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There is no muse, and other unsettling principles: 4 of 6 - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
There is no muse, and other unsettling principles: 4 of 6
5. But ... but … if there is no muse, I shall perish! What, oh, what shall I do without her when I am blocked?
Spare me.
If you are truly blocked in the worst of senses – for, as we are John Donne’s dung-making Holy-Ghost-temples, we are at the mercy of our flesh and its transient ills – I suggest figs and a glass of port. See you right in no time.
But, no, you are, you contend, suffering from ‘writer’s block’ (another excuse for the operation of indolence and imagination upon luxury).
On your feet, then. Take a hot or a cold bath. Take a long walk upon the downs. Ride. Take a train or a rural bus and attend to the conversations of your fellow-travellers (by which I do not mean Philby or Blunt). If you are starved of interaction, refill your reservoirs by being, like Lear and Cordelia, God’s spy: eavesdropping, earwigging, is a superior resource for writers. Otherwise, it’s the bath or the walk or some other solitary activity for you, and no whinging: get away from yourself and listen. Let your characters speak to you. Try over lines in your head. You may forget them in detail before you can get them down: good. The ones you forget weren’t worth preserving to begin with: they were not, in the Sellar-and-Yeatman sense, memorable. What shall stay with you are character, theme, and mood, and that’s what’s worth going on with.
And don’t for God’s sake bother with all these Internet ‘prompters’ and ‘unstickers’ and Advice of Monotonous Sameness. Balls, all of it, and perfectly deadly to you and your individuality.
Annie Dillard, as I recall, tells the tale of a writer who, when lecturing to aspiring writers, used to ask, Do you like words, or do you simply like the idea of yourself in a beret? If you like the tools and material of your craft, let them guide you, and you’ll make a writer. If you don’t and shan’t, you weren’t going to make a writer to begin with.

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4 comments or Leave a comment
From: optasia Date: October 12th, 2011 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I knew a man who would sit and read an English dictionary. English was his third or fourth language and he wanted to improve his skills. I saw that and wanted to go to my knees weeping and wailing in sackcloth and ashes because it made me realize that I take things for granted. I now keep an Oxford English Dictionary (British version, not the American version)on the table beside my bed and I read it. That man became one of my heroes. :)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 13th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

And for cause.

That is a quiet heroism that is alas all too thinly spread. Well done, the both of you.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 13th, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

oooh, dictionaries --

What we used to surf before the internet...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 13th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

And we were all...

... much the better for it.
4 comments or Leave a comment