The Muse

The tides of change are flowing

Things are changing around the dusty corners of this creative mind.  I can feel this change beginning to happen and it’s exciting to be aware of it from such an early stage.  Normally, we don’t get to know about these changes until we’re (apparently all of a sudden) hit with the urge to create, and we tend to think that this urge has just hit us out of nowhere.  Now I know this isn’t so, that the conduit through which the creative urge flows, takes time to be built.  Not much time, but time nonetheless

In the past, I have ‘suddenly’ got an idea for a story.  I then write down this basic thought in a notebook and keep it for when the time is right to actually write it.  When that time arrives, I ‘just know’ that it’s now time to write this story, and I get on with it.  I  have had no awareness of anything going on during these intervals of time, or during the time leading up to the initial ‘idea hit’.

Now things are different, and I’m being made aware of the very first seeds of creation being sown, and I know that one day, the result will be a story, a book, and that book will be the culmination of the changes that are just now beginning.  I have yet to experience the ‘idea hit’, that is yet to come, but when it does, I will know and think, “ahh, this is because of…………………”

Maybe it’s the muse taking pity on me and deciding to let me in on the bit he normally does on his own, I don’t know but it’s exciting.

My mind is being ‘called’ to take notice of things I have never taken much interest in before.  I’m feeling compelled to watch certain movies, and I know it’s because they contain things that will help me develop a future story.  The first two of these are 2001 and 2010, both classic space operas.  I had some difficulty getting hold of 2001, but thanks to a great friend Paul (thanks buddy) I was able to watch it and I know why I had to watch it.  Today I watched 2010 and although I’m not totally sure what nugget of gold this one has for me, I do know it’s not the same one that 2001 has.  All will become clear in the fullness of time.  I also know I have to watch Doom, probably several times over, and again, I do know why and what I’m looking for.  I have this movie on DVD and luckily, it’s one of my favourites, so I won’t mind at all.

All I know at this moment, is that it will be a classic space opera and will take place entirely in a space ship.  The protagonists will be a unit of soldiers, and a highly sophisticated computer will star alongside them.  I even know the main protagonist’s name,  that was one that came to me ages ago, which is written in my ‘little purple book’ of ideas.  I’ve no idea whether this will be a stand alone or a series, although my educated guess is a stand alone.  I have no title as yet, but I do know that it will come while I’m writing it.

Writing has always been an intuitive process for me, but I’ve never before been party to the build up that lays the foundations for the story.  This is a first for me, and it’s wonderful to be a part of.  I’ve no idea why my muse is letting me in on this initial foundation laying process, but I’m very happy that he is.  Maybe it’s a new muse taking over, one who likes to do things differently.

There have been other changes here too lately.  I wrote some time ago that I decided to do another anthology of short stores, only this one would be paranormal rather than horror.  I have a couple of them done, and I started another, which I planned to be around 4k words.  Well that story is now at 12k and has no intention of finishing yet, so I’m now writing a paranormal novel that I never planned to write. Who’da thunk?

One week ago, on Ash Wednesday actually, I gave up smoking.  I’m getting pangs of course, but my new best friend is my nicorette inhalator and it’s helping me stay on the wagon so far.  Maybe without the poison of smoking, my creative mind can now see further, and maybe my muse can now reach me more easily, I don’t know.

Change is happening, and change is good.

Who is in control, muse or me?

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People often ask me, “where do you get your ideas?”  My answer is always the same, “they just seem to drop in on their own.”  I know that’s not a very helpful answer, but it’s the truth, and I always tend to think of the ideas as coming from somewhere outside of me.  Whether it’s just creative energy floating around in the ether that just happens to land on my brain cells, or whether it’s being fed to me by the spirits of dead writers, or even if it escaping from another dimension that just happens to have strayed too close to this one, I don’t really care.

Many creative people talk about their muse as if it’s a person, and I’m the same.  Mine feels like a male, but maybe that’s because I’m a female and subconsciously, I know I need the male energy to complete me.  He doesn’t have a name and I haven’t given him one, but I do believe in him as male.  He’s fairly easy going most of the time, but he can crack the whip when he feels the need.  When he does, he’s persistent and won’t accept being ignored.

His method is subtle though.  If I’m ignoring him, he will bombard my brain with ideas, or a single idea, and no matter what I try to do, it won’t go away.  If I have a certain direction in which I want to take my story, and that doesn’t match his plan, it’s his way or the highway.  I can be typing away quite happily, then suddenly find myself typing stuff I had no intention of typing, with no idea where the idea for those words came from, and it’s usually the polar opposite of what I wanted to do.  I’ve come to realise that he knows best, so I always give in and let him  have his way.  If I’ve been resisting his push for a while, when I do finally give in and write, the story usually pours out like a tidal wave.

I decided a little while ago, to write some more short stories for another anthology, this time paranormal based rather than straight up horror.  I had a couple done, and had an idea for a third that kept banging away inside my head for ages.  When I finally sat down to write what I thought was going to be a short story of no more than 4k words, it quickly became obvious that His Lordship had other ideas.  He wants this to be a book, maybe a novella, but certainly NOT a short story, perish the thought.

This sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not.  I love that the creative force is so strong and active and tangible for me, and I feel sorry for those who don’t feel that way.  I don’t know how I could advise those folks.

So who is really in charge?  The answer for me is two fold; either the writer takes charge and ignores the muse, or the writer listens to the muse and let’s them direct the story.  My personality is one that needs strong leadership and an active ‘hands on’ approach.  I need firm but constantly encouraging guidance.  I’m one of those types who would thrive in the gym if I had a personal trainer yelling at me all the time.  Sometimes I find it hard to motivate myself, so a strong push from outside of myself is what works for me.

I’m happy to let my muse be in control.  I trust him completely and never argue, it’s pointless to try anyway.  I always say that I don’t actually write my stories, my characters write them, and I just take dictation.  I find the whole subject of the muse, fascinating, and would love to know what your experience of it is.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Novelist

Okay so the title’s a play on words; an adulteration of the title of the famous short story by Alan Sillitoe but this blog was inspired by similar feelings to that of Sillitoe’s main character Colin.  In Sillitoe’s story, Colin uses long distance running as a way to cope with the borstal regime he is forced to endure after committing a crime and it helps him to focus his energy and determination in a positive direction.  It’s very similar to what writing does for me.

why I write

 

I haven’t made the best that I could of my life; let’s face it, who does?  I’ve had obstacles like everyone has and some of them have been pretty huge.  I’m autistic, which means I can’t communicate as effectively as most other people when in the physical presence of people.  It also means I don’t ‘get’ signals and can’t give them.  Let me explain about the signal thing as most folks don’t know what I’m on about.  We all give subtle (or not so subtle) signals to each other, body language etc, to communicate on a non verbal level.  Our subconscious mind is expert at reading these signals and this is where our gut feelings about people and their behaviours come from.  One typical form of signal is flirting.  The eye contact, licking the lips, playing with hair etc etc, all those are signals.  People instinctively know how to give them and our subconscious minds expertly read them and we communicate in more ways than just talking.  If I am in a crowded place and I’m watching two people interacting, which I do quite often: people watching is fascinating, I can read their signals to each other with 100% accuracy.  Put me into an interaction and something goes wrong with the process.  I now can’t read the other person’s signals with any accuracy at all and I can’t give accurate ones.  The whole interaction gets fucked up and they can’t wait to get away from this ugly crazy woman.  I long ago gave up trying to overcome this particular obstacle.

I was an abused child, sexually abused and this gives one a very warped sense of what men are, who they are and what my role with them should be.  This was probably the reason I always made the most horrendous choices possible when it came to boyfriends.  Two divorces later and I realised I was never going to get this dating thing right, so I resigned myself to being alone for the rest of my natural.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to look at good looking men.  After all, a thing of beauty is a joy forever, so they say, but I know that I’m neither pretty enough, slim enough, young enough or adept enough at conversation and interaction, to attract one.  I do get lonely but constantly trying and constantly being rejected is more painful than being lonely and unloved.  Believe me, it is.  You take the lesser of two evils when the chips are down and make what you can of it.

These two things combined, meant I grew up an outsider on the fringes of society.  I was always looking in the window but never had the key to the door.  I wanted to be a part of society but at the same time, I knew I never would be and I had years, decades, of anguish over it.  Inside myself I knew I had a voice, with something to say but there was  never anyone to listen or hear it and so what I had to say never got said.  I knew there was something inside wanting to get out but I had no clue how to give it that freedom.  I tried several things as I grew up, drawing, playing guitar (that one lasted a few years until I had to realise I was shit at it), acting (the shortest lived of all), craftwork of various kinds (I still do this one, kind of) but it was always the same.  Whatever I tried as a conduit to get my inner voice out, I was, at best, mediocre and no one listened.

As I grew older and older, I’d make acquaintances who would quickly tire of me and walk away hating the very thought of me (that’s one thing I am good at) and I resigned myself to just being an invisible old person who would one day wither away without fanfare (oh please let that be soon) and the world would carry on as if I’d never been.  Then Vin Diesel got me writing (yes, if you hate my writing, blame Vin as he started it) and suddenly after all these years, my voice had its way out.  It had been so long waiting that on that first night when I began to write, I wrote for 8 hours non stop and finally dragged myself from the computer at 4am knowing I was a writer, a novelist, a science fiction novelist.  I knew it with every fibre of my being and it was wonderful to know I’d finally found my place in the universe.  Now I could give what was inside of me its freedom and that would remain as part of the universal consciousness until the end of time itself.  Now I knew I had a legacy.

That was June 2011, not long ago and although I sincerely doubt I will ever be a famous writer, nor even able to feed myself and pay the bills from it, I feel I am finally fulfilling my life’s purpose.

As I say in the quote above, only via my writing can I achieve all that I failed to achieve, only via my writing can I experience all that I failed to experience and only via my writing will I be, all that I failed to be.

Through writing with my characters I can be strong, courageous, fearless, popular, funny, beautiful and loved.  So long as I write, I can be them, live their lives on their worlds, feel their feelings and be a part of the universe at last.

That is why I write, why I will always write.  Without writing, I had no life and without continuing to write, I will have no life.  I am still the outsider but for a moment, when I am with my characters, I’m someone else, somewhere else and I’m smiling.

Writing as a vehicle for higher wisdom

The Lilean Chronicles may seem like just another science fiction series, with the usual hunky hero and gorgeous heroine racing around the galaxy, fighting evil aliens and just surviving and getting out of danger in the nick of time. It is all of those things of course, but it is so much more besides. It is a vehicle for much spiritual wisdom that has been passed to me by the universal consciousness, spirit guides, creator, call it what you feel comfortable with. This higher consciousness decided that the best way to get this wisdom across would be within a vehicle that people find comfortable and easy to absorb. To run this important spiritual thread throughout an exciting science fiction story would, they decided, help the reader to absorb the ideas and wisdom naturally and easily. This would then encourage thinking at a greater depth, that might help to expand horizons a little, which might then enhance their path through their own lives.

It seems to be working too, as the feedback I’m getting from readers suggests that it’s the spiritual aspect of the stories that stay with readers, touch them somewhere inside and make them think. One man who confessed to always having hated science fiction, told me that after he read the first in the series, the spiritual aspects resonated with him so deeply that he was looking forward to reading the next in the series. For me that is the most awesome validation that the trust I have with my higher guidance is not misplaced and that what we’re doing together is the right thing.

So what are these spiritual wisdoms? Well it’s simple really; the universe is a complete being and it knows best how to regulate itself and keep itself in the right balance, but it can only achieve that balance if we stop interfering and let it get on with it. That love in its pure, unconditional form is the most powerful energy in creation. That thoughts are a living energy that once created, go out and reach their destination and have an effect. That we are all connected, with each other and with those that have gone before and those that will come after us. That we each have a destiny towards which we are moving and which cannot be avoided. That sometimes our greatest learning comes from the greatest suffering and that the gifts that such suffering bestows upon us, are the greatest the universal consciousness can give.

The Lilean Chronicles touches upon many subjects that we all face in our lives; loss, despair, betrayal, fear, death, suicide, murder, love, commitment, strength of character, choices and many others. By seeing how the characters deal with these issues and understanding the spiritual wisdom behind them, there is the opportunity to make these things easier to deal with when we face them in our own lives.