Friday, April 11, 2014

My Garden, My Muse

So, the past couple weeks have been a time of cogitation and clean-up. Time to prepare for the new. New season of growth. New book to write. Hello, Muses?

I'd planned to clean up the back yard, hoping the tree trimmers, who should have come two weeks ago, might have, by now, hacked down the dead secondary trunk of a huge Norway spruce. No such luck.   

So, instead of working in back, I decided to jump into a nasty but necessary job in the front yard. I have a few shrub roses which, if allowed, would grow far too huge for the bed they occupy. They're lovely and decked with wicked thorns.

Now, when I have thinking to do on a project, especially defining characters and outlining plot, I find the garden a great place to do that. If I sit indoors at the computer, I find I'm spending more time thinking about what I should be thinking about. That is, running the hamster wheel. Getting nowhere. But with the intention in mind, if I occupy myself with a manual task, my mind is busy with that and can allow the below-the-surface flow to happen. It's when I don't think about it that, often, the best thinking happens.

What do I mean? Well, those three thorny beauties are sited on a slope, making for unstable footing. Their canes had grown long, thickly entwined, and I tackled them without the bother of walking all the way back to the garage for my gloves.

So, I'm cutting back, hauling out branches, clipping them for the trash barrel, stacking them, pushing them down. I'm sure my blaspheming could be heard next door (it's okay, my neighbors are cool) as those branches lacerated my hands, while the possible antagonist(s) simmered.

I don't know. Maybe it was the satisfaction of taming the bobcats. Seeing the bushes trimmed down and my hands scratched and bleeding. But something popped about that antagonist.

By taking my mind off it, I'd allowed my mind to work on it, on its own.

Not to say who the apparent antagonist will be. What changed for me, what I realized, was that I'd been looking at it from the wrong place. Since this will follow from the book already done, which is a science-fantasy, the real bad guys are . . . well I can't really give that away, now can I? But I'll say that they use and manipulate the apparent bad guys. The active, if not actual, antagonist(s).

So, instead of my wondering which characters should go rogue, I realized that I should let the real bad guys decide. I'm sure they'd be far more ruthless than I would want to be. They might go after someone I like too much to turn evil. Bad for the character. Better for the story.

With the intention in my mind but not in my focus, doing a job I'd not planned to do, which left me scratched and bleeding, something gelled.

Somewhere, I think it was the Book of Runes, I read that one should not be the farmer who goes into his fields and pulls on the crops to make them grow faster. Just keep doing the work.

The intention is there. If it's pulled on constantly, it's not going to grow faster. Sort of like browbeating the muses. It seems the more I demand, the more they remain silent, or wait for my silence to speak.

It was by letting it go that it came around. I can hardly wait to see who those bad guys choose. I already have a good idea.

I'd love to hear how you court the Muses without browbeating them into silence. Making chocolate chip cookies? Steam-of-consiousness writing? Gardening seems to work with mine. How about yours?

4 comments:

  1. Cook, clean, take a road trip with the radio blaring ...

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    1. Yup, cooking is good. Getting on the road I can rarely do, but it's very good. Cleaning? Well, come on over. my dust and cobwebs are piling up. :)

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  2. Driving to work usually gets me close to where I need to go with my writing. Though watching movies, most of the time something that has nothing to do with my genre, will get me there faster.

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    1. My drive to work is too short and I'm always with my partner, in conversation, so that's not good for me. Movies? Yes. We're movie freaks here, and they often spur thoughts and ideas. I tend to write as though I'm seeing what I'm writing on screen (big or small.)

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