Muse and Writer Dialogues #12

New Desk

New Desk


A room that passes for an office. There are bookshelves on two walls, a motley assortment of carvings, signed storyboards, and five guitars, but a lot of it isn’t on the walls yet. Except for the five guitars of various makes and models. The desk faces a blank wall. To the left is a window, and beyond that is a brown radiator cover with a printer perched on top. The floor holds paint, tools, and painting supplies, and an unopened window unit A/C awaiting installation. Rather like the artwork. WRITER is sitting at the desk staring at an almost blank screen. MUSE enters. From somewhere. She’s in Greek Goddess mode.


Muse: So these are the new digs. It’s a mess.

Writer: Don’t pretend to be surprised. This isn’t your first visit.

Muse: You mean while you were writing that last book? I had nothing to do with that.

Writer: So who was that, then? Your evil twin?

Muse: Nonsense. I AM my evil twin. I said I had nothing to do with the last book. I didn’t say I wasn’t here.

Writer: Is that an editorial comment? I thought the book turned out rather well.

Muse: You would, but that’s not what I meant. I meant you didn’t need me. Unusually for you, you had it pretty much worked out before you even started and you weren’t waiting for inspiration. You were going blue blazes most of the time. It was almost…impressive.

Writer: It’s not as if I had much choice. The deadline was fast approaching and I got a late start because of the move. So much got blown up last year. I was damned if I was going to let what passes for my writing career do the same.

Muse: And?

Writer: And the series had been heading for this ever since it began, so it wasn’t as if I could get lost now. I did know where I was going, but that’s only because your job was done before I even started. That really was impressive. Not to mention efficient.

Muse: I’ll take that as a compliment. So what now?

Writer (blinking): What…? I should be asking you that. Isn’t that your job?

Muse: I’m only a convenient personification of the idea of inspiration, remember? I’m just in your head…along with whatever debris and found objects you turn into stories. So let me hand you a little bit of insight–you don’t get inspired.

Writer: I don’t…?

Muse (shaking her head): Never did. What you do is recognize stories when you see them, and then you follow them until they’ve given up their secrets. So why am I even here?

Writer: Well…I talk to myself.

Muse: I’ve noticed that.

Writer: Then you should understand I feel a little more anchored when I’m talking to someone else instead. That’s you.

Muse: Can’t imagine why. I’m just another voice in your head.

Writer: Say rather a convenient personification of the idea of inspiration, remember? Not quite the same thing. Besides, I don’t buy your argument. Recognizing a story IS inspiration, so far as I’m concerned. You’re just pissed because there wasn’t as much left for you to do on the last project and you got bored. Fine. It’s time for a new project.

Muse: Have it your way. I’ll try to help you out with the winkling out its secrets part. No promises on the inspiration part. We’ll see if you’re right.

Writer: All I ask.

MUSE: You do know I’m going to keep bugging you about the state of this office, right?

Writer: Wouldn’t expect anything less.








Why I Hate the Bubble Witch

IMG_0486It’s probably an indication of how much I do not want to talk politics here that my main topic for today is how much I’m coming to hate the Bubble Witch. It was either that or my recent struggle to find an appropriate parlor guitar, and how my hopes were dashed when the Takamine G Mini I had my eye on was already sold and the dealer hadn’t updated his listing. Disappointing at least, annoying at most. In a nutshell—not that big a deal. There will be another guitar, and I’ll find it.

As for the Bubble Witch, some of you may know her. She exists in a game called Bubble Witch Saga, or something like it. I play it in idle moments on my android tablet. She conjures the bubbles, I use them to make combinations to clear obstacles and defeat this little skeleton-looking alleged baddie named Morgana. I say “alleged” because Morgana has never done anything to me personally, other than miming a maniacal laugh when I can’t land the right colored bubble on her sanctuary to banish her from the playing field. And that’s all that happens, really. She’s banished. Until the next time. Rather like real evil in the world, as opposed to Morgana. It’ll always be there, and all you can do is play whack-a-mole to keep it in check. You don’t play whack-a-mole and the Donalds…sorry, I meant moles, take over. And bad things happen, either to you or especially to people you respect, know, and love because then it will be open season on them. So playing whack-a-mole is important. Even crucial. Just don’t forget that it’s the game, and there will always be another mole. Or Pence.

Hmm? Oh, right. The Bubble Witch. So why does she annoy me more than the evil Morgana? Because she pretends to be on your side. She pretends to want the same things you want. She conjures the different colored bubbles. Blue, red, green, yellow, whatever, to make a three plus match and clear the path.She’s friendly and perky and stabs you in the back by giving you six happy green bubbles in a row, when all you needed to clear the level was one $%$@ yellow. Then she acts all sad that you lost the round.  Or the election, because you voted for a happy illusion instead of what your common sense told you.

So this time I’m voting for Morgana. Because moles.

Rocks in His Head

Herkimer Diamonds Mixed with Dolomite in Matrix

Herkimer Diamonds Mixed with Dolomite in Matrix

We spent most of yesterday at a Gem & Mineral Show just outside of Syracuse. Carol uses stones in her work and I’m just interested. Sometimes I think I might have turned into a rock hound if I hadn’t been born and raised in Mississippi. Some people managed it anyway, but I was never clear on how, since the place I grew up was just a small section of what was, for most of its geological history, a shallow inland sea. Dirt, I knew. Rocks? Not so much. I am reliably informed that there are rocks there, and you’d occasionally see evidence of it when the highway department had to cut through a hill to make a road, but outside of a few river pebbles and the odd chunk of exposed limestone, it was rare. I had to content myself with searching for fossils within road gravel, but seldom found anything other than fish vertebrae and sections of crinoids, which no one would believe were fossils because, you know, road gravel. I find it just a little bit ironic that now I live on the side of an ancient—really ancient, as in some of the oldest rocks on earth are less than a mile from my house—river gorge. There are more natural, native stones in our several retaining walls than I ever saw growing up. Go figure.

Received an email last week that Yamada Monogatari: The Emperor in Shadowis already going into production at That didn’t take long, considering they’d only had the manuscript for a few days. It’s likely—and hoped—that Brian Nishii will be doing the narration again. It’s possible that the audiobook edition will be available right around the same time as the print and ebook editions. Also, I may be doing a local signing for the book come publication day. Details are yet to be worked out, but I’ll post them here when/if they are.

Fireworks and Final Edits

YamadaEmperor-600Happy 4th to all those stateside. Our across the street neighbors apparently chose to celebrate by re-enacting the Battle of Bunker Hill. Our cats disappeared for a while but came out unscathed when the coast was finally clear. Not that I should complain. I went through my own phase of being enamored with firecrackers, but that was mostly because I was a kid in a small southern town and often there was literally nothing better to do. Read all the books/comics I had multiple times (no internet). Run out of scrap wood for tinkering. Night too cloudy for stargazing. I know! Let’s set off low-scale ordinance! What I have trouble understanding is why alleged grownups want to do it now. I grew out of it before I’d left my teens, and count myself fortunate I still have all my fingers.

Good thing, too, as I needed them to make final corrections on the typeset manuscript for The Emperor in Shadow, which from the link you can see now has its own Amazon page, and an official release date of September 6th. Which means it’ll more than likely be available in August, because that’s how these things usually work. Since it’s July now (What gave it away? Oh, right, fireworks…), that’s not very long, but why wait? You can pre-order it now and have it as soon as it’s available.

On that subject, I want to give a shout-out to my editor, Paula Guran, who turned the manuscript around in a short time under extremely trying circumstances, only one of which was me cutting it so close to the deadline. It’s a much better book for her efforts. Anything you don’t like falls squarely on me.

Playing Hooky

WRITING 02I shouldn’t be here. By which I mean that the line-edits for Yamada Monogatari: The Emperor in Shadow have arrived and I really should be working on them instead of fiddling with the blog. In my defense, I did work on them most of the morning, and will likely go back to them once I’m done here. For the moment I am, to put it bluntly, playing hooky.

Is that term still in use? It’s kind of old-fashioned, I know, and hardly anyone agrees on the derivation, even though it’s likely only 19th century in age.  It once meant something very specific–cutting school. By expansion, at least to me, it has come to mean doing something by preference when you really ought to be doing something else. There’s some irony there. In college I would often play hooky by writing stories when I was supposed to be be studying for a Technical Writing test or something of that–allegedly–more serious sort. For a time I considered writing the same thing as playing hooky, since there was always–always–something else I really should be doing. That’s no less true now.

There’s always another demand on your time. There likely always will be. Odds are you have a day job and have to fit the writing around that. Or tests to study for. Or a dinner at the in-laws. It’s always something. So I never got anywhere until I gave myself permission to choose writing over something else. Dealing with the guilt, yes, because we are free to choose but never free from the consequences. You have to decide for yourself where the balance turns. But if you fear anything, it should not be the guilt. It’s the time come and gone that will never come back.

So treat yourself. Play hooky.