Tag Archives: muse

Dreamscape

Well it’s the usual Friday, except it’s still pouring and it’s a long weekend and I’m going to try and camp. Ick.

But I’m going to relate a dream I had two nights ago. It was amazingly visual and perhaps this was one of those muse visits. In the dream:

I’m driving some kind of Rolls Royce down the highway and several people in the car (I have no idea what they looked like) said I was going too fast. Then we’re in this meadow, which is hummocky with sparse trees, a few old locks and rocks. It’s light green and brown and looks an awful lot like my friends’ ranch in Clinton, BC. I’m driving down the middle trying to avoid various humps when a moose comes up to the car. It’s small for a moose and has moss on its antlers.

Then up the middle comes this amazing animal. It looks like a deer but in truth it is made of wood and moss and twigs and leaves and its alive. We just stop and look at it, noticing its dark eyes.

Next, as dreams do like to shift, I’m walking with some people into a glacial snowy area. There is a huge mountain and something like a high white shelf piled with hundreds of feet of snow. I look up think it looks pretty weighty and then proceed into the cave that turns into this long, downward sloping roughly chopped snow tunnel. It is in pale shades of green and white and light blue and just at the bottom I can see it starts to slope up again.

Then we hear a rumbling and great torrents of ice and snow flood up the passage, an interior avalanche. I manage to crawl out some side holes between the grey rock with two other people. Five are left in there including two friends, Karin and Eric (who I haven’t seen in years). Once it stops we go back in to find them and all the snow has turned to sand. We pull each person out from under the sand and besides being slightly damp and unconscious, they wake and are fine.

A friend of mine likes to interpret her dreams but I’m not sure I can with this. The interactions with nature were very strong. And groups of people mattered but were mostly anonymous.

Many of my dreams are muse driven, that is, they end up becoming stories. I don’t think this one will and even though there was that avalanche the feeling in the dream was one of wonder, where no one was injured. The colors were vivid and important, and I really hope this is not just a portent of early winter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, entertainment, environment, fantasy, life, myth, spirituality, Writing

Music Magicians: Eno & Byrne

A new collaboration between David Byrne and Brian Eno has come out, their first in thirty years. If you don’t know who they are, Byrne is of Talking Heads fame http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Byrne and Eno is just a god. He’s produced numerous albums including work on David Bowie’s, U2’s and Coldplay’s albums to name a few, not to mention his work with Roxy Music and Talking Heads.

I’ve always considered Brian Eno an artist first; an innovator, a sculptor. Far more than a musician he experiments with sound. He did some of the first samplings in music when he and David Byrne produced My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (which coincidentally I found the book with same title years ago, by Amos Tutola about an African shaman–I never quite finished it as it’s very nonlinear). I love some of his early albums, which to me have not become dated because they’re just so different. Taking Tiger Mountain and Another Green World are two of my favorites. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_eno

Eno’s Ambient Music (for airports etc.) never did strike me as being more than sophisticated musack but he was working with nearly subliminal perceptions and gradual changes in music that go unnoticed until you go, hey, that changed somewhere along the line. I always liked the quirkier stuff. I don’t have everything and need to still find a lot of these in CD, if they exist. Eno and Cale have always been a bit more eclectic and experimental and the pop rock crown may never have heard of them. But anyone who is a serious musician, especially knows of Eno’s work. He’s been listed on some albums as playing the Eno or something may have been Enoized.

One of my all time favorite albums ever is Wrong Way Up  by Eno and John Cale, he of the Velvet Underground. Unfortunately I had it only in tape and was hoping to transfer it to CD before it was stolen from my car (who steals tapes these days?). So now I’ll need to see if I can buy a CD. I’m hoping it exists. You can never tell with these guys.

Anyway this is their new album, Everything that Happens Will Happen Today, exclusive through the internet right now, and that’s where you order it.  http://www.everythingthathappens.com/

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, entertainment, music

Worlds of What If: Story Ideas & Oz

I recently wrote a story about Dorothy, ten years after Oz, where she still lives in Kansas. It involves the shoes showing up suddenly in her closet. It’s barely fantastical, might be called literary.

I sent it to a speculative fiction magazine where it was rejected. The comment was that the protagnonist didn’t do enough and, what about the other 15 Oz books and what they covered that people knew so well. I can live with criticism and comments on what doesn’t work but I didn’t find the comment about the Oz books helpful nor true to the whole genre of speculative writing.

Worlds of what-if includes looking at something and saying, what if it did this instead of this? What if Snow White had actually enslaved the dwarfs to work for her and they were brainwashed? What if the Germans had won WWII? What if magic did exist and it caused a worldwide class system? There are a thousand examples of where someone takes a pre-existing concept or event and changes it.

Fairy tales have long been in the realm of public domain and many have been rewritten and retold in varying ways. The most popular example would be anything that Disney has touched, to the extent that some people think that the Disney version is the one and only. But fairy tales have a long tradition of orginally being oral tales that were eventually written down by the Grimm brothers and others. Once they hit print, they didn’t change and adapt with the times as much, but they did still change. Writers still took those ideas and played with them.

L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz was written in 1900 and published in 1901. It’s been around long enough that it is now in our memories. When I decided to write the story I actually had to go read the book, because like many people, I was more familiar with the movie. I didn’t read the other 13 books (not 15). Though they were popular it was that original adventure that caught so many people’s imaginations.

Asking, what if this happened to Dorothy is a valid question. But perhaps I’m just an angry rejected author. Well, I have given examples of other what-ifs, but let’s look at two that I just found this week. Yesterday, I was listening to CBC Radio’s Wiretap http://www.cbc.ca/wiretap/index.html There were two stories: What if the Penguin and Mary Poppins met on a blind date? And what if Barney accidentally killed Dino in Bedrock? Hmm, if I was the editor that rejected my story because I didn’t consider the other 13 books, then I could also say but Mary Poppins never met the Penguin. What about all those other Batman comics. Or, but Dino never died and what about all those other Flintstones cartoons?

Okay, well, those are closer to the point I’m making but not about Oz. Then I came across the following article this weekend in the Dec. 2007 issue of Wired.

Tin Man–SciFi Chanel’s three-part reimagining of The Wizard of Oz, premiering Dec. 2, blends steampunk and Buffy. Heroine DG (Zooey Deschanel) battles the evil Sorceress (Kathleen Robertson) to free the oppressed residents of The O.Z. The Tin Man (Neal McDonough) is a more-dreamy-than-tinny ex-cop resistance fighter, and the Scarecrow (Alan Cumming) is a victim of grand theft brain. Cheesy? Absolutely. But it’s also clever and wonderfully geeky.

Steampunk and Buffy? The Tin Man is an ex-cop? Oh my goodness! But…but…. I think my point is made that it’s valid to take a character, a time, a place and ask what if? It’s valid to not slavishly follow what has been written but to take some elements and fly off into the worlds of imagination. As to my story, well, I’ll continue to send it out and see what the editors think.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, fairy tales, myth, Writing

The Muse: When a Story Sings

As recently appointed, senior fantasy editor for Aberrant Dreams http://www.hd-image.com/fiction.htm I have the privilege to accept a few stories and the job of rejecting many. In truth, I have several slush pile readers who sift through the stories first. As well, I haven’t been senior editor long. This was in part to move the backlog along. The editor-in-chief, Joe Dickerson, also began publishing some novels. Between that and running the website and making final decisions, well, the webzine was grinding to a halt.

It’s still in the jerky throes of getting up to speed and I certainly can’t speak for the horror or SF editors but we’re now answering within the 5-month limit indicated at www.ralan.com  I haven’t yet seen my first picks go up and it could be a while to get through the accepted backlog, but hopefully we’ll see a bit more new work. Before that, I was a reader for about a year. I took on the job for several reasons. I have, in recent years, wanted to edit a magazine or anthology. If you don’t have your own wad of cash, then it’s working for another mag and the positions are few and far between.

I saw the ad for more editors and applied. My other reason was that by reading what other people are writing I might get a better idea of what the trends are, as well as why some of my own stories don’t sell. Becoming senior editor meant that I also would now choose which fantasy stories would be published.

With every story I’ve rejected I’ve tried to tell the writer why. It helps me concretize what is a good story, both for them and me. I also know that as a writer any constructive comment in a rejection is rare and writers really appreciate having an idea of what didn’t work besides the ubiquitous “it’s not right for us,” which can mean so many things. There have been a few stories I’ve had to reject because I have a quota. Those were the hardest and if several were of a similar theme (magical mystery, ghost, heroic, etc.) then I would narrow within that theme.

A story that I’m most likely to accept is one that sings. It’s how I describe it and what it means isn’t exactly exact. But to sing means it stands out above the rest, is somehow noteworthy and memorable so that I might be thinking of the story or characters weeks later. Some of those singing qualities can be a world/scenario so unique that no one has written on it before (either created completely by the author or a very new POV). It can be a voice (the style of the writing) so catching that you’re carried along by language and description. It can also be flow and conflict; a story so touching, terrifying, thought-provoking that you sit up and pay attention.

It’s a delicate mixutre and some people have a natural knack for it. Most of us mortals have to work at it and sometimes the story, the description, the language, the world, all come together to form the perfect piece. And then the story sings. I’ve learned a few things so far in editing for a magazine. Perhaps it will translate into one of my own stories and the muse will visit more often.

Leave a comment

Filed under fairy tales, Publishing, Writing

Musings on the Muse: Early Inspirations

I always knew I wanted to be an artist (after brief thoughts of being a doctor, a nurse and police woman) from the age of six. At that time it was drawing. But the earliest influence on my mind and expanding my worlds was in reading.

I’ve already talked a bit about some of those books in Worlds of What-if. There were Aesop’s Fables, Br’er Bear and Br’er Rabbit, various fairy tales and myths such as the Norse tales. I began writing around the age of twelve, for myself, and like every teenager, some was emotional, angst-ridden. I still have some of these poems and it was only a small number like that. Many were exploring philosophies; time, infinity, death, birth.

 In grade 9 I took a creative writing class instead of regular English. My spelling and writing were good enough that I could miss it. I think the class was actually called Communications. At that point, I began working on writing a book. It was handwritten and I managed fifty pages of single-spaced text. I still have that partial book somewhere at home. I think at some point in the past I actually typed it up but I don’t think it’s on the computer. I don’t remember a ton about it but the character, Carla Adamson, was in the desert and her husband (ex-husband?) was trying to kill her. But…I think there was going to be an alien intervention.

I was influenced by the fantastic from the beginning. Besides the articles in the newpaper of the future in grade 7, this was probably one of my first fiction scribblings. I continued to write poetry, which was less fantastical and just more straightforward. Then I got a job in a book store; comics, fantasy and SF. Ordering the books, reading the tales every day, cemented the genre in my head. It was then that I started to write a few stories.

I took a writing course at UBC. Then, I applied to the Clarion Writers workshop in Seattle in 1987 and was accepted. That was the true beginning of me taking my writing seriously. I began to send it out then. I’m still not sure it was the right thing, to take it seriously, but here I am, writing writing writing.

Leave a comment

Filed under fairy tales, myth, Writing

More Musings on the Muse

From: 94stranger
http://94stranger.wordpress.com

CAMELOT

I shall ride high to meet
the lords of barley;
I shall ride by and parley
with the lords of wheat
and where the brook runs down
to Camelot, I shall dismount and drink –
ere there is blood in the water, and the mighty sink;
beneath the patient oak where in the shallows wink
the pieces of the crown.

This is the full text of the poem.

I’m going to write an extended post on this on my blog, under the title ‘exploring Camelot’, so anyone interested should be able to find it there shortly. However, as a kind of preview, I’ll run through the production of the above.

Sometimes, I find myself with a kind of ‘inner itch’ and then out pops – something. In this case, it was the first two lines, exactly as above. ‘What rhymes with barley? I asked myself, ‘parley’ came straight back, ‘and wheat rhymes with meet’ – then I had, almost immediately, lines three and four. The emotional impetus of this carried me forward, and lines five and six, which are the core of the poem, and told me sort of what it was about, came also almost at once. Then the flow dried up, and the rest was blood, sweat and tears – and the result (those last three lines) is far from really pleasing me, I have to say.
More later on my own blog, including further musings on your musings, Colleen

To me the core of your poem is the last three lines. I find that they give a depth and history of the image made by the first six lines. I think the semi-colon confuses the meaning. It could read (without it) as “and the mighty sink beneath the patient oak” which then adds to the image of blood in the water and bodies sinking into the ground. To me, if the poem ended at the sixth line, it would be a nice image but would have no further context. Leaving off the last line (with some tinkering) would still give a story, a history to this image of Camelot, but the last three lines bespeak a time of glory and a time of turmoil, the future falling of Arthur and Camelot, where even the trappings of splendor come to naught and all that is left is the natural world: the oak, the water, the lords of wheat and barley.

I actually like those last three lines best of all. But again, by themselves they would not give a complete picture.

As with most musings with the muse, sometimes it is the picture or the line you are given and then you’re left with what to do with that and how to use it.

5 Comments

Filed under spirituality, Writing

The Muse

writingMany people ask writers (and I presume, other artists), where do you get your ideas?

I think, though I’ve never done a study, that some people get their inspiration always the same way. But for the majority of mortals the muse may or may not come and our ideas flow from various sources. My ideas come from many sources. The least likely is that I see a call for submissions on a particular themed anthology, say, spotted flying pigs. If the idea really hits me, or I have something in the works, I’ll give it a go.

A fair number of my ideas begin with dreams. It might be a world, an image or a conflict. Dreams are tricky things, though. They follow their own logic. They make sense at the time but the scene changes are sudden and sometimes psychedelic. A story based on a dream often takes straightening out on the chronology, as well as adding a flow and logic that might be missing or too obfuscating. The novel I hope to work farther on this summer (a fantasy novel on a different and complex world) was based on a dream. It was very detailed, with conflict, hierarchy and politics. I couldn’t pass that up.

Often I will think a what-if. What if people breathed through their eyes? What if flowers grew underground? What if we were invaded, not by highly intelligent and technologized lifeforms, but by microbial life that changed us into creatures unfit for our world? A galaxy of what-ifs. They’re only the starting point, the basis of a setting. The conflict, personalizing (adding the characters) is always the hardest, for me anyways.

Sometimes stories start with a random image, a phrase, something someone says or does. I once had some day surgery, a laparoscopy, which involves several small incisions. Anything invasive takes the body time to heal. I had to wear loose clothing for a couple weeks and would experience some pain and discomfort. I said at one point, “It feels like I have a black hole in my stomach.” From that phrase I started working out a story, which started with, “Jenny has a black hole in her stomach.” I sold that story “Consuming Fear” very quickly to the Northern Frights anthology.

Once in a blue moon the muse truly hits. I’m not sure she’s truly taken over more than once. I was in the middle of a story, writing along when these phrases and images started pouring into my mind. I finally had to just put aside the story I was working on and write the other one. It flowed out in just a few days, in a lyrical style quite different than my style in other stories. “The Fishwife” sold to Descant, again on its second or third submission.

But most of the time we can’t wait for the muse. It’s no surprise though, that through history writers sought their muses in opium dens, drugs of various sorts and drugs. We look for things to inspire us, to move us beyond the norm, to fire our imagination with a story that should be told. I try to remember the muse moments and see if I can sometimes draw on those styles. But in the meantime, I look for ideas and sometimes plod through a story, one paragraph at a time.

4 Comments

Filed under Culture, entertainment, fairy tales, fantasy, myth, Publishing, spirituality, Writing