Friday, April 25, 2014

A Clean Well Lighted Place

Where does the writing muse strike you? Anywhere or do you have a favorite place to write?

by Paul D. Marks

The muse can strike anywhere. Anything and everything can spark ideas, either ideas for new stories or ideas for scenes or bits for something I'm already working on. I can be walking the dogs or driving or at the beach. Watching a movie, having a conversation with someone. The muses are everywhere, you just have to be tuned into them.

One of the places that they strike often is in the shower. For some reason that frees up my mind. To that end, I keep a diver's slate in the shower to write down notes so I don't forget things by the time I get out.

But muses or not, what you really have to do is just sit down at your keyboard, start typing, stream of consciousness if nothing else, and let it bleed. Even if it's not initially useable it will help get the juices flowing and free up the mind. As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
But getting ideas and thinking about new works or works in progress come anywhere and everywhere. There's a FB meme attributed to Eugene Ionesco that says "A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing," and it's very true.

My favorite place to write these days is in my home office. Not very romantic, but it's got everything I need close at hand. Probably more than I need. I know some people say you shouldn't have a TV or phone in your office, but I do. But I can turn them off. And I have a nice view. Pictures on the wall that inspire me. Mostly album covers and movie lobby cards, some other things. And, of course, my picture of Dennis Hopper flipping the bird from Easy Rider. When I was younger I had a full-sized poster of that shot, now it's just a little 8x10. Oh how we change as we get older. 

I also have access to diet Cherry Pepsi and Waiwera water. And I used to like to scarf down Red Vines while I wrote, but that is, unfortunately, a thing of the past.

One of my assistants, in his usual place, where he can do his
best job editing my work.
When I was younger, I had dreams of sitting on the Left Bank, sipping Absinthe and writing. But, as I may have mentioned before, when I did try drinking and writing all I wanted to do was play. So no writing got done. And when I was a student I would wonder about people who could study or work in libraries. I always wanted to flirt and goof off. And every movement around me distracted me. Same for writing in parks and other such places. So none of that for me. No, the best place and, therefore, my favorite place to write is definitely my home office. Plus I have my assistants to help out.


Dana King said...

It's been fascinating following the comments all week. I'm not a fan of the Muse. Where I am most often struck with ideas to move the book forward, or to refine ideas I haven't started work on yet, is usually either in the shower, or in the half-awake, half-asleep state The Beloved Spouse refers to as a "fugue state," and most people think of as dozing. No conscious thought is needed to spark the idea, though I can steer it once it comes.

As for the writing, I have a small office in an extra bedroom that looks out onto a small wooded area. When the time to write comes, I sit my ass down and write. I'm accustomed to writing there, so most days all I need to prime the pump is to re-read yesterday's work. But I still write the page (or whatever the daily assignment is). If it's shit, well, that's what editing is for. If the edit is shit, that's what multiple drafts are for. It's rare to have a bad day on the same passage several times through. If through all that I can't make it work, I cut it.

Paul D. Marks said...

I agree, Dana, the main thing is to just sit down and write. Let it flow. And fix it in the editing.

Catriona McPherson said...

Your office is great, Paul. Like a Kingdom.

Meredith Cole said...

I have several similar looking assistants, Paul. They're not very good editors, though--mostly they just try to get me to goof off, take a nap or go feed them some more!

Susan C Shea said...

Paul, for all the talk of muses this week, you (and Hemingway) strip away the frivolities at the end. Sadly, no one - not even the mythical muse - can do it for us. But we're lucky for all the groaning we collectively do. We're not flipping burgers and we get to hang out with interesting people and talk to cats and dogs all day. Good post, nice picture!

Barry Knister said...

Your study looks very desirable: multiple flat screens and keyboards, posters, album covers, diet Cherry Pepsi, a good view, a cat. But wait: where are the books? Or have you gone completely digital?

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Catriona. It's my castle and there's a moat filled with piranhas to keep people away so I can

They do make pretty good assistants, Meredith, though maybe not so good editors. But they're definitely good company, aren't they?

Thanks, Susan. We are lucky and I do think we have to, in essence, make our own muse, by just sitting down and doing it and doing it again, till we get it right.

Hi Barry, there are books, but you can't see them in those to pix. There some shelves on the wall behind and also a low shelf on the far side of the desk. But most of our books are in other rooms and even overflowing into the garage. We're half high tech and half 19th century tech :)