Empty Phrases That Annoy Me

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Lately, I’ve noticed annoying phrases that writers and speakers use. One of the phrases is, “At the end of the day…” Other phrases include, “When all is said and done,” and “Alternatively…” And everyone is using the word, “literally” in the wrong context without even caring.

These phrases sound empty and they become irritating after several YouTube hosts or podcasters use them (which is virtually in every video now). The problem with using empty phrases that we pick up through osmosis is that they add nothing to the sentence. They contribute zero emotional appeal to the theme presented. And the person using the phrases comes off as trendy instead of insightful.

Authentic writing comes from the soul. It comes from carefully crafted thoughts and paragraphs. And when we use simple language that gets us from point A to point B we are more likely to engage the reader or listener. We can also use language rhythmically which many great speakers such as Martin Luther King, Jr. have done. One exercise that helps with creating rhythmic writing is to listen to music from around the world or at least jazz syncopation. The later is what made Jack Kerouac a compelling author.

When we read classic literature even books from the twentieth century we hear authentic voices. No two authors were alike and part of that was that book publishing sought diverse narratives that told the stories of that age. Even genre fiction lacked trite formulas that appear in modern books. Have publishers lost sight of the art and craft of writing compelling fiction. Or have authors (and speakers) become lazy?

I’m an author who spends time crafting a perfect sentence. And I champion authors who take a painstaking approach to get every word right. It’s not about stretching the word count to meet the current genre requirements. Nor is about waxing poetry in every paragraph. Yet, some authors move their stories forward with ease while also using words beautifully and powerfully. I purchase their books as opposed to just checking them out from the library (then forgetting about the books).

I encourage emerging and established authors to read the classics as well as, read books from various genres written decades if not centuries ago. Explore the language of that time. Explore the speech of the characters and how that speech helps readers visualize the characters. Also, explore succinct ways landscape is described and how the landscape transforms into symbolic language.

I’m glad I took English literature classes in high school and at a university. This exploration formed the basis of my novel writing decades later. Any of us can study English literature by reading classics and even joining a discussion group. Also, search for inexpensive online courses. I found two excellent editing and revising classes on Udemy. I saw creative writing courses offered too.

When we delve deeper into the language which we speak and write we are less likely to use borrowed phrases from the prominent people of our time. Now, some people enjoy hearing people use trendy phrases. And when they start parroting those phrases of their favorite political leader, celebrity, or YouTube host, they fit in with their peers. I just find it irritating on my nerves that the world lacks original speakers and thinkers like it did in the past. I sorely miss Joseph Campbell.

Perhaps, you disagree with me. But before you leave a comment to debate my observations, consider my words. As authors we invent new phrases. We recreate language. And we make characterization compelling while constructing plots that seem familiar but with an odd twists (we’ve not read yet).

And my message to agents and editors, open your minds and think outside of the box. I realize you’re in the business to sell books, even if they are banal creative non-fiction ghost-written for celebrities. Or maybe you enjoy the dark literature which only contributes despair and more fear to a world already dripping with anxiety.

You are decision-makers who determine what gets read and what stays in a slush pile. And in doing that you might have thrown a future classic into the recycling bin. And if it wasn’t you, then it was an intern who had been trained as a parrot instead of an authentic thinker.

Personally, I prefer that a young intern out of grad school not determine my trajectory as an author. That’s disrespectful to us authors who have been crafting stories for decades. We might not possess the glamour of an actress-turned-social-activist or any number of who’s who for the twenty-first century (written by ghost writers).

These are my thoughts for the moment. They might sound bitter. Or they might sound jaded. But I’ve been in the literary trenches for several decades crafting real stories that if given a pair of wings would soar.

Write It…Once Upon a Time & Other Beginnings

typewriter-584696_1920Unless we’re writing fairytales, we require original launches into our stories. Short story authors especially, wrote essays on succinct and enticing starts to short fiction. And this is doubly important with flash fiction. 

I once read a foreward to a short story collection where author Isabel Allende (one of the editors of the collection) mentioned that if you can’t nail your story within the first paragraph or two, the story won’t succeed. However, this sort of thinking often leads to writer’s block and other forms of procrastination.

For people such as me who free writes short fiction as oppose to plotting out my stories, I often balk at writing the introductions to short fiction. And yet, at other times, the stories come to me fully written complete with a seductive opening line.

Here are examples of introductions to both my short fiction and my novels. And my trick is to get everything on paper or on to a Word file. Then, I go back and rewrite the opening paragraphs. My writing grows stronger as I delve in more deeply with my characters and watch their movies in my thoughts.

 

“Marcos first encountered her face glimpsing through a crowd of shoppers. Next, he saw her slight frame draped in a black skirt that clung to her thighs and swirled around her knees, her white blouse hugged her torso and a pendant swung around her breasts like a pendulum.  Her body appeared and disappeared down the aisles of the natural grocer as she rushed about tossing tomatoes, mushrooms, mangos, and bags of flours into her cart, then ticking items off of a list—a true picture of elegance and efficiency.”—Apple of Seduction (short fiction)

“He never gave her the china cabinet or piano.  He gave her jewelry, clothing, china, and trinkets from countries he traveled to, but he failed to grant his wife the two things she wanted most in her life.”–The China Cabinet (short fiction)

“Miranda saw Pierre’s face reflected on a window of a coffee shop.  She battled against her doubts and stood frozen by the shop’s door, realizing that she could’ve pretended to browse the various exotic bags of coffee beans that strewn the shelves of the old world style shop. She could have drunk in all the smells of pastries baking in the back or reveled in the French swing jazz that wafted through the shop, but instead she dashed to the bus station to catch her connection.”–Love Quadrangle (novel)

“She fascinated me–the way Maggie flipped her hair back with a whisk of her hand while she played her instrument. All in one motion she swiped the hair away from her face and strummed her guitar without missing a beat.  In my foolish girl heart, I imitated Maggie–carefree and indifferent to consequences.”–Maggie Magdalene (short fiction)

I think this suffices as examples. I still go back to my old stories and rewrite or polish the introductions. As we evolve as writers, we owe it to ourselves to revitilize our archival stories by applying new tools and techniques. And often times, this proves more fruitful then starting from scratch.

Often times, our original stories already have solid bones. As we improve as writers, we don’t need to reinvent the stories but we do need to reinvest in them. Some stories haunt us for years until we flesh them out, polish the beginnings and strengthen the conclusions.

I have written screenplays, novels, and short fiction since my thirties. I concentrated on mainly poetry and song lyrics in my twenties. And I’ve learned that we must show up with courage in our hearts to embrace the creative spirit or muse. Some stories require finessing over the years until we get it right or get into the zone.

We surrender what doesn’t work and then we wait it out until inspiration fires us up. That could be one day, two weeks, or three years before that happens. In the meantime, we go back to the drawing board with a different story or work on another creative project. Then when the time is right and inspiration strikes, we write that seamless story that leaves our readers breathless.

All Rights Reserved, copyright Patricia Herlevi

Except image which is from Pix a Bay.

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Reluctant Vegan (Essay)

255px-Jack_Russell_catching_ball

 

Labels don’t interest me usually because they feeling limiting and often dangerous, like crossing over a threshold into unfamiliar territory. And when we slap on labels we are most likely seeking confirmation or validation from a group. This leads me to think that we wear labels because we have issues with self-approval.

So, I am reluctant to wear the vegan badge even though I am on board with the vegan practice, for the most part. But I also know that becoming vegan is not as easy as removing animal food products from one’s diet. And it goes beyond watching animal abuse documentaries, which are torture for me. Guilt is a horrible motivator that never leads to self-empowerment. And this is not to say that we wallow in ignorance either. However, I feel that if we inspire people to eat a vegan diet out of health reasons, and many people switch to a vegan diet, then the industries that abuse animals will need to change their tune (and draconian practices) or go bankrupt.

I feel that the idea of the perfect vegan (who doesn’t eat any animal products, not even honey and does not wear any animal products) is impossible for most people. Vegan and organic food, especially if it is also gluten-free are expensive. I spend over $300 a month on these types of food and supplements a month. So, this leaves me with only enough money to purchase my shoes and clothing at thrift stores and that means I wear leather, wool, and other used or recycled animal products. Since I wear leather shoes, I repair or replace my soles instead of purchasing new shoes. And I’ve worn shoes up to a decade or more.

However, when an idealistic vegan sees me wearing leather shoes, they have no idea that I’ve replaced the soles twice on those shoes and got those shoes at a thrift store. They have no idea how much I spend on food either. While, it is a good practice to discern and educate ourselves about where our food and other goods come from and how it was raised, treated, or produced, we’re never going to show up perfectly in our quests. We have many things to weigh. For instance, vegans say that it is better for the environment to go vegan, but not if you are wearing clothing and shoes made from petrochemicals which also cause damage to the environment.

Now, as far as health benefits, I have seen many vegans glow with radiant health after changing their diets. I have met people who have reversed diabetes, prevented heart disease and other illnesses. I have also met people who have suffered from digestion issues on the vegan diet (I’m among this group). If I eat goat yogurt once in a while, it reverses some of the digestion issues and then I eat a mostly vegan diet.

So, having said all that, the vegan diet has potential to improve health and well-being, create more sustainable lifestyles that benefit the planet, stop animal abuse and cruelty (although it takes some socio-political action too), provide food in greater abundance, create culinary opportunities for businesses, heal cognitive dissonance, etc…

Get educated. Find out where your food comes from. Stop living in denial. And then find the best path for you based on your core values and beliefs. Walk your talk to the best of your ability. And make improvements in increments.

Glittering Guns–Violence & Adrenaline High in the US

DSCN2331During late September of 1986, I arrived at a theater class in Saint Catharines, Ontario. I wore a fringe leather jacket and ripped Levis. Since I had boarded the wrong bus, I arrived a half-hour late for class. I felt self-conscious arriving at my first class in a foreign country where I didn’t know anyone. And the first thing the students said after the professor announced that I was an American exchange student was, “Where is your gun?”

True enough, the US has had (as long as I’ve been alive) an obsession with guns and violence. And the Canadian students who questioned me preferred watching the news out of Buffalo, New York as opposed to Toronto because it was more exciting with the latest shooting or other crimes south of the border. I just felt embarrassed by the violence in the news and I avoided watching the news from either country.

Fast forward to the summer of 1991 when I was in London hanging out with musicians in a club. Again, the topic of American guns and violence came up with the Londoners grilling me about the topic. They asked if all Americans had guns when they knew well that we did not all have guns. And many English people preferred American TV shows (cops and criminals) to their own television shows.

I remember going to a jam session in London where the two musicians watched episodes of Starsky and Hutch while I sat in the background trying to write a melody to a song they gave me on tape. True, I had grown up watching cop shows but by the time I was performing music, I had stopped watching violent shows because I had lost interests in them in favor of spiritual pursuits.

And today, as another tragedy involving guns appears in the US media (with replays to induce adrenaline rushes in viewers), I question why more Americans aren’t researching post-trauma and how this condition is the cause root of violent crimes, addictions, etc along with the poisons we call food, the electric magnetic energy we expose ourselves to constantly, heavy metals in vaccines, and so on.

And the answer that comes to me is that violence in the news sells too. It sells big pharma drugs; it sells insurance. It sells products to make us feel numb or high so we don’t have to face the real demon which is our own shadow. People say they want peace and then they sit in front of a computer or TV set absorbing the violence in the media. They either numb or pump up their energy with the substance of their choice while few people are dealing with their triggers for post-trauma. And don’t we all suffer from this condition by now? Why aren’t we taking PTSD more seriously?

Because if we did take it more seriously, we would not send more soldiers to war. We would banish violence from movies and TV shows. We would research the real effects of GMO foods, air pollution, electromagnetic energy, and come clean with experiments done on the human race by HAARP, Monsanto, big pharma, etc…We’re smart enough to do this but where is the will to come clean? When will we dig our heads out of denial and admit that our hearts have been shattered and require mending?

I tell you now it doesn’t matter how many yoga poses you learn at a retreat or the number of hours you find yourself in meditation. You can sing mantras for weeks on end and say your affirmations in front of a mirror each morning, but until we deal with the trauma that lies at the root of each of us and as a collective, we will not experience world peace–I guarantee it.

I thought I only needed to take a spiritual approach to everything and ascend over this madness in the world until I realized that I’m part of the madness. We all are. It is our egos that separates us from the perpetuators of crimes and yet these so-called criminals are projections of our own darkness even if we’re not the ones who pulled the trigger or ignited the bomb. We still played a part in our denial, our silence, and our inability to question the media, Hollywood, big pharma and every other component in our convenient lives that poison the well of humanity. And this includes our choice of words and communication styles with the people we’re supposed to love.

We can label people criminals and toss shame their way. We can toss people into prison or send them to the electric chair and that won’t heal the violence in the world. In fact, it will only perpetuate this morphogenetic field that is filled with genocide and other atrocities of our ancestors that is in each of your DNA. None of us gets off the hook. None of us are saints. And even the saints had dark ancestors if you know what I mean.

I’m not going to sit in front of a television set and trigger trauma. I refuse to watch violent images on constant replay nor will I tune into those videos on YouTube. I simply don’t want to see it. And I’m not going to punish myself with violent images. I don’t get high on that sort of thing even if others, less conscious do.

For my own country, I recommend free therapy for every individual living in the US that focuses on healing trauma in whatever form it shows up. I recommend more funding go towards neurological and brain research, including alternative modalities that heal neuropathways in the brain. I recommend ending all wars today and to stop sending people to countries to protect poppy fields (heroin) or oil or other addictive substances. And I recommend we get real with ourselves and each other and stop pretending like we don’t know what’s going on.

I’ve spoken with people on the bus from various walks of life and from various educational backgrounds (people with little education to people with post-doctorate degrees), and people know what’s going on in the world. But all this talk isn’t solving the problem even if some bonding occurs, even from the heart to heart.

So, today, I want you to take a deep breath and get centered. Then ask yourself how you contribute to both violence and peace on the planet. Then come up with a next step to heal your part of it. I’ll do the same. Thank you.

Essay for Woman Sleeping in an Attic

DSCN9920Procrastination is not my friend. Yet, the only work I have done on my second memoir that reflects on living in between homes (several times), comes out as essays. So, why not just write a series of blog essays and then transform them into a book later? 

And lately, memories of the first time I left Bellingham during the summer of 1986 mingles with the second time I left Bellingham three weeks ago. The first time, I left I felt hopeful as I packed up my Datsun and headed to Seattle to break into the music business. The second time, I loaded up a U-Haul truck and I only felt dread as I hauled my meager belongings to a storage unit just outside of Port Townsend. And then settled into my family’s home (not in Port Townsend).

When I was 22-years-old, I considered myself hopeful but still one of the walking wounded latch-key kids trying to make sense of my life. I had my entire life to map out and I mapped it out. I had plans for every area of my life and I had a schedule to keep. When I was in my twenties, I paid no attention to people over 30 and I certainly never expected to reach my menopause years or my fifties.

Like every young adult pursuing a career in the arts, I expected to live in a bohemian-style for several years until I got my big break. Only the bohemian lifestyle continued without the big break and the older I got I just seemed like a loser. I did not achieve what I expected to achieve. I did not marry or live in a formidable home. In fact, many times I found myself without a home at all.

I didn’t do everything right but I also didn’t do anything truly wrong. I made some bad choices, but I never took up the worst kind of habits. And yet, who was I to think that I wasn’t as wounded or dysfunctional as the alcoholics and addicts living down the hall from me in Seattle’s apartment buildings? The good news for the addict is that they get help a lot earlier as their addictions humbled them. While I stayed longer in denial and even acted smugly towards addicts or people suffering from mental illnesses.

And as many addicts I knew got their lives together and experienced redemption, my life kept spiraling downward despite the number of spiritual workshops I took or self-help books I absorbed into my subconscious mind. I experienced many ah-hah moments but I never experienced salvation. I had many people warn me about my defences but my ego shut them out. I thought despite the outward signs of my life crumbling into oblivion that I had it together or I would at least fake it until I made it.

So, as our U-Haul truck made its way to a storage unit in the middle of a cow pasture, I wondered with despair how I ended up in this transition. And my eyes opened wider when I met women from my childhood also going through transition. And then on FaceBook, a few of my friends also find themselves relocating to other parts of the country, getting divorced, or going through a complete overhaul of their lives.

And the Marvin Gaye’s words, “What’s Going On” swim in my thoughts as do water moccasins swim through the flood waters in the southern United States. And the land shifts in Mexico and enormous winds and rain plummel the Caribbean islands. Indeed, I ask why are their so many displaced people? And I think for many, this represents a humbling experience that breaks open our hearts.

In one of my channel sessions, my guides told me that at this time the weak are made strong and the strong are made weak. We are here to learn from each other. Those who suffered before us learned survival skills and now share those with us. We will emerge from coping to thriving. And my wish for everyone is to survive the transition that will lead us to the promised land.

 

Write it–Turning Distractions into Copy

DSCN6075Often times we think we’re going to sit down and write the Great American novel. Or we want to write the next big fantasy series. But we find that family members or elements of our life distract us from pursuing our novel-writing dream.

Sometimes life events interrupt our artistic pursuits. However, we can transform those distractions into art. Let me give you an example. While I worked on my romantic comedy novel, Love Quadrangle, I ended up living in between homes. While I had no intention of writing a memoir, my circumstances begged to be turned into a manuscript.

Then when I thought I had settled into a new home and I worked on completing my fantasy novel, Enter 5-D, I found myself living in between homes again. The scenarios I experienced with narcissistic types in my life, the peril of not knowing there I would rest my head on some given nights, and the trauma I healed in therapy sessions begged for another memoir.

And here’s the rub–I never wanted to write a memoir. I’m not the sort of person who wants to show up as a character in a book. Yet, the distractions in my life begged me to create narratives. And that’s how it works. Often times, and pardon my metaphysical exploration here, the Universe has other plans for us. We’re not supposed to be the next Harry Potter author. Instead, we are asked to tackle the big issues of our time by writing a personal story.

In fact, this is what happened to author Liz Gilbert. She published novels that didn’t really go anywhere. And then when she published her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, her writing career broke wide open. So maybe, the career move is writing the memoir about an experience with a universal appeal. That might be hard to swallow for authors who consider themselves purely fiction writers. And yet, we must travel to the place where we can mine gold and not stay stuck in a place that isn’t for us.

So here are 5 tips for turning your life events into compelling narratives:

  • Take copious notes while you are enduring a life-altering experience. If you don’t already keep a journal, start one.
  • Keep quotes handy from the people who appear on your path. And keep records of dates and locations.
  • Read how-to books on writing memoirs.
  • Join a writing group that specializes in non-fiction (if you enjoy the group support).
  • Take workshops on writing non-fiction

Another suggestion is to start a blog instead of a journal. This helps you build a platform and attract followers who you can transform into readers of your memoir in the future. And do get into social media groups of people going through similar experiences. However, do not rant in these groups as this just turns future readers off.

In the meantime, I am considering rewriting my first memoir (again) and getting started on my second one. I find that I require a distance from my experiences so that I can write from a clear head space.

If you would like astrology or metaphysical coaching advice for your writing projects, sign up for a session at Whole Astrology.

Write It–It’s a Process

375px-KushanmapI love that scene in the movie, “Under a Tuscan Sun” when the character Frances talks about her writing process. First, she says that she tortures herself through procrastination and then she is a writing machine. However, there is a difference between procrastination and a germination process. Stories, similar to fetuses, go through a gestation phase. Stories happen as authors absorb their surroundings and they endure life experiences.

For instance, I started panicking recently because I hadn’t written any literary pieces since last year. Granted, I was living in between homes for 9 months and the last thing I wanted to do was work on a novel. Yet, I completed rewrites for a memoir (still not satisfied with it) and I completed my fifth novel. And after that ordeal, I felt that my muse had run for the hills. Yet, I needed a vacation from writing fiction.

In the past few months, I’ve mainly been blogging and working as a contract journalist. And this leaves me feeling like a ghost of a writer. Instead, of creating stories from my imagination, I’ve been writing stories that promote the successes of other people. I experience satisfaction from journalism but I still miss playing with characters and creating scenarios.

And then, a young sassy voice showed up which launched my next short story which I’m currently writing. I titled the story, “Lately, Queen Mamadou” and the story features young ballet students from a private girls’ school and a mother who channels an entity from colonial West Africa. That’s all I’m going to say about this middle-grade comedy.

As writers, we practice patience. The best stories take the time to appear. And then we structure our days to pour these stories onto the pages. We have many excuses for not sitting our butts in the chair. But in the end, a true writer will face the blank page and muster the courage to explore new worlds we call stories.

What is your writing process? Please share in the comment section.

Before I wrote Novels, There Were Other People’s Novels

dscn3330I’m sitting here remembering my twenties and thirties which resembled a reading festival. I satisfied my hunger for novels by focusing on one author at a time, usually women authors. I began with Margaret Atwood and graduated to the magic realism of Isabel Allende. Then later, when I discovered Latin literature, I devoured those novels.

Many times, I was up to my elbows in unfinished books. I walked blocks from the library with books weighing me down. I attended a book festival in Seattle that took place in a pier on the waterfront. And I attended author events at Elliott Bay Books and then later, Ravenna Third Place Books.

I was in awe of authors. Besides, musicians, authors caused me to engage in hero worship. I read their biographies and interviews with them in which they would say that it took them five to ten years to write a novel. So when I wrote my first novel, Super-Nature Heroes in six months, I thought I must have sucked as an author. I had thought of writing a novel for at least a decade, but since I had not majored in English, I demurred. No, I thought, I will just leave novel writing for the experts or the real authors.

It’s hard to believe that since 2005, I have written five novels and none of them took me five years to write. But at least one of them took me several years of rewriting to get it right. And even then. None of my novels are published at this time. I went the self-publishing route for a short period in 2012-13 and stumbled through the process that ended in disappointment. I still believe that the right agents will come along and represent my novels. I am patient. I am older and realistic.

The downside to writing my own novels is I no longer place authors on pedestals–the allure has faded. However, when I pick up a novel that astounds me, I grow weak in the knees. Darn, I think, that author nailed it. I could never write that brilliantly. And no one is ever going to celebrate anything I’ve written.

That’s when I stop myself. Writing is not a competition unless you enter a contest. I’ve entered writing contests and I have never enjoyed it. Even if I won, contests are like comparing oranges and apples. And I despise the idea of people judging my work as if its a dog and pony show. Besides, I don’t want to compete with other authors. I prefer to join their club and read their work.

I prefer to kick back on a rainy winter’s day with a few novels waiting on my desk for me to crack open their covers. I prefer to explore someone else’ work and escape into the unknown. And I want to feel like I have climbed into a canoe with the author as he or she paddles us across a lake. And then when we reach the shore, I shake his or her hand and say a quiet thank you.

Photo and Essay by Patricia Herlevi, All Rights Reserved

 

Write It–Five Truths About a Successful Writing Career

DSCN3909Although many writers or emerging authors feel that they live at the mercy of the book publishing industry, they don’t. Creative people with good imagination skills also have powerful manifestation skills. This means, that if you remove unconscious blocks to success such as negative beliefs about not deserving success and if you visualize the outcome you desire, you manifest a book deal.

And if you stop believing in limitations such as there are only enough agents to go around, then you won’t manifest your desires. Writing a novel is a creative act. You once thought about the writing the novel. Then you researched your characters and themes. Then you wrote a rough draft and then you wrote your final draft. And all of this, you imagined first. If you can manifest a novel, you can manifest a publisher. Though it might not happen overnight.

And then, we need to develop our craft. Divine Timing helps us along this path and brings the right people to us at the right time. For some novelists, the journey between writing the first draft and publishing a novel is ten or more years. Others experience serendipity and end up publishing a novel they never considered writing at all. And while this leaves you scratching your head in puzzlement and envy, these writers posed no resistance to the manifestation. Sure, it looks like pure magic and in a way, it is.

So here are 5 Truths about Succeeding as a Novelist:

  1. Manifestation is an inside job. Instead of trying to align with movers and shakers in the publishing world, align with your manifestation in your inner world.
  2. Divine Timing is everything. Many writers, including me, tried to publish manuscripts prematurely. And thankfully, these manuscripts were rejected because had they been published, the critics would have devoured us.
  3. If you’re only writing a novel to make money from a publishing contract, then you’re on the wrong path. Writing is a journey of self-discovery.
  4. If you only think about what you’ll get out of a publishing deal and don’t care about your readers, then eventually you will fail.
  5. Rejection does not mean you lack talent. It just means, that you either need to return to the drawing board and make improvements or the readership for your book does not exist yet. Never give up unless you’re writing for the wrong reasons.

If you’re wondering why an unpublished author is giving you coaching, it’s because I’ve learned some challenging lessons on my writing path. This type of wisdom is just as valuable as wisdom from famous authors. And you too have nuggets of wisdom to share that you learned on your writing journey.

Write It–Waiting for the Muse

DSCN2318From 2008 to 2012, I was a writing machine as far as short fiction. Characters visited me when I walked through neighborhoods or rode the bus through town. I also had more free time on my hands. The downside was the amount of time I spent hunched over a laptop writing the stories which ranged from bittersweet dramas to laugh-out-loud comedies.

And while I enjoy writing short fiction, I haven’t had the leisure of writing any new stories since 2013. I concentrated on a non-fiction book on music, a memoir on housing struggles, and two novels. And like some of you reading this post, I panic because I feel my muse has escaped to Never Never Land, never to return to me. And then, what will I write?

So what are some activities we can do while we wait for our muses to return? Here is a list that ignites artistic flow and creates a home for a muse to reside. I’m also remembering that Hollywood movie about the filmmaker with the Greek muse.

  • Go for walks, not just in beautiful settings, but also in urban environments
  • Ease drop on conversations on public transportation and in cafes
  • Sit outdoors at a cafe and watch passerby
  • Photograph your favorite places and buildings (then you wonder about people in those buildings or places)
  • Daydream (Yes, I know, our mothers told us not to indulge in daydreams)
  • Take a short trip somewhere or take a vacation
  • Spend time alone (since others can jam up your flow)
  • Read news headlines but not the articles (come up with your own stories)
  • Spend time with children and ask them to tell you stories
  • Spend time in nature
  • Meditate or journal

Once you open up space for stories to enter, they show up. Be warned though that you could receive multiple stories at one time. That’s what happened to me and this meant that I spent an hour or two each day crafting short stories.

I am an astrologer and creative coach. Sign up for a session with me at Whole Astrology. I am also an author of several unpublished novels so I’m on the lookout for the right literary agent for my work.

Photo by Patricia Herlevi, All Rights Reserved