Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

The Deadline versus the Muse

A-musing, but not funny...

When my Muse is on vacation, any convenient distraction will do. But, as an ex-journalist, I find that doesn’t make filing by the deadline any easier, especially when one has committed to joining an inspiring writer and author like Alex J Cavanaugh and his ‘bloghop’ team of dedicated bloggers/authors/workaholics to write a monthly contribution.

To remind the aspiring writer who may be reading this and who might contemplate joining his awesome throng, Alex suggests we (*bloggers, or *authors-in-waiting) jot down a few thoughts every first Wednesday of the month and share our experiences, worries, troubles, elations and errors in the publishing world with upwards of 170 other bloggers/authors subscribed to his Insecure Writers Support Group [IWSG]. That isn’t counting the thousands of other bloghopper readers, not encumbered by a deadline, as well as possible wannabees who are casing the joint before making a commitment to join in themselves.

Alex suggests that on the first Wednesday of the month we can let our hair down and spill.

This is okay because all the other hoppers out there have had similar experiences. We are among friends. It is all right to express our innermost fears, our weirdest conflict, our secretest doubt, our silliest blunder. Because he is right out front there expressing these things too. If you aren’t totally comfortable with verbalizing the negative (like stage superstition covered by the ‘break-a-leg’ greeting, i.e. don’t tempt fate), you may cheerfully add your good news, your recent success, your final breakthrough into authordom…

What is clever about the support provided by his hopping bloggers is that, not only do we get to share something we may never have admitted to ourselves before, but we suddenly have a built-in audience.

Many of us took on the blogosphere with trepidation a couple of years back, plunged in naïvely, hoping against hope that we were going about things the right way, blind leading the blind, ‘building our platform’, braving the unknown waters of HTML. We scanned site stats on a daily basis, counting our hits… grateful for traffic and every new comment.

The IWSG sorts all that out with one blow: built-in support group, others’ sharing what we had not dared say out loud, and the miraculous sudden ‘following’ of a dozen comments in the feedback section we never expected in our wildest dreams. Who can resist?

...nice to have one's ego stroked occasionally...

It’s a very nice means of having one’s ego stroked. But it’s way helpful, too.

Some of us secretly longed to become recognized in our lifetime for our — Muse-directed — passion: that we have a Voice that sounds like no other; that the novel we wrote on an Olivetti portable before you had to keep changing the ribbons might finally be unearthed and shared with millions. Others see rôle models in e-book epiphanous Amanda (Hocking) or OBE-Jo, (Rowling): imagining ourselves next to hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Still others find solace simply in reading, creating and looking fondly at the written word every day in life.

I am one of the latter. I have no option. I have always written. I doubt if I shall stop now.

This only partially explains why I write New Age fantasy and historical fiction, laced with a little Sci-Fi, for mainstream publication [i.e. hard copy]; while my blogs are hardcore non-fiction, laced with an occasional crop circle!

C’est la vie.

Alex writes this month of a guilty feeling he holds next to his heart: that he did not always want to be an author; that he writes as an outlet for his creativity and it morphed into publishing success. He should not feel guilty about this.

New Age guru and Abraham-channel, Esther Hicks, says in order for us to be successful at what we dream, it’s not the long hard struggle that counts, it’s the ability to allow effortless creation to emerge through joy in doing what we do best. It may sound like a tall order. In shorthand, Esther says if we catch the dream, encapsulate the feeling it gives us and follow through with expectation, all things will come; or, more Abraham-like:

“Once you align with your desire, the Energy that creates worlds will flow through you…which means enthusiasm and passion and triumph. That is your destiny.”
Abraham-Hicks

and

“The feeling is the manifestation.” Abraham

Part of the lifelong occupation of a writer is renewing oneself, finding fresh material that inspires, and sometimes doing little exercises in writing differently. After all, if you’ve been hitting the keys for a couple of decades, you worry about getting stale.

And, if your Muse is taking a break, there’s no harm in pounding the keyboard until she gets back.

Recently I have found myself contemplating suitably short sharp bursts of chatter on Twitter, where one may only submit a total of 140 characters or fewer — to fit in the tweet-box. It is certainly an exercise in brevity. It’s also excellent practice in self-editing. There is always the (future vision/) opportunity to tweet the publisher’s link to your book when launch date arrives!

Another technique practised by those of free-associative or poetic bent, is writing to a ‘spark’ word; or making an idea into a poem. There are Flash Fiction addicts — writing a blog or telling a story in no more than one thousand words, including all dialogue, build-up and plot. There is fun in writing a snappy caption for a random pic.

And then there is the Drabble.

Part way between the tweet and the flash, a Drabble is a story — a bullet, an idea, a character outline, a work of fiction — that is exactly 100 words long: no more, no less. I assure you it is more difficult than it sounds.

I was asked last fall to contribute to a really fun drabble-thon where each person’s 100-word story followed on from the writer before. Its theme was ‘Pay it Forward‘. The result was a flight of fancy into realms of superspace and back that no one could have foreseen. If you would like to read these brave drabblers, check out The Burrow.

I append another little Drabble which I wrote for last year’s December Drabble contest also at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash. This was a sort of picture caption and drabble combined. I am the first to admit drabbling is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot more editing and self-control than your average flash.

NOLA HOLA

She’d worked hard — her beads sparkled in December sunshine. Farmers market always busy on weekends, the tomato and squash guy in the next stall said, selling his pumpkins for pennies. Marking ’em down low was his recipe for getting home early.

Freezing, only her second time, she gotta stay to cover costs. Don’t come back without a Franklin, or I break your arm, he’d said.

That weirdo, watching from a doorway since lunchtime, came over, handed her a 1000 dollar bill.
‘Cleveland cover it?’ he asked, picking up the jewel case.
Passport outta Dodge, she thought.
‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Thanks.’

©2010 Marian Youngblood
photo ‘Colourful beads’ by Natasha Ramarathnam
December Drabble Theme at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash

So, sorry, Alex. I cheated this month. I’m not sharing an inner woe and I’m not admitting to a fear worse than death.

Unless it’s that my Muse has abandoned me forever…

Well, blame it on my Muse. She’s on vacation, and I’m having a hard time remembering when she’s due to get back!
©2011 Marian Youngblood

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October 5, 2011 - Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, fiction, Muse, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Your post made me laugh. Thank you for that. Some days need more laughter. I loved your Drabble as well. Had never heard of them before and now I’m one step further from dementia since my brain has cataloged something new. Cheers.
    ~ Kate http://fantasypoweredbylove.com/

    Comment by Kate | October 5, 2011 | Reply

  2. You have so much wisdom in your posts! Need to bottle it up and save some for later. And i didn’t know you did Drabbles.

    Comment by Alex J. Cavanaugh | October 5, 2011 | Reply

  3. Thanks both for visiting and bringing camaraderie into this solitary tent we hold open to receive passing guests. I am in awe of you both for achievements past and to come; so glad the Drabble did the trick. They ARE fun. Kate, much luck with NaNo. Alex, your own kindness is contagious. Marian

    Comment by siderealview | October 5, 2011 | Reply


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