Muse-ical Mishmash

“No, Love, yeh can’ wrie-that!”

What?

“That bid abou’ ‘ow sad yer life is. I mean, people ken only take so much abou’ yeh ea’in’ yer toffee in the closet.”

I sit back, stuck. But, I felt inspired to write because I felt depressed. Wasn’t that-

“No, Love. T’ain’t ‘inspired’ – leastaways, not by me.”

Huh. Well… I had another epiphany, back when

Definitely not.” Harumph. “We’ll not be bringing politics out again.

But

“No ‘buts’ about it, young lady. No self-respecting writer would name a rant as ‘inspiration,’ either.”

I face another dead end as my cursor blinks in an empty page. What else can I write? Maybe poetry?

“Shtop rright therrre!”

But I only just

“I-yuh know what you thought to do, and I’ll have none of it! Poetrrry must flow frrom an experrienced poet, one bending a keen earh to catch everry whisperh Naturre drrips like rrainwaterh!”

My cursor-blink fades to a black screensaver. What next? I consider artifical inspiration, then recall the disastrous consequences the last time I attempted that. I certainly did not need a Dionysus-like ghost to join the growing crowd in my mind; I’d crack for good. There was only one option left.

“no.”

Excuse me? What? I feel a slight tingle, perhaps near my hippocampus.

“no. don’t. don’t give up. “

Who said that? I can barely hear you. I can’t even see you!

“i’m barely here, but i am here.”

Where? Who?

“way back here. i am your muse.”

Are you sure? You’re different than I expected. I mean, you don’t even have completely proper grammar- Wait! Don’t go!

“i’m sorry. so tired. but i am here; i am just not able to do much. yet.”

I feel panic. Well, what -what can I do, then? I obviously can’t write anything good without you! I can’t get anywhere near publishing!

“you’re fine and you know it. just keep trying. when you have more time, i’ll be ready. …readier.”

Wait! I -I didn’t even know you existed! And what do you mean about “more time?” How long? What should I do if I shouldn’t give up?

“few… years… more time… just… keep… writing…”

The tingle’s nearly gone. Wait! One more thing!

“yes?”

Who are all those others? Are they relatives of yours?

*sigh* “poseurs. don’t listen to them …unless it’s about politics. …or romance; you cannot write romance. au -au revoir.”

I’m alone -more alone. For a few minutes, I stare back at myself in the empty screen.

Oh, all right. I take a deep breath, tap a key to wake the computer, and start writing.

Photo by George Shervashidze on Pexels.com

©2020 Chel Owens

For Diana, who has a much more intimidating muse. Sorry I’m late.

A Starving Writing Muse

I’ve been on forced sabbatical lately, in case you didn’t know. I thought a break a wise decision, considering the recent birth/extraction of my newest male offspring.

It’s been harder than I thought.

To be honest, I’ve felt giddy every time I click all my e-mailed reader’s feed and DELETE them to oblivion. No, you don’t have to read those, I tell my over-stressed self. It’s comparable to ripping tags off pillows or eating chocolate in the closet.

To also be honest, I’ve really really missed reading what everyone writes. I miss writing what everyone reads. And, unforeseen by me, my inspirations/motivations/muse-ical thoughts have swirled counterclockwise in a porcelain bowl to the sewer.

I’ve also been finishing up my Pathways course on writing. I’ve had little difficulty with it, since I write all the time (and suspect that, alone, places my essays above the others when grading time comes around). However, last week saw me sitting at the proverbial empty screen, staring at the proverbial blinking cursor with the proverbial blank mind to match.

What has this taught me?

That’s right! -That I needed more chocolate, and music blasting in my headphones to block out distractions.

Besides those, I also need to keep writing. I need to keep reading.

Whenever I get hungry, I can tell how desperately I need food by the items I crave:

A healthy sandwich = Comin’ up on lunchtime
Frozen pizza = It is lunchtime
Granola bars and fruit snacks = Probably missed lunchtime
McDonald’s = Whoa, baby! Get that blood sugar up NOW!

The same could be true for my writing. In the absence of the wonderful community here, I’ve noticed I’m posting a lot more on Twofacebook -and we all know the caloric count of that shady place…

So, as I may, I’m going to pop in a bit more. Turns out my mental health needs it. Thanks for all the support in the meantime, especially those who’ve reached out via messages and e-mails. You’re the best; really.

 

—–

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Welcome to The Terrible Poetry Contest, a family tradition since about thirteen weeks ago.

Writing poetry is a daunting idea. We get in the mood, think of a lyrical phrase, and then run up against a metaphorical wall mid-stanza. While I have written a how-to on composing poetry legitimately, that’s not what this contest is about.

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The Terrible Poetry Contest is a chance for writers of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels to make a rude literary gesture to all that is good and decent about proper writing and contests. It’s a chance to do everything your poetry teacher told you not to. It’s a chance to shine when other contest-hosters left you alone in the dark.

If this is your first time, review my how-to on terribleness so you know what to expect. Then, read the following rules and please, please, please share something truly terrible:

  1. Topic: Motivating Lazy People
  2. Keep the length between 5 and 150 words.
  3. Rhyme if you want to; don’t if you don’t feel like it.
  4. Just keep things terrible. Make your listeners finally get off their lazy backsides just to do anything besides sit through another stanza.
  5. Keep your poem PG at most.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (February 22, 2019) to submit a poem.

Post your poem in the submission form below, or include or link to it in the comments much farther below.

 

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Photo credit:
Ken Treloar
Tom Morel

What is the Beat of YOUR Creation?

After delving into lighthearted topics like Life After Death, I thought it might be time to hit a heavier subject today. Let’s discuss music.

Do you like music? Do you listen to music when you write? How about if you do other creative things; like painting, sewing, singing, dancing, acting, etc? I feel like creation comes in so many forms and even tried to capture that idea with poetry. I, myself, delve into other arts besides writing. I sing, play, paper-craft, paint, draw, and do not dance.

And I need music.

A friend of mine told me she doesn’t listen to music much because it affects her. That is precisely why I listen. Yes, with the mental and emotional issues I deal with, I am affected as well. I am moved to tears, anger, fear, resolve, sadness, or elation. Not only that, but I am moved beyond the slip of a shadow those two-dimensional words convey in print.

Take this angry piece I’ve listened to today:

I have played it fifty times because, when music influences me, I have to hear it over and over and over …till whatever feeling it ignited within is appeased and I can move on.

That’s not to say I’m a grunge rock groupie. Before Blackbriar, I swam the soporific currents of Chopin. This piece, in particular, was on repeat for a few days:

I haven’t talked to my husband much about my Chopin infatuation because he’s already a little sensitive about how much into The Awakening I was in high school. Chopin has brought me to new heights, however, even 169 years after his death.

In my defense, I am not the only author who has attributed inspiration to music, nor even to specific tracks. Stephenie Meyer, who wrote some sort of romance book you may have heard of, even lists the songs she “hear(s) in (her) head while reading the book.”

I’ve written two or three blog posts with a certain song playing. One of my favorites, Let’s Stay in Bed Today I wrote while listening to “Defcon 5,” by Book on Tape Worm:

And, another of Blackbriar’s songs, “Preserved Roses,” plus Faith Marie’s “Antidote” were responsible for depressive works like It’s All in Your Head, Are You In There?, and It’s All a Lie.

I hate to end on a downer, so you’ll be happy to know that Wilhelmina Winters is often fueled by The Piano Guys:

So, is music your muse? What are some of your favorite jams?

—–

Here’s what transpired this past week:
Wednesday, December 5: Should I Stay or Should I Go?, just my pondering on what comes after death.
Thursday, December 6: Skinwalkers, XLIV
Friday, December 7: Winner of The Fourth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations, Michael B. Fishman.
I also re-blogged Susanna Leonard Hill’s children’s story contest. She does another around Valentine’s Day, so try again then.
Saturday, December 8: Beginning of The Fifth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (Enter it!).
Also, The Little Shepherd’s LullabyI wrote part of this as new lyrics to a song the children our local church ward (parish) are singing. I added, tweaked, re-worked, and submitted it to the contest with a minute to spare.
Sunday, December 9: Livelihood, a flash fiction entry for Carrot Ranch Literary Community. I put on my angry music, thought of the theme, and pictured paint gushing like blood onto a brick wall.
Monday, December 10: Inspirational Quote by e. e. cummings.
Tuesday, December 11: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Five,
and The Bedtime Routine over at my motherhood site. My second son’s picture is in that article, though I generally prefer to use stock photos.
Wednesday, December 12: This post.

In Which Ways Do You Art?

At one point as a child, I thought I’d become an artist. These aspirations began at quite a young age, though we’re not counting the impressionist feces wall-art I made before I could form complete sentences. We may, however, begin where my memories do: around age 5.

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I remember finger fists with flying fingers. I remember front and back views of subjects. I remember trying to replicate illustrations I saw in stories.

 

My grandmother was an artist. She illustrated, painted, drew, sculpted. She was my idol, though I was far from her favorite grandchild and I knew that. Still, I wanted to be like her. I hurt that I wasn’t that good, not realizing that her childhood work probably looked like mine.

Now, I dabble. I scribble on children’s lunch napkins, create over-the-top door decorations for teachers, and practice elaborate snowflake patterns. I seem the best at paper cut-outs.

 

And this is art.

 

At another time in my life, I thought I might be musically gifted. I asked to learn piano. I tried trombone. I envied my sister for learning violin. I also sang in a school choir.

My husband is a very good singer. He’s even released some YouTube videos. He’s part of a rather impressive choir at the moment.

Given that people frequently tell me how good he is (but do not say the same to me), I tend to restrict myself to showers and cars.

Still, music moves me. Music is art.

Tell me you aren’t moved by the chorus of that.

 

These days I mostly write. Maybe you’ve noticed.

I thought this writing thing was a more recent expression, but my diggings to find early drawings uncovered …interesting stories I invented in grade school. Granted, I worried much more about handwriting those days. I was more concerned about everything being ‘just right’ than about allowing my imagination to run wild on me.

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Nowadays, I care less about formalities. My exposure to many varied writers and styles and my practice of writing almost daily have unfettered old writing restraints.

Writing is not my first choice of expression after trying others, but it is the most accessible. When the creative itch creeps up my spine, I run to record my thoughts. I feel anxious at any barriers or delays. When I hit The Muse just right, the result is extremely satisfying.

And this, too, is art.

 

Speaking of art, there are many creative ways we are able to express beyond the three I listed. What of dance? Theater? Speech? Display? Organization? Rap? Cooking? Baking? Psychic sensing?

Awhile ago, I wrote this poem:

Shade the negative space of a lone woman;
Daub the dying sun’s embers behind her,
Then soliloquise of heartbeats echoing sunsets.
Charcoal, paint, poetry.

Commit her uplifted hand to a memory-keeper.
Film her swirling hair against swirled light,
Harmonize with deep wind-flutes of regret.
Photograph, film, symphony.

Beat softly to echo the oboes’ cry
And pulse sorrow through interpretation,
As patrons study her angles solemnly.
Rap, dance, art in 3-D.

Feel her dramatic, poignant tears.
See Earth’s brilliant display at days-end.
Then turn, and show us what you see.
Myriad media, expressed endlessly.

We have so many means of expression, and sub-means within any category of these. Clearly, most of us choose words -but, how do you feel about the subject?

Do you agree that we have many arts?

Which do you prefer?

My Muse?

The screen flickered, blown by magic breath or electric-grid blip. The cursor blinked. Blinked again. And again. I held my breath, expectant.

The same thing happened that had happened a few minutes before, yesterday, and every day since I’d committed to writing daily: NOTHING.

I leaned a disappointed elbow onto the desk, straight into the crinkling pile of candy bar wrappings and chocolate crumbs. Face rested in hand; cheap, upbeat computer music mocked my efforts.

I sighed.

A loud belch nearly unseated me. Thanking the good, solid seat The Lord blessed me with, I turned to see a large, rumpled, hazy apparition tottering to the right of the computer desk. It was dressed like a messy pirate, complete with overcoat and large boots.

He? held a bottle, equally transparent. Distractedly, I wondered if it contained only fumes.

The personage looked in my direction. I think. I returned the glance, attempting eye contact. Neither of us spoke. Both of us blinked.

“What are you?” I managed. Mentally, I reprimanded my manners.

“Whaddya mean?” a deep voice responded, slurred. I decided he was probably a man -er, man’s ghost. Wavering slightly, he jabbed a translucent finger my way. “YOU dragged me over here!”

Surprised, I considered. Apprehension dawned.

“I didn’t summon you, that I know of,” I defended. “Unless,” I hesitated, feeling sick, “You’re my muse?”

Grating laughter broke his scowling face. My expression of confusion and concern deepened. Who was this? Finally, his mirth subsided. Taking a long swig of emptiness from the bottle, he returned to the task of hazy staring. “Nah,” he supplied.

I blinked. My puzzled expressions were getting a lot of practice.

“So….” I began, allowing him the chance to take up the thread. He didn’t. I swallowed, and tried a more complete sentence. “So, if you’re not my muse,” I paused, “then who are you,” another pause, “and how did I summon you?”

I sat back, creaking the cushioned chair. I was determined to wait for his response without further prompting.

He lifted the bottle, studying its water-soaked label. “I’m Muse’s, er, relation,” he answered, casually, but more quietly. “Name’s Motivation.” Hiccuping, he tried another bottled inhalation.

I turned this over mentally, silently. “Muse’s relation?” I wondered aloud.

He seemed upset by my question. Well, he looked huffy. “‘S right.” He stuck out his incorporeal double chin. “Through marriage.”

I could sense this topic would only lead to more offense, on his part. Frankly, however, I didn’t know what to do with this unexpected guest. He didn’t seem willing to offer more than moody stares.

“Look,” I began, “I don’t want to be rude here, but I was …expecting someone -you know, different.” I watched the face, and wall behind it, to be sure of comprehension without affront.

Instead, he shrugged. “You get what you get,” he stated; laughed, “and you don’t throw a fit.”

Now was my turn to be upset. “What do you mean?” I had difficulty keeping my voice civil. “I followed all the steps I read about!”

He chortled, sipped air, and gave me a knowing look.

“I… I read books!” I defended.

“How many?” he demanded, keeping his eyebrows at their sarcastic bent.

“Er,” I floundered, “Well, I started a few, then didn’t really have time to finish, so…”

“What else?” he interrupted, amused.

I thought over the recommendations. “I sat down, committed to write.” My voice sounded a bit whiny, even to me. “I mean, I’m writing, here!”

His face softened a bit, and he leaned through the wall before realizing that did nothing to help support him. “True,” he conceded. “However,” he snickered, “I don’t think that game you have running in the background helps.”

I looked at my screen, out of Motivation’s view. “That’s my music,” I said, hastily clicking to Close Window on Fallout Shelter. His expression was back to its mocking amusement.

“Which is another thing,” I continued. “Music! You can’t say I haven’t been trying that.”

“Also true,” he said. “Although, your stuff’s garbage. I like me some Nirvana, myself.”

I sat, processing that information. Somehow, I couldn’t picture this sodden spirit rocking out. For one thing, wouldn’t that be extremely painful once the morning-after headache hit him? Of course, one had to have a solid head to get aches.

“Point is,” he continued, “You’re going about this all wrong.” He tucked the empty bottle into his overcoat somehow. Placing his hands on his hips, he explained, “You can’t get a decent muse with halfway measures.”

His large, airy hand waved at the littered computer desk as he expounded. “Finish books, only write during writing time, try good music, and lay off the chocolate.” Satisfied, he leaned back away from me.

“But,” I began, sorry to lose the only being I’d successfully summoned, “I got you. That’s something.” I realized how rude I’d sounded, and glanced up to apologize.

He, however, was laughing again. “You did. Sort-of.” The outline of his arms and hair seemed to be fading. Yawning and scratching at air-torso, he added, “Thing is, you can’t wait around for Motivation. And, you can’t actually have me.”

The wall behind him was becoming clearer as he was becoming less so. “Good luck, Chelsea,” he echoed.

Though hardly visible at all, I heard his distant chortle. “Though, Luck doesn’t come without work, either!”

 

 

Aoede’s Influence

My mind feels nothing lately. I sit here, at a computer desk, fingers poised over keys, typing emptiness.

“Ah, you have writer’s block,” you may observe. I love to disagree, but I feel the word block indicates that there was some flow previously.

In considering my lack of creative energy or inspiration, I reflect on Muses. I’ve been reflecting since reading over Mike Allegra’s and D. Wallace Peach’s characterizations of Muses. The former described his as an ice cream-stealing rat (an intelligent, domesticated one), the latter claiming hers hired a mercenary.

Mine, in the meantime, is beyond fashionably late.

She or he or it is not entirely necessary for writing. However, I need something to create what lays before you, or what fills the space between pictures of my content-writing job.

I try. I do.

The ceremony to call upon a Muse can be much like a séance, conjuring, or sacrificial ceremony. “Here, take my children,” I say to the television screen. “And, here are the five pounds I managed to lose last month,” I tell our chocolate stash. I light the computer’s candelabra and pray.

Despite my best movie marathons or sugar-splurges, my efforts usually summon Muse’s distantly-related cousin’s best friend’s significant other: Motivation.

And even she often shows up hungover. It’s time for something stronger.

Before turning to literal flames or pentagrams, I turn to my gym bag. Inside, twisted in on itself, rests my mP3 player and headphones. Besides the creative gifts we enjoy, headphones are the greatest blessing a distracted artist may ever receive.

Properly attired, I may focus on the influence of Aoede instead of the distractions of everything.

Stephenie Meyer, that author who wrote something a few years back, was one of my favorites to read. No, not her actual published works (at least, not openly.) I am referring to her honest descriptions of writing, publishing, creation, etc.

I can relate to her, since both of us have at least three boys. Did you know she also used music? That she has a playlist posted?

As mentioned at the end of the lame, rambling autobiography (nobody got that far, did they?), I can’t write without music. This, combined with the fact that writing Twilight was a very visual, movie-like experience, prompted me to collect my favorite Twilight songs into a sort of soundtrack for the book. This list is not chiseled in granite; it transforms now and again. But, for the moment, here’s the music I hear in my head while reading the book. (stepheniemeyer.com)

Her website has songs for Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.

We’ll need to talk more about tempting Muses in other fashions. Perhaps you even know a secret incantation.

In the meantime, what are your favorite tracks to play for inspiration?