Muse and Writer Dialogues #13

Just so you know. This is the kind of thing that happens when I’ve got a piece of flash fiction due and the trigger word isn’t triggering anything:

 

 

 

Muse (Dressed as Biker Chick. No flowy robes or any of that crap):  Not Happy.

Writer: Are you ever? So where’s my inspiration for this story?

Muse (making obscene gesture): I got your inspiration right here. Step closer and I’ll emphasize it for ya.

Writer: See? That’s the problem. You’re supposed to be my Muse, and all you do is snap at me!

Muse: I do what helps you the most. This is helping.

Writer: No, it isn’t! I got nothing.

Muse: This is my fault…why?

Writer: What part of “Muse” do you not understand?

Muse: I should ask you that. Apparently, the answer would be “all of it.” Listen, chump—I’m not real. I’m a metaphorical device. I know it and you know it. I only exist as some whimsy in that twisted noggin of yours. I can’t give you what you don’t already have, m’kay? I may help you recognize the fact you already have…whatever it is you think you need. I may even help you focus on one specific over another. Past that, you’re on your own. Now, what was the word again?

Writer (sighing deeply): Yield.

Muse: In your dreams.

Writer (sighing even deeper): No, that’s the word.

Muse: And that’s a problem…why?

Writer: Haven’t you been listening to me? I got nothing.

Muse: You can’t lie to me, because I know better. You’re just afraid you’re going to put words down and everyone who reads it will think it’s terrible. The truth is, you could put down something random and then build on it.

Writer: You mean like, “Yield, varlet!” and then try to justify it?

Muse: Well, let’s not get crazy. You can do better than that. Word of warning, though: You start typing the lyrics to “Men of Harlech” and I’ll pound you.

Writer: Fine, but in my defense, it does have the word “yield” in it. As in never do it.

Muse: Stop stalling. You’re always like this, and frankly, you’re working my nerves. I’ve got other aspects, you know, beside “Biker Chick.” Should I introduce you?”

Writer: Ah…no, thanks. I’ve met a few already. I’ll be good.

Muse: Good is for second and third drafts. Just get started.

Writer: How about, “The last of the Ships of the Line was taking on water, its sails shredded. “

Muse: Who are you, Horatio Hornblower? Get serious.

Writer: I’m always serious. Especially when I’m not.

Muse: Don’t pull that zen crap on me now. Your bullshit doesn’t work.

Writer: Okay, fine, you win. You always win.

Muse: Sure, but it would be nice if you’d just realize that up front and save us both, meaning you, the aggravation. Now, get to work!

Writer: How about this: “Contrary to the myth, banshees have been known to laugh.”

Muse: I’m listening.

Writer: “However, they only laugh in very specific circumstances. This is what happens to someone who makes a banshee laugh.”

Muse: And?

Writer: And that’s 500 words.

Muse: You’re a bastard. You know that?

A’ Mulching We Will Go

It’s spring. So there’s a lot of leaves around from last fall. Sort of like a letter from your old pal Autumn. Hi! Remember me? Thought I was gone, didn’t ya?  He takes after his brother, Winter.  Even when he’s gone, he’s not entirely gone.

So I bought a leaf mulcher. It’s basically a string trimmer turned on its back with a funnel to guide the leaves into the strings where they are chopped into, as the commercial says, “That’s some good mulch!” But honestly I don’t need the mulch. Neither one of us could be fairly called gardeners. We just like the leaves tended to rather than blowing around willy-nilly. At least mulch is good for the yard.

Rather like bits and pieces of old stories. I sometimes still refer to false starts, stories that went bad, snippets of notions and such “mulch.” Nothing’s really wasted. Maybe that false start was the right start, just the wrong story. Sometimes a bad story will finally tell you what it needs to make it good, or that snippet has a notion buried in it you weren’t ready to recognize at the time. Since half of writing is recognizing a good story when it shows itself, that’s a win. They’re all win.

Waste nothing.

 

Yamada Redux

First a quick couple of notes. The new Yamada story is finished, submitted and sold to Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  The title is “Uzumaki of the Lake” and it might come out this year, maybe autumn or winter. I’ll post it here when I get a solid date. Not counting the last two novels, it’ll be the first new Yamada story in seven years. I guess we both needed a break.

Break may be over though. I’m already mulling another one. We’ll see if it comes together. I hope so. I’ve missed those guys.

I hit a problem in the new novel which was slowing me down considerably, but I think I’ve got a handle on at least the next part, so that goes on.

I used to be a chess player, in that I played in HS and even played on the college team. The highlight of my career was getting a draw in a ten-board exhibition match with an A rated player. The lowest point was a HS tournament where a lighting fixture fell on my head. It was enough to make me wonder if I should consider another hobby. Regardless, I hadn’t even looked at a chess board in years when I stumbled across a couple of chess problems recently and solved them easily. I was never that good at chess problems (for those who don’t know, it’s a board set up so that one side or another can easily win or gain advantage,  if only they can figure out the right move).  It’s got me thinking about playing again.

Time just looks at me and laughs.

 

Spring? Maybe. A Little.

Another day of sunshine, and another new Yamada story. This one’s a true flash, so I likely won’t be expanding it, unless I reconsider some of the backstory I had to gloss over to make my word limit. Actually, there’s quite a lot there, now that I think about it. And a new character whose presence is ripe for making trouble.

Okay, maybe I will, the more I think about it. Yamada’s new situation does present some story possibilities I hadn’t considered before. Or maybe I just missed the guys, I don’t know.

I also need to get back to Marta…and Jing and Mei Li and that exorcist guy. I have been remiss. I have been up to my eyeballs, actually, but I’ve finally realized that’s not going to change…ever. I just need to find ways to work with it.

The short stories I can fit around the novel project, but not another novel. One at a time is my limit, I’ve discovered. I’m making progress, it just doesn’t seem like it most of the time.

Lately, it sort of does.

The Ides of March

Snow’s melting, and the Ides of March was just a few days ago. Richard Armour once claimed that was tax season in ancient Rome, but I haven’t been able to verify that yet. I do know that it’s tax season now, assuming one doesn’t want to wait until the last minute, and I certainly didn’t.

So yesterday was tax day for me, and I spent the entire afternoon, easily 4+ hours, putting it together. Since both my wife and I are self-employed, that’s a lot of receipts and a couple of Schedule Cs in addition to the normal forms. Of course, as soon as I emerge her comment is “That didn’t take long.” Felt long to me, until she reminded me, without computer assistance, it used to take a couple of days, an entire weekend,  and that was even before it got as complicated as it is. Yes, I’m old enough to remember doing taxes on paper.  Thank heaven for software and electronic filing.

A good reason to remind oneself: it could always be worse. Even if, in the country’s current situation, it’s hard to imagine how.

The Yamada story has been through First Reader and rewrite, and is currently under submission. Which is pretty much the situation with any story you’re not putting out yourself: hurry up and wait.

I should be thinking about another Yamada collection. I don’t have quite enough uncollected Yamada to do it right now, but it wouldn’t take more than a few more. I’ll find out later if I have those in me. Those currently uncollected are the later ones: “Three Little Foxes,” “The Sorrow of Rain,” “The Tiger’s Turn,” and the new one, working title “Dai-Uzumaki.”