The Fickle Muse

If you’re a writer or know someone who is, this is not a new topic for you. You know exactly of whom I speak.

In case this term confuses you, the Fickle Muse is the elusive creativity creature. Generally, the FM is considered female, but I contest it has no particular gender, only a tantalizing nature and frustrating habit of appearing with a splendor of inspiration at the most inconvenient times. Then, when needed, the FM is nowhere to be found.

For this reason, writers can be seen working at three in the morning, arriving at their day jobs harried and exhausted, impatiently scribbling on a cocktail napkin or class notes in hopes their feeble reminders will stiumlate them later (which they rarely do), or halting conversations, sometimes in midsentence. If you are a friend of a writer, you may be familiar with the late/early (it’s all relative, right?) phone calls, abrupt conversation switches or endings, and random beginnings. For maintaining your friendships with your writer, I salute you. This cannot be an easy task.

The Fickle Muse always knows when best to come, and for me, it is almost always when I’m busiest with work. When my mind simply can’t spare the room and distraction of an idea, when time does not allow extraneous writing, the FM will strike quickly, and without warning. Sometimes, the Fickle Muse enjoys to interrupt writers in the middle of other work, a shower, or even wake their writer host from a peaceful sleep. I have witnessed and experienced this.

And yet, what would we do without our darling Muse? Pages of uninspired writing, mulling the same idea aimlessly for years would be for naught if the lightning of inspiration didn’t finally strike.

Writers have many methods for dealing with the Fickle Muse. Some carry laptops or notebooks. For me, I am lucky enough to have friends to help me remember. Sharing the idea often helps me remember it, and if I don’t, someone else knows. Even better, I have feedback and accountability, and there is nothing better for my desperate mind when the Muse strikes and I’m in no position to write.

Someday, I hope to find a place that will hold the fleeting thoughts that can strike at any moment- or even better, have the time to write at any given moment. Until then, I depend upon my helpful friends for their memory space and precious feedback. To you, I give my thanks now- even if I don’t always remember at the moment. Thanks for your patience with my flighty ideas, for the circular conversations that accompany them, and for the ideas you help me develop just by talking.

Cheers for now, Inklings, and all the best for a successful week.

P.S. I recently updated my blogroll- I recommend giving it a peek when you have time. There’s much blogging fun to be had and read.


Bonus Post

It’s a nasty day outside, and I don’t really want to work. I found this, and I thought I’d share it for pure entertainment.


Random Thoughts for the Day:

1.   I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2.   Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

3.   I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

4.   There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5.   How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6.   Was learning cursive really necessary?

7.   Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5.  I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8.   Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9.   Bad decisions make good stories.

10. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.  (Just for my favourite roommate. Hope your day improves. Hugs!)

11. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

12.  I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring, but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?

13.  I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day.

14. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15.  I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16.  I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

Beka Cooper: Bloodhound

Bloodhound is the second in the Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce. Rather than picking up just at the end of Terrier, Bloodhound moves forward in time, just a bit. Beka has been a dog for some time now, but still does not have a consistent partner. Her determination and dedication to the job make it hard for her to compromise her missions the way some of the other dogs are wont to do.  Still maintaining her friendships with her companions on the other side of the law, Beka works hard to focus on her own ideas of right and wrong, which seems to leave her would-be partners far behind.  When new problems arise in Corinth, Beka, Tunstall, and Goodwin help settle a riot. In the process, Tunstall is seriously injured, forcing him to take leave. Goodwin and Beka must leave Corinth to investigate an influx in faux currency. Oh… and did I mention Beka now handles a hound (a real hound)?

That is about all I am willing to say, plot-wise, without giving away too much.  I have to say, Beka comes back just as strong as she began. In Bloodhound, we readers learn much more about Goodwin, and she becomes more human but still completely Goodwin. Beka has even more delimmas, both professional and personal. The twists in Bloodhound are constant and Ms. Pierce works hard to keep at least one step ahead. Her skill with creating engaging characters is excellent, and she adds even more in Bloodhound. She artfully weaves new cultures into the story, adding an extra flavor to the mood. Throughout, the novel is both fun and conflicted- just like Beka’s experience in the story, which makes it move quickly and difficult to put down once you begin reading it.  As usual, there is a lot going on here.

Like in Terrier, Beka works through a number of realistic issues, each of which is expected at her age. Beka has gotten a little older by Bloodhound, and so the book is a little older as well.

First, Beka has conflicted love interests in this book, as Rosto finds himself in competition with the gambling pirate, Dale Rowan.  Fortunately for Beka, these two stay far separated (and Rosto has limited knowledge of Dale) due to geography. Here, we see a common love-triangle competition, but we have the added advantage of Beka’s inner debate. Beka is insightful enough to weigh the kinds of relationships she has and sees, comparing hers to that of Goodwin and her husband, Tunstall and Lady Sabine, and her many other friends.  We watch Beka debate within herself the kinds of relationship she has with each of the other characters in order to determine what is the right one.  This is a significant improvement from the vague “I like both” debate we sometimes see.  Young readers learning about relationships can learn from Beka not only how to consider their own relationships, but understanding that relationships with different people can differ from each other, and the reality is that relationships can be genuinely confusing.

Secondly, we delve a bit deeper into the idea of mixed virtues.  While Beka has been friends with those “on the other side of the law” for some time, we see in Bloodhound more questionable behaviors from engaging characters. Additionally, not all of these fun characters are as “good” as they seem. The question of “good” or virtue is gently twisted around and considered throughout Bloodhound in an engaging debate.

Finally, one of the biggest debates in Bloodhound is the notion of change and growing up. Bloodhound sees lots of changes from the beginning: Beka repeatedly changes partners, and then changes location.  Many of the characters in the first book are not as involved in Bloodhound, with the particular exception of Goodwin. In addition, more changes are coming in Beka’s life, and in the experience of the readers- but, I’ll have to let you see those for yourself.  Throughout, Beka negotiates and considers change and constantly has to cope with it. This is an important skill to learn, and even more difficult to manage- even for adults.

Beka in general is becoming a great young adult character; even now, she makes big mistakes with big consequences, and takes responsibility for her actions. She is an example of determination, fortitude, and personal growth. Few people are as true to self as Beka can be. The complexity of her life reflects the complexity of reality- and that is a rare find in fiction, especially for younger readers.

Inklings recommends Bloodhound, and is excited to read the next in the series.  However, due to some older content (complicated situations, mild sexual content, and overt flirtation), this is probably best for a slightly older readership.

Attributes include adventure, comedy, skillfully unraveled story-line, engaging characters, emotional appeal, and some quotability.

Next review will come soon, but I have no idea what book that will be, yet. I am open to suggestions. 🙂

Pavlov, Eat Your Heart Out

Most writers will probably tell you that they have ways of becoming inspired, be it music, lighting, or location.  I discovered early in my writing experience that I am inspired by water- in any form. I first noticed this when I came up with all of my best ideas in the bath. Later, I also got ideas from showers and swimming. Why is this? I have no idea. Knowing why something inspires you is probably not nearly as important as knowing that it does.

My most interesting observation in this subject of late came from working at an internship for school. Part of the week, I stay in a dorm where the hot water takes a long time to become, well, hot. Now, I run the shower for a long time- sometimes more than twenty or thirty minutes before actually taking my shower to have warm water.  During this process, I discovered that lo and behold, all I need for inspiration is to run the shower.  Actually being in the shower is no longer necessary for inspiration (although still a crucial element in hygiene).

My internal writer is thrilled by this development, because not having to have actual contact with water will make the ideas much easier to record as they are flowing (yeah, I made that pun, and I meant it- it’s Friday, people.), whereas I had to somehow file the thoughts in my not-so-dependable brain in order to get them to paper. Even better, this reiterates the fact that I really should move to a place near the water and take time to work out on the beach or something (Aruba, anyone?).

The psychologist in me (who is just as loud and obnoxious as the writer, if not more so) is terribly amused by this development, per today’s title. While the cause behind my reaction (inspiration for writing/ great ideas) to the stimulus (being in water) is still a great mystery, the reaction (inspiration) has generalized to a larger stimulus (water in general).  There you are, your review of Pavlovian Behaviorism for the day.

So, the question of the day: What inspires you?

Free life suggestion of the day: Go out and find that thing. How can you bring it into your home? Workplace? How can you derive some motivation from your personal “element” (acknowledging that it may or may not be a periodic or one of the earthly elements- fire, water, air, sun, etc.)?

Feel free to share your inspiration- this isn’t just a one-way blog. I can use some extra inspiration tips, anyway. I showed you mine, now show me yours.  If you want to.

Cheers and have a great weekend! I will have a reivew of the second Beka Cooper to you soon.