick red bull, horns and all. This was the magic; she was sure.

As she sat in the room, that night, she began to feel lightheaded, dizzy, and then it seemed like the bottles started calling to her, reminding her of the dreams, offering her a taste of them again, which they promised would be so much more incredible in real life. Unfortunately, she knew now, she decided on one, the Brain vial, which was the only voice which seemed to make any sense really, but when she reached for it, she stumbled and the vial went spilling all over the counter top. In her panicked state, she began to try to wipe it up with her hands, in some weak attempt to put some back, realizing as she did that she’d made a grave mistake. As the cold liquid spread on her hand and she began to tingle, the dangers of the whole affair pressed in upon her and she succumbed to it and collapsed to the floor.

She panted now in front of the hanger. She wondered if they were still chasing her. She felt like she had lived seven lives in the last two days. It had all been so much fun. She wished she could start it all again.

She had woken up, sore, scared and something else. Words and ideas were just pouring in upon her mind. She had never thought like this before. It was like she had woken up a complete adult, that was still trapped in a child’s mind and body. Every memory she did have in her little brain was compounded on itself a million times, until they all took on greater and greater significance and explanatory value, with that she began to realize how much she did know, now that she thought about.

All the hours of Pastors talking on Sunday, music on the radio, deep discussions between her parents and their friends, everything she had ever seen on the television and movies (which she now considered a distraction), all of it was right there at her disposal. She knew now with certainty that she could play a number of instruments, write books, sing, paint, direct and make films, etc. Anything she put her mind to. Sure, she had to get by her parents and the adults she had been manipulating in the mean time, especially that nice lady Anna, but after that Sara had a world to conquer!

She realized then, she need a little bit from each fluid for her plans, obviously. She searched the hanger for some jars. Miraculously she discovered a set in a cupboard and went back and poured a little from each into four new jars.

She needed a test run with the rest of these potions, to see there true effects. And boy had she seen them now! She’d hit a number of people with the love juice in the ensuing days, and its effects were obvious. She had tried the bull juice on Anna first hoping that her calmer nature, would be a good balancing to whatever the bull meant. After hearing about Anna’s assault, she realized it was dangerous stuff. But then orneriness had gotten the best of her and she had wanted to check if the bull juices effects were consistent on all sorts of people and then things had gotten out of hand…

That’s why she was back, she needed a bit more of each juice for her bigger plans. She felt so guilty about everything. Ah poor Anna, her mind pushed. She shouldn’t have run from her like that, that was dumb. She had watched the woman spiral out of control, her boyfriends too. But it was the price to pay for knowledge wasn’t it? Sara wouldn’t be ashamed of her experiments!

A voice broke into her panting reverie, “You are having quite the time aren’t you?” She spun around and there was Toby standing with his arms crossed…