Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 229 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis






There you are, sitting in your writing spot with a notebook, yellow pad, fancy moleskin sketch book, or the trusty Underwood of the modern age - a touch pad of whatever manufacture. You have your writer's coffee cup with that witty saying, or the boldly lettered word, "Writer", emblazoned on it. You're surrounded by framed photo's of Hemingway, King, Koontz, and Rowling. You have the sounds of the amazonian rain forest canceling out the noise of the world beyond your door. Your family has been informed that, from this day forth, between the hours of ___ and ___ (fill in the blank), you will be writing and are not to be disturbed.
You've read a dozen or so serious tomes on the craft of writing. You have downloaded a few hundred articles from the web. You have all of the proper forms from "Book of the Month in a Month or Less" set out on your desk. You have that essay from your creative writing course with the neatly noted, "Good Job!" in the top margin. All you lack is a visit from that mythical bringer of inspiration, The Muse.
You stare at the empty page or the blank screen. Waiting for something to come. You begin to understand the meaning of the term, "White Abyss". You spend time resharpening pencils, straightening out index cards, checking the paperclip supply, doing a clean reboot of your tablet. After that really productive five minutes, you stare at the blankness again.
What's happening here? When you were just screwing around things seemed to be pouring from your fingers. You never missed a deadline in class. Those magic square challenges at the poetry readings were your meat. If anything, the perverted little pixie of literary output was screaming in your ear like a personal trainer on crack. There didn't seem like there would ever be enough hours in the day while there weren't enough hours in the day. Where is that fickle son-of-a-bitch when you need it?
First off, get a grip! Want to know where the muse is hiding? Get up, go to the nearest mirror, and take a long look. Remember that scene where the Lost Boys figure out who Robin Williams is in the movie HOOK? The one fat kid suddenly recognizes him, "There you are, Peter!" Well, there you are, Peter. The muse isn't some gnarled old gnome, or the elf Rumpelstiltskin, or Tinker Bell, or Lindsey Lohan fresh out of rehab and ready to divulge all her dark secrets. YOU are your muse.
If that's the truth, why are you so creatively constipated? Maybe because you're getting in your own way. Sure, you've decided to be a serious writer. With that out of the way, why are you being so damned serious about it? Look, there's going to be plenty of time for the dour and contemplative crap later. Like when the rejection slips start arriving, or when you're watching that work of genius being reshaped into salable fiction by everyone but you on the road to publication.
Right now, you need to just get the f**k out of your own way! Sit down, get into the "prepare to write" position and just start writing. Don't think about it. Don't try to make it go anywhere. Don't bother with whether it makes sense, is profound, humorous, insightful, or appealing. Write with the joy that finally understanding Anne Lamott's epigram, "All first drafts are shit.", can bring. Write knowing that this is a first draft and doesn't have to do anything but give you a starting point. It's the rewrites that are going to save you. For now, all you're doing is warming up for the real work. The first draft is the equivalent to artistic stretches, so you don't tear a hamstring somewhere around page seventy-two.
Try a list of what-ifs. What if global warming happened tomorrow? What if you could get a night alone with Lady GaGa? What if the next President of the United States actually was the anti-Christ? What if my favorite girl suddenly married my biggest rival? It doesn't even have to be that big idea that escaped you when you first sat down. As a matter of fact, toss the big idea. It apparently didn't want you mauling it right now. Maul some small ideas. Kind of like a Grizzly Bear making snacks out of Chipmunks. Never know where that may lead.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis

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