Tag Archives: muse

Floating in the Sea of Dreams by J J Dare

My inspirational muse is very fickle lately. While she is dropping story plots left and right, the actual nitty-gritty business of writing these tales keeps skittering away from me. Mean muse.

Of course, some of the blame can be placed on me. I live a busy life for a starving artist. Keeping up a household and helping care for Baby Boy makes life at my home interesting and always hopping. Add to this catering to several mildly insane pets and being on call for family.  I’m never bored.

Baby Boy and Grandma

Sometimes I wonder if I should write a story based on the eventful hours of my days. Baby Boy fills a lot of those hours. A story about his life so far would be funny, sad, hopeful and soaked in Grandma’s love.

Fat Houdini Cat climbed in the cabinet through a narrow opening

Houdini Cat above is an interesting character. He hates the other animals. He tolerates me and my fellow lesser beings to a degree. He tries to escape but because his size slows him down, he’s easily caught. But, he never gives up.

Mother’s Day gift from the Little One

I told a dear friend recently that I felt my writing was dying. I realize now I was wrong. The size of my responsibilities may slow me down and force my writing to take a backseat, but, like my fat white cat, I’ll never give up. I’ll keep floating in my sea of dreams.

^^^^^

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Perpetual Motion by J J Dare

The perpetual motion of life is an interesting state of being. Even when we’re inert, such as in couch potato mode, life doesn’t stop revolving around us. Here’s how my life has twirled lately:

At home after the parade: The Boy & his Mardi Gras loot

The baby’s first Mardi Gras parade was last night. It was a small parade, kind of like a starter parade for him until he’s older and graduates to the wild and woolly ones in New Orleans. He hated it. The bands made him cry and the lights scared him. The father of a two-year old standing next to us said it takes awhile. The two-year old looked slightly bored. Regardless, it’s something The Boy will get used to – it’s in our blood to celebrate Mardi Gras loud and proud.

White Devil: caught!

The White Devil amused us for awhile when he jumped into a narrow box and couldn’t figure how to get out. Even though he’s so mean to the other animals in the house, I couldn’t let him suffer for long; how could I resist those eyes? After a few minutes I tipped the box over and let him crawl out with his kitty pride intact.

Soft lights of the city late at night

Late the other night, I was driving out of town and the mist on my windshield made the streetlights and stoplights soft and fuzzy. It served a dual purpose by making the song “Sister Christian” stick in my mind and reminding me I need to up the prescription in my glasses.

Other events:

A friend is divorcing her husband of ten years and was trying to figure the best way to tell her two young children that everything will be okay. She was emotionally bombed more by having to explain that Mommy and Daddy are divorcing than by the divorce itself. I gave her the only thing I can in situations like this: a sounding board. When my friend and her children’s father explained what was going on, her oldest child said, “Okay,” and went back to a game he was playing and the youngest asked if this meant he would get two deserts, one from each parent, after supper every night. Kids.

Another friend told me of a mutual friend’s recent accident. He was on the interstate and a board flew out of the truck ahead of him. He veered to the right to avoid it and ran into the car in the lane beside him. Had he veered to the left, he would have driven along the shoulder and not suffered a broken body that will take a long time and many operations to repair. But, he is alive and will heal and the other driver suffered only bruises. The jerk in the truck sped away. My friend and I talked about the split second choices we make so often during the course of a normal day and how these choices could easily turn a normal day into a devastating one. During my own life, I’ve tried to follow my own intuition – instead of ignoring the nagging in my head (go left – not right; turn on the next street – not this one; back up your files now – nah, don’t worry about it ‘cause your laptop won’t completely quit).

My laptop is still dead. Oh, woe is me. Although there are three computers in the house, I was incredibly lazy with a laptop. I could take it anywhere, including the couch in front of the television, and I could multitask. Of course, this was not always good when I was trying to write. I’m easily distracted at times. Now, I have to use a desktop in a dedicated area with no television and a door that shuts everyone out. Yay is me. I found a plus side to a laptop death.

I’m cycling through the writing phase again. I feel something creeping up and scratching at my creativity door. “Tell the story,” the insidious muse is whispering through a crack in the wood. “I’m too busy,” I reply. “You have time to do everything else. Let me in.” Since my own muse terrifies me at times, I think I’ll get back to some of my WIPs.

The world is perpetual chaos. Well, at least in my world. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. Sometimes the chaos is happy chaos (weddings, births, frozen yogurt runs); sometimes it’s not so good. We’re not wired to live in a perfect state. Perfection, like absinthe, should be handled in small sips.

From my kids at Christmas. My family keeps me grounded in life

The bedlam in the lives of my characters mirrors my own life far too often, but, the chaos of perpetual motion is my drug of choice. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, it’s off to my next line of mischief. My grandson sounds like a raptor when he yells (and he yells when his diaper’s wet or his belly’s empty). We tell him his raptor buddies aren’t coming to save him but I think it’s time for him to learn something new. Since I taught my granddaughter a short bit from “Superstar,” I’ll teach my grandson the head bob from “Night at the Roxbury.” It’s never too early to learn classic cult movie scenes and who knows? Maybe his first words will be, “What is Love?”

Hehehe.

© SNL Studios SUPERSTAR!

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Making the Most of Black Clouds by J J Dare

Over the past five days, I’ve had a mechanical black cloud hanging over my head. My sister says I should wear gloves because anything I touch seems to break. I agree with her.

I am a machine serial killer. I’ve talked about this before in previous posts, but my serial ways are getting worse (or better, depending on which side of the killer fence you are on). Over the last four days, I’ve killed a lawnmower, disabled a central air unit, and made the check engine light come on in my car. I’ve been a busy little destroyer.

The black cloud extends beyond machinery. It’s been with me for the past two years when it comes to writing, although I would actually call it a gray cloud. I can still write, but the motivation has declined. I’m hoping one day my muse will pull a Lazarus and rise from the deadlands of works in stasis and dying inspirations.

It doesn’t stop the desire to write. I have an idea for a new storyline at least once a week. Putting it onto paper is a problem. So is maintaining interest. I’m easily distracted away from long projects. Even short ones can sometimes be a struggle.

I do see a brighter side. As soon as the black cloud drifts away to hang over someone else, I may have a renewal in my writing spirit.

Black writing clouds can be good for a writer. It gives one time to reflect on what has been accomplished. Black clouds can force one into deciding where to go next.

Black clouds, writing or mechanical, can also be considered signs. I’m a great believer in signs. If my path is blocked, I take it as a signal that I should go another way. I don’t know who or what is sending that signal; it could be anything from my own subconscious to the great universe. Whatever the case, I’ve had enough experience ignoring signs that I try to listen.

I had an epiphany late last night as I drifted to sleep. I realized I have many books already finished, if only in my head. All I need to do is put them on paper.

Maybe, I’ll take all my unfinished works and compile them into a series of short stories. I have enough to fill several books. Or, maybe I’ll start completely over and see if the black cloud will dissipate and let the writing sun shine down on me once again.

 J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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In Life by J J Dare

Life is what you make it. Mine stays busy. I have a perpetual to-do list growling at me, except for those times I hide it under a couch cushion. I’m involved in my daughters’ lives on a daily basis (by their choice, most of the time). I still write when the muse makes her infrequent visits, I constantly battle housework apathy and I’m nursing three of my four cats through upper respiratory infections.

Fall has finally arrived in the South. It’s the most anticipated two weeks out of the year for many of us. My expectations are running high this week. The cool weather is a refreshing change from our normal humid heat and if the temperature drops low enough, the mosquitoes die off for a while.

October is the month for a horror-movie-a-day. My Yankee daughter and I pledged to watch an appropriately scary movie each day in honor of Halloween. I’ve unearthed some classic favorites along with some campy fun ones. In December, we plan to do the same thing with a holiday-movie-a-day.

There are days I wish I could clone myself or sprout a few extra arms. The creator was onto the right thing when octopuses were designed.

The to-do list contains a lot of carryovers from previous lists. There are twenty-seven listed things . . . so far. Just a few of these are:

  1. Clean out the back closet (portions of four different households reside there. Yes, it’s a big closet, but it’s bulging and spilling over into the rest of the house),
  2. File (the bane of my bookkeeping existence. My excuse is classic: these papers aren’t going anywhere),
  3. Light bulb in living room (it seems minor, but it’s a major task since I have high vaulted ceilings and the only way to reach the light is to stack two chairs on top of each other and balance on them like a high-wire act. Some have suggested I get a ladder, but it’s an adrenaline rush to perch precariously and not fall),
  4. Fix leaky refrigerator (growing up with tales of poverty in my mother’s early life and living on the edge myself taught me how to pinch a penny until it screams).

I expect November to be crushingly hectic. I usually celebrate Thanksgiving two or three times during the month. This tradition started long ago with my late partner because of his love for roasted turkey and my fattening cooking.

In addition, I’m signing up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I did it last year and have another completed book under my belt that I need to do something about. When my busy niece told me she was thinking about joining the NaNo bandwagon, I told her to call me Aunt Crazy because I’m jumping off the cliff, too.

I don’t have to put everything on paper. My life reads like a book. There are some chapters that are painfully sad, some that are hilarious, some are mortifyingly embarrassing and some that I would give anything and everything to redo. The edits of my life are long and when I have time to think about the hurricane of my past, I sit in the calm eye of my personal storm and cry.

Tears are a good, yet, temporary release for the grief of life edits I cannot fix. Busy helps, too, but life isn’t all about action – sometimes, life can be about doing nothing and enjoying it. It’s a lesson my late partner tried to teach me and one I’m trying to learn.

How does your real life translate to your writing or reading habits? Do the different stages of your existence influence your writing? Have you ever read a book and sensed that the author had slipped inside your head and written about you?

~

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch.

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Starts, Stops and Goodbyes by J J Dare

Today, I bring my oldest daughter and youngest granddaughter to the airport. After a three week visit, I’m not ready for silence to envelope my house. I’m not ready to say goodbye. Life is fickle and I don’t know when I’ll see them again.

Sunday was the first time in a long time I was able to see all of my girls on the same day. The constant noise was loud and wonderful. A kaleidoscope of people flowed in and out of the house all day.

Last week, my mother went into a “skilled nursing facility,” a fancier term for a nursing home. After breaking a bone in her leg four weeks ago and after a stint in a rehabilitation hospital, she is still unable to manage. The hope is she will rally enough to begin walking again and, in her words, “break out” of that place and move back in with me.

My childhood home is gone. The closing was only thirty minutes long. Thirty minutes and a multitude of papers to sign and that was it. It’s no longer the central hub of our family. The shift is slowly turning to my own house as it becomes the hive of the queen bee.

In addition to the goodbye we said to my mother’s home, I saw some faces in my family unmasked. The actions and reactions from the loss of the home surprised and saddened me. The start of naked greed over a tangible thing contributed to the fracture of intangible relationships.

The days in July are starts, stops and goodbyes. They contain the birthday of my partner and later in the month, his deathday. Although it’s another month among the past eleven months of my mourning, the sixty-second anniversary of his birth and first anniversary of his death loom large. I grieve for him daily, yet, this coming month will be the hardest to live through.

My writing has come to a stop. I blame it on the lack of time during the day because of the care I  have to give to so many. The true reason is my muse has left me for greener pastures until I’m ready for her to return. Will she come back next month, the month I could really use her to distract me from my sorrow? Or, will my grief keep the door shut on my writing helper? As with fickle life, muses do not always come when called.

Yesterday, I was visited by a grandfather dragonfly. As the three-inch long insect kept me company outside, I thought about how the smallest things are as important as the largest. Life is fleeting and fickle. Reality is how you make it. Muses come and go, as do the people in your life. The best you can hope for is to walk the path fate has laid out for you without stumbling too often.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Touchy Subjects

A very good friend, who also happens to be a member of my family, is in the finishing stages of a book that has taken him five years to write.

Now, that doesn’t sound like any time to a lot of writers, but he’s done this living on the edge. The edge of poverty, the edge of sanity, the edge of grief – almost every edge you can imagine.

His motivation is the message he wants to spread. His muse is God.

It’s a very touchy, personal subject he’s writing about and the audience he’s targeting is narrow: abortion within the 19 – 25 year old age group. To top it off, it’s fiction.

He’ll never make the money he needs from this book if it’s ever published. Every agent and publisher he’s approached has turned him away. His subject material has made him a publishing pariah.

The author is sixty years old and has never had any experience in the subject matter. However, he says he feels led to preach, I mean write, about this hot ball of wax topic.

When he discusses his book with me, I keep my opinions to myself except when I can be constructive about the mechanics of his writing. The content is his own business.

He is a good example of writing outside the box. He is writing about issues he is only familiar with through research; he has no firsthand knowledge in the area.

Of course, how many writers have the very personal knowledge in the area they’re penning? In my case, I’ve never held an AK-47, I’ve never been to Austria, and I’ve never been a man in the military. Yet, my main character has all these attributes and more.

There is often a message, hidden or blatant, in good writing.  Without a lesson, the story will leave the reader feeling empty.

What leads you to the topics you read? What leads you to the topics you write? Do you write far from your personal field of experience or do you keep it closer to home?

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Squeezing Molasses

A few months ago, I felt like I was slogging through a muddy puddle of words that threatened to trap me in sludgy muck as I struggled to write clearly and coherently. The ideas were sharp and tart in my brain, but as soon as I put pen to paper (or keyboard to computer), the stories inside the creative part of my mind began to dull. I felt I was squeezing molasses words through a pin-sized hole.

Is this writer’s block? I’ve always viewed writer’s block as creativity drying up and the muse leaving for greener pastures. I never thought of the block as something to do with the actual physical part of writing: committing words to paper.

It was a strange sensation. I could picture the stories, but the words on paper did not convey my original intent and the gist of my tale came out differently than I originally imagined it or sometimes, not at all. Like a movie in slow-motion, my words became woefully stagnant.

I’m getting over the hump. Without resorting to therapy or alcohol, I realized I was simply trying too hard. I was forcing myself to write, and, like leading a horse to water, I was leading myself to a blank paper, but I couldn’t make myself write.

Forced writing doesn’t work for me. Deadlines do. It’s a crazy thing, but when I have a set time to finish something, I’m a Tasmanian devil. Left to my own devices, I write when the mood hits – loose and free and off the cuff.

We’re all writers, in one form or another, whether it’s a full-blown novel or a memory jotted down in a notebook. How do you get over the block?

(A plug for my Saints: Who Dat! Black and Gold all the way!)

J J Dare, author of Joe Daniel’s “False Positive” and “False World,” and numerous short stories

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Help! I’ve written myself into a corner and I can’t get out…

I had this great outline for a chapter. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and where my characters were going. It was – in my mind – perfect. A month ago I started writing and before I knew it the characters hijacked my storyline and took a route that ended at a dead-end; a dead-end that has nothing to do with the rest of the story or the six chapters preceding it.

 

With a degree in English (writing concentration no less) and a “day-job” that involves helping others condense their ideas, plans, and/or processes down to a clearly written document, I know all the tools and techniques for overcoming writing obstacles. This problem is less about the mechanics of writing and more about the ideation process. Creativity does not necessarily follow the “science” of story-craft or academically recognized good writing standards. So what does one do when one’s muse has decided to trash one’s precisely organized plotline and character development sketches? What comes next when the hero turns out to have a really nasty side that doesn’t fit with the rest of his actions?

 

After a month of ruminating on this, I think the answer is to leave things as they stand and let my main hero have his baggage. Most people I know (myself included) have some baggage that they don’t reveal or emotions that are not quite in keeping with the public face. Sometimes how we deal with this baggage or why it exists in the first place can be a story on its own. The trick for me going forward will be to balance the not so savory aspects with my character’s good side in a way that will “work” for the reader. In the romance genre, most heroes are some type of “bad boy” personae – at least on the surface, but there is always a legitimate reason for this guise. What if there isn’t? What if it is simply part of who he is instead of a forum for a struggle of right overcoming wrong?

 

While it adds a complexity to the story that I had not previously contemplated, and will necessitate some serious edits to my original storyline, there is something to be said for seeing where this thread leads.

 

 

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. Mairead holds a BA in English with a writing concentration, an MBA and her Master’s Certificate in Project Management. She has authored or co-authored a number of training courses for the companies she has worked for as well as free-lance articles for publication. Her novel, “A Love Out of Time” will be available by Christmas through Second Wind Publishing or Amazon.com.

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