Monday, September 10, 2012

My Muse Strikes As Lightning: Patti Smith, Lovecraft, The World, Etc.

Busy is good.  Believe it.  Yes, back here finally.  Took a mini-vac to northern Italy, to Siena, one of my fave places in Italy.  Checked out many of the small towns with their unique personalities while there, like San Gimignano with its statues of naked men--yeah, not kidding--even some atop of buildings, tall towers, as if about to jump.  Alessandra and I even enjoyed a free live concert outdoors in a piazza in Siena by Patti Smith, a truly outstanding performance.  Love the way she connects with the audience, with how she is always aware of her surroundings, including history and more.  Her introduction to "Horses" dealt with the annual horse race in the piazza she was performing at, a free-for-all poem, just like in Rome when she did an off-the-cuff little poem about Bernini's marble elephant outside of the hotel where she was staying.  She's a powerful wordsmith, one who always seems in touch with her Muse.

Which is what this is all about.

The break and a conscious acknowledgement to shake things up a couple, perhaps three weeks ago, have been a boon to my writing.  See, sometimes we--or perhaps I, of course--get kind jammed into a  creative corner.  It's not as if words aren't happening, but it's an inner understanding that they are not where they need to be.  Dealing with a couple of stories that have been real bears--lots written, know where they are going, but baby stepping to the end--does that.  You get in there, struggle a bit, step out and feel like you're a hamster on a wheel.  Grinding forth, but not getting anywhere.  I know both stories, in particular The Alternative Translation, have what it takes to be what they need to be, but for some reason, the final steps seem miles away.  Shaking it up realizing this and knowing something has to be done to get beyond this static phase, is what I did.

So, of course, I started a new story, one fresh out of nowhere.  Actually, it was initiated by Alessandra's work on a bio of a famous poet.  She started getting interesting information and in getting this info, perhaps some to shake up our perceptions of him--yes, apparently this whole post is about shaking things up--this triggered something in me.  I started a story dealing with a person researching a famous poet all goes off the rails and into truly bizarre places almost immediately.

Would I have it any other way?  Do I even have a choice?  Haha, he laughs, maniacally...  (BTW, this was noted in my last post, where the possible titles for the piece at that time were Invocation of the Abominable, Coronado's Pandemonium, Welcoming Chaos, and perhaps a few more, but at some point during all this shaking up of things, I wrote a poem called, Autumn in the Abyss and immediately realized after writing that poem, the title would be good for the story, and perhaps my second fiction collection.  It's all in the mental mixer taking shape.  Funny thing, as Muses are wont to do, it looks like I may have to write a sonnet, too, with that title, a connective link to the story, perhaps the first piece in the collection, while Autumn ends the collection, but, again, this is all my Muse grabbing on to something and really running with it.)

But, when my Muse gets going, it gets wild.  While in Sienna I hand wrote the core of a story dealing with True Darkness for an anthology I am slated to appear in.  I also started another piece when back, triggered by an image that came to me while reading The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft.

Pause, and here's a big point about how my Muse works.  I write as I do, don't really sound like anybody else, I believe.  I have my own voice and it's still growing and changing, but most any story sounds like me.   My Muse has a tendency when I am in full on writing mode to take in everything around me, whatever I read, watch, the world as I venture through it, etc.  Where do I get my ideas?  Dear God, open your eyes, folks.  The world is overflowing with them.  But what makes taking in all of this reading, what I see and what I experience work for my fiction, is how my brain always seems to veer into that odd element within a situation.  I've mentioned before how looking at a story from a different angle is essential to my mindset.  While eight out of ten writers might look at an unfolding situation in a similar way, yours truly and another explorative writing soul--Lucius Shepard, Laird Barron, Thomas Ligotti, J.G. Ballard, etc.--will (or would have in Ballard's case; he's actually the biggest believer/culprit/inspiration in this mindset, too, as it was the foundation for much of his work) go to unexpected places, shaking things up in peculiar ways, but ways that keep us interested and, hopefully, the reader as well.

Back to another explorer with his own distinct mindset, Lovecraft's story pulled an image out of some inconceivable place within my already crowded and slightly (slightly? Do I hear maniacal laughter again?) warped brain, this truly alien image.  Another thing that works for me (and another digression; c'mon, you know this is how I work!): if you're going to present something as alien, Go All The Way, meaning, make your alien so alien it does not have to follow any of the rules of how we as humans are; meaning, when reading the above mentioned story by Lovecraft, he describes such purely bizarre alien life forms as to remind me of how that is to be done and expanded on...and this image, this incredible image came to me, settled into my head, and I could not help but start writing about it thinking, sure, perhaps it's just a short piece, flash fiction, but then, damn if my Muse doesn't say, No, John Claude, there's much more to this Things story, and I'm introduced to a twelve-year old girl by the name of Arlene Sandoval, it's the mid 1960s, and I'm simply shaking my head at the wonder of creativity, of being a writer, when words and ideas and Stories start to flow freely...

And I know is, The Alternative Translation will be sliced and diced and finalized soon after completion of these pieces.  As well as the other bear.  As well as more.  Shaking things up and getting the creativity really rolling helps in all facets of writing: for the new stuff as well as the older stuff in need of, well, help.

When it starts to flow, just like my rambling in this blog post, let it flow, man.  Go for the ride, eyes wide open, and enjoy!

And write it all down so we can enjoy it, too!

Here's one of those naked fellas on top of a tower.  When I saw him, I mentioned to Alessandra when she was taking the photo, I should post it and call it Don't Jump!  So there...

Don't Jump!

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