“First coffee, then a bowel movement, then the muse joins me.” ~ Gore Vidal
As a writer, I have read, and heard in person, many, many kickstarts to get the flow going, (no pun intended). Oh, the rigmarole to start the writing process, i.e., time of day, yoga, a walk, strong drink, (your choice), reflections, talk to the parrot or the parrot talk to you, musings of such, to get the words down. I have mentioned before, I do not entirely give initiation or credit to the word ‘muse’. I attack my process, mindfully, in a different way.
Writing gives a person time to discover connections, and time to ponder which great or small discoveries can be had, then taken deeper or lighter. As a writer, we play with words and ideas, taking them apart and putting them back together, and get a surprise along the way.
In re-reading an article from the Arizona Daily Star, February 14, 1994, Dale Dauten tackles issues of musing and writing in the corporate world. (FYI – I do not clip out hundreds of articles or tidbits from newspapers, or print off the internet, but when I read something regarding writing, at times, I give in.) I found this piece in one of my journals recently. Dauten writes, “I once told a business broker that I would go home and muse on his proposition. He gave me a look of one-quarter pity and three-quarters disgust – that look people give a dog who just got sick on the carpet…” Dauten goes on to account that his friend is wrong, of course. Inventors are musers. He had recently read a story of the Swiss inventor George de Maestral. Coming home from a walk in the woods one evening in the 1940’s, he found cockleburs on his woolen trousers. How did these little cockleburs manage to get such a hold on his pants?
So he put a burr under the microscope and found that it was covered with tiny hooked barbs. The hooks caught the loops of thread in his wool pants. George then was able to recreate with fabric the cocklebur’s system of tiny hooks and loops and using the first syllables of two French words – “velour” for velvet, and “crochet” for hook – he gave his new product the brand name “Velcro”.
Many years later in one of my classes, the instructor asked each of us to pick out ‘velcro words’ in others’ stories, write them down, and then after each story is read, say aloud keywords that ‘clung’ to us, words that ‘poked’. We were to think more openly, more creatively in our descriptions of words such as these ‘ velcros’ in our own stories, giving the reader more to cling to, words that would rattle around in their head maybe for the next several hours, or days. What an invention!
For instance, here are a few from a private workshop in May 2013 – ‘bags of bleakness; sea of yellow; skin the color of oatmeal; ‘I felt like the inside of a tin can; swampy crater; navigational nightmare; anxious tore at the soft parts of my body’…and so on, all loaded with Velcro.
Sometimes I sit on my porch late in the afternoon after I think my work is done for the day, or at the dining table when too hot or too chilly to be outdoors, looking at my yard of many colors, and opening the door for my thoughts to walk about. Words, ideas, and even nothing can spring up in the oddest forms. Like recently, the word panther – she rises like liquid flint. I jot it down. I might be able to use that someday, or just be satisfied with the feel I got from it floating through my head. But it stuck, like a cocklebur.
In this mental walk-about, Abigail Thomas in a recent blog post echos similarity: “I am interested in why this, why now? what’s the root of this new thing I can’t get out of my head. So I set to finding out. Then if I’m lucky, and don’t impose my will on it, or aim for perfection, I might find what I’m looking for without knowing I was looking for it, which is sort of the whole point, don’t you think?”
Yes, I do Abigail, I do.
A reminder of the upcoming event: Diana and I will be joining a group of published authors at the Annual Book Fair hosted by Society of Southwestern Authors on November 25, 2023, in Green Valley, Arizona. The location is 2150 S Camino del Sol, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
If you are local, please join the fun. The weather and atmosphere should be captivating.