Muse & Writer Dialogue #14, aka Fool Me Once

Muse: You’re not trying to pull that stunt again, are you?

Writer (looking affronted): Whatever do you mean?

Muse: I mean you have a piece of flash fiction due Wednesday. Your attention is elsewhere, and so you play off me to get your word count.

Writer: No, that would be clever. We both know I’m not clever.

Muse: No, but you are sneaky. It often passes for the same thing.

Writer: Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that I was attempting to do so. You’re my Muse. Shouldn’t you help me?

Muse: That isn’t helping. It’s encouraging bad habits, and you already have enough.

Writer: Aren’t you even curious?

Muse (sighing): Fine. What’s the word?

Writer: Barefoot

Muse: And you need me for that?

Writer: I would appreciate your help, yes.

Muse: You’re a lower middle-class kid from Mississippi. You spent half of  your early summers barefoot. The bottom of your feet were so tough, you could run barefoot over a stubble patch and not even notice. And  you need my help for this?

Writer: Well, I admit the word works pretty well as an image, such as the one you supplied above. But you have to admit, as a theme it’s somewhat lacking.

Muse: You’re talking 500 words. You barely have time for a decent scene, never mind a theme.

Writer: But all stories have a theme, and I don’t do vignettes.

Muse: So fine, you were a kid from the Bible belt who avoids anything to do with Bibles. I’ve met vampires more in touch with their spiritual side. Tie that in with barefoot.

Writer: Nonsense. I’m very spiritual. I’m just not religious. And you’ve never met a vampire. They aren’t real.

Muse: Also nonsense.  You write fiction, remember? And by the way, neither are muses. Real, that is.

Writer: You show up here a lot for someone who isn’t real. And the idea of a muse has been around for centuries. That makes it real, in a sense.

Muse: By that logic vampires deserve the same courtesy. By the way, have you ever heard of the Leanan-sidhe?

Writer: Sounds vaguely familiar.

Muse: It should. You wrote a story about one, years ago. It’s a type of fairy muse who inspires writers and poets with inspiration so fierce they burn out and die young. Count yourself lucky you got me instead. Not real? At this point I’m as real as you are.

Writer: That’s not saying much.  I’m something of an artificial construction myself, or at least I feel like one.

Muse: Of course you are. You tell stories about yourself in order to understand yourself. And so does everyone else with more self-awareness than an amoeba. You’re all artificial constructions. The only difference is sometimes you get paid for it. And you think muses and vampires aren’t real? Talk about a mythological creature….

Writer: We’re digressing here; I’ll edit it out later. Let’s get back to barefoot.

Muse: You get back to barefoot. I’m done now.

Writer: Funny, so am I.

Muse: You made 500 words, didn’t you?

Writer: Nope. WE did.

Muse (string of expletives deleted): You….

 

 

 

 

Not Quite All

Fan mail is not so common that I get blasé about it. Last week I got a message from a gentleman who had read all the Yamada books, loved them, and was wondering if there would be any more. So far as the novels go, the short answer is “no.” By no, of course, I mean probably not, because I’m no better at predicting the future than anyone else, and that includes many futurists.

To my own surprise, I knew Yamada would be a series when I wrote the first ever short story (“Fox Tails)” set in his version of Heian Period Kyoto (called Heian-kyo, up until his time). Furthermore, I knew the series had a definite story arc from the time I wrote the second ever Yamada story, “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge.” Every story since then progressed along that arc until it was concluded in The Emperor in Shadow, the fourth book.

Now here’s where it gets complicated. Life stories, as in the story of anyone’s life, also have an arc. There’s a point where you enter the story, and inevitably, a point where you leave it. But here’s the difference—the story itself doesn’t end. It just continues with new people. Fiction isn’t like that. I thought Yamada had left the story, and that was that so far as the series was concerned. It wasn’t.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently wrote a new Yamada story. That was a total surprise to me. Now I think I may do a few more. He’s not quite done, and so neither am I. Together with the stories so far uncollected, I do imagine another Yamada collection is possible, but another novel? Seems like a long shot right now. I almost wish I could give a definitive yes or no, but the truth is I don’t really know, and I can’t pretend that I do.

As for the novella project (totally non-Yamada), I have two more major scenes to write after working backward to tackle some structural issues. This too could be a series. I don’t know that, either.

 

Adulting Sucks

The main problem with being a grown-up, at least in terms of age, is now and then you have to be an adult. Not all the time, granted, but more often than is either comfortable or convenient. So I spent most of yesterday afternoon on chat hold because my phone had stopped working. You can tell how much I value my phone AS a phone because it took me almost two days before I realized it wasn’t working.

Because I had to make some phone calls in my role as alleged adult. Anyway, after several hours wasted it turned out to be a misaligned sim card. So I’ll have to adult again later today. Not looking forward to it.

As soon as I sign off here, I have a story to write (and other things to write, but this one has a deadline). I don’t look at that as doing grown-up things. Making myself sit down and get to work? Sometimes. But the writing itself?

Never.

To All the Cats I’ve Known Before

You’d think I’d be used to typing with a cat on my lap by now, but it does provide some complications. Like their tendency to flex their claws into my knee if I’m not petting them often enough. Which means, less typing. Could mean more thinking, if one takes the time to pet the cat long enough to generate a purr, sort of their version of the ‘Ohmmmm.” Good for meditative states, probably not so much for chasing down a theme.

If someone asks if I’m a dog or cat person, I’d have to say “yes.” I grew up with both, and have owned and loved several dogs over the years. But when First Reader and I married, our living situation was such that dogs were problematic. So we started with cats, and have more or less kept with them, save for the occasional beta fish. There was Early, the calico, so called because that’s when she wanted to play, and wake us up. She liked to sleep in my manuscript boxes. In the attic is a box of such boxes, and I have no doubt, if I opened a few and looked closely, I’d find a few Early hairs.

There was Cobweb, the Persian, who liked to eat the furniture. Fizzgig and Summer (pictured above), American Short and (Calico) Longhair, respectively. Fizzgig was probably as close to “normal” as any of them. Summer was a little nuts, even by cat standards. She was a rescue, as almost all of our cats were, save Cobweb. Summer hated men. I’m sure she had her reasons, but most of the time she was First Reader’s cat, and could barely stand to be in the same room as me. It was only in her later years, when I suspect she was getting a little dotty, that she warmed up to me at all. One day she even climbed into my lap. I had to call First Reader over to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. “Are you seeing this??” By this time she was an only cat. This suited her fine, and we resolved not to change it until she passed on. She was our longest lived cat.

There was also Valentine and Cameo, both gone way too soon. Sweet cats, both.

Now it’s Sheffield and Sterling, two gray and white brothers who forget they are brothers half the time and get salty with each other. Or just play too rough, I guess it depends on how you look at it. I hope they’re with us a good while longer, despite the fact that they take turns crawling into my lap when I’m trying to write.

Mice parts on the rug? I could do without that. No matter. It’s just part of the gig.

 

Calling in Sick

It’s what you used to do when, you know, you were actually sick. Or really, really wanted to make an out of town concert or somewhat and knew you couldn’t possibly make it back. That’s not something I did very often. I liked my job, liked working, and it helped me keep my schedule tight. I knew what was work time, what was writing time, and how to keep the two separate. I have to confess I still haven’t gotten this new existence thing sorted yet, but still working on it.

All by a rambling way of saying this has been a rough several days. That’s right; I’m sick. Probably a sinus infection. I’ve had them before, though I think this might be the first one since moving up here. To cut to the chase, I hadn’t eaten in nearly four days. I’m only exaggerating a little. I’d had a dish of fruit, a bowl of cereal, and two pieces of toast since Thursday. The thought of food was disgusting. It’s not that I couldn’t eat, I just didn’t want to.

I woke up this morning thinking, “Today I’ll try.”

Still wasn’t hungry, and certainly didn’t want anything I was capable of making, and didn’t feel like going out. Take out it was. I’ve had soup and a little mei-fun. Not because I especially wanted it, I just thought I should. So far so good.

But for anything like a proper blog post? I’m calling in sick.