KKTypeWriterFeatured-Inspiration

My muse is a tease

My muse has been distracting me this week. I have been teased with images of exotic locales that want to be settings in new stories. This happens to me every time I open my mind up to creating, which is what I have been doing this week. Suddenly I am teased by random pieces of inspiration whether they be, images, words, articles, media – you name it but the doors to inspiration are wide open.

I read an article today that says the average brain has 12 000 thoughts every day and it can run to having up to 60 000 thoughts a day. This does not come as a surprise. Our brains are always off on tangents even when and especially when we are supposed to be concentrating and working. I know mine is.

People always want to know where story ideas come from. It is the no. 1 question that readers like to ask writers and even writers like to ask other writers. My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, the ordinary, the mundane, the strange and the extraordinary. I have had ideas come to me in vivid dreams. I have heard something on the radio, watched something on television or read something and it has sparked an idea. But the main thing that always starts me on the scent of a new story is: What if? I love teasing out the answers to that mysterious question.

I am lucky enough that I am never short of story ideas. I have two huge lever arch files of story ideas and story inspirations. But the annoying part is that my story ideas come to me while I am working on another current story idea. They never wait their turn politely. Unfortunately too I have a low patience meter so the minute a new idea comes to me I really, really want to drop everything and play with the new idea.

Is this wrong? Should I rather ignore it?

No, ignoring it does not make it go away instead just the opposite. If I actively try to ignore the new story idea, I can think of nothing else. Believe me I know this from experience. Even if I fill my waking hours with work and distraction, the idea will enter my sleep. It tugs at me constantly.

So I have now learnt that the most effective way to deal with new story ideas, to quieten their cries of need just long enough to hear myself think is to write them down and then file them. This way they feel acknowledged and don’t take their creative anger out on me or my sleep. Instead after writing the idea down, I can get to work on the story I am meant to be working on and that new idea has a chance to percolate in the to-be-done file of my imagination.

  • Pinterest is a fantastic tool to accomplish this. I can pin an image from the post that caught my attention and that way I can go back to that article when I am ready to play with it. Pinterest is also fantastic if you are more a visual thinker than a verbal thinker.
  • Evernote is fantastic for quick note taking/idea filing. I have the application downloaded onto both my laptop and my iPod so that even if I get an idea from a dram I can roll over, pick up my iPod and without turning on the light type in the note.
  • Then I also have my trusty Moleskine notebooks: I have a bright green version for my new story ideas and a deep blue one for my current WIPs. (Any excuse to buy more stationery 😉 )

I am truly thankful for an abundance of story ideas but I need to teach my muse to be more disciplined and to wait his turn in bringing me the ideas. But it is a catch-22 because I would hate to get to the spot that I don’t get ideas any more. So for this week, I have shelved the new story idea (it is a very tantalizing one) to percolate and see what comes of it.

Now it is back to work on the stories that need to be written and worked on.

Do you find you have too many ideas clamoring for attention?

How do you handle the new ideas that you just don’t have the time for?

Where have your ideas come from?

I can sleep when I am dead…

…this…according to my internal clock (life of an insomniac) and the alarm clock that is my Muse (life of a writer)…motto of story = Drink more coffee!

Sleep is over-rated anyway…No seriously, before you lecture me on the importance of sleep, I rate sleep highly especially because it tends to elude me. Main reason # 1: I am an insomniac, irrefutable, incurable. Believe me I have tried everything from acupuncture to sleeping pills to sleeping herbs to lavender sachets on pillows to silk eye masks to white noise machines. I have just learned to accept that about myself. Reason # 2: My mind does not switch off…I can lie in bed for hours with my eyes closed and still sleep does not arrive. I think I need to send a “redirect all mail” to the Sandman as he has obvious issues with getting to me in time each night. Reason # 3: (and the reason that led me to writing this post) My muse drags me out from my sleep-starved state, usually just as I have finally fallen asleep, at the craziest hours with the best ideas and sometimes if I am lucky enough with the best scenes.

Funnily enough I can be sitting in front of the computer all day waiting for inspiration to strike and nothing happens. But come the hour between 3 -4 am and he won’t shut up. But don’t get me wrong I am not complaining. Thank goodness my Muse won’t shut up. But just once it would be nice if he kept human hours not cat hours. Now you can see why this blog is called “Wrestling the Muse”: He is usually trying to drag me kicking and screaming from a very sleep-starved state and I am usually wrestling to get back to sleep. Who wins? The Muse. Sorry Sandman. But my writerly Muse trumps you every time and kicks your butt to the curb…sleeping dust or no sleeping dust.

This was the scene in my bedroom this morning at about 4.45am. I know this was the time because when I was dragged from my sleep (which had only arrived at 3.15am) I looked at the clock to see if I had actually made it to past sunrise which my aching mental muscles prodded me into denying. What dragged me from sleep? My Muse and the first scene of my new WIP. I saw the scene as clear as if I watching it on a high-definition 3d cinematic screen. For about a minute I wrestled with my Muse and gambled whether if I rolled over and ignored it, I would be able to remember it when I woke up after sunrise. But the wrestling did not last long as I knew the gamble would come with the higher risk of me not remembering what I had seen. So without switching on the light, I grabbed my iPod touch and logged into my Evernote app (Not just a name-dropping plug…This app is amazing! My favourite note-taking/note-syncing app – seriously you should try it out!) and wrote exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye. I barely knew what I was writing as I was still in a 1/2 sleep/wake state. Then I rolled over and fell exhaustedly into sleep again. When I woke the second time this morning (this time after sunrise) I had the next 2 scenes ready to write as well. The Muse’s prodding was so strong that instead of my usual dreamless sleep I fell straight back into the scenes of my WIP.

So now I sit with the first three scenes, two new characters and very little sleep. But I am not tired. Instead I am high on adrenaline. The exact same way I get when watching a scary movie or after rigorous exercise is how I am feeling right now. It is early afternoon now and I am buzzing with adrenaline, excitement and anticipation. To be honest, the scenes that I dreamt were not how I was planning on starting the WIP. I had a total other beginning in mind or rather my conscious mind had another plan entirely. But my Muse / my Sub-conscious knew better this time. This beginning, coming from the depths of a sleep-starved mind is much stronger and more visceral in intensity than what I had planned in my conscious awake state.

Perhaps there is something to that scientifically speaking…Perhaps because our subconscious mind knows no inhibitions nor any doubts, what comes from these sleep-starved states is more pure and real than what we can plan in our wake states. Perhaps also it is because our conscious editor is not active in our sub-conscious self. We are only creative and instinctual creatures in this raw, sub-conscious state. Perhaps writers are all just lucid dreamers more in touch with listening to our subconscious selves. Perhaps we need to not fight our subconscious creative instincts with our conscious plans.

For me, as much as I can plan a story or plot a pathway on a map for my characters, rarely does my story or my characters stay on the path. I tend to always “colour outside the lines” and my best writing comes from these early morning wrestlings with my Muse. Funnily enough new stories always arrive when I am busy with another story. They never wait their turn. But then again I will take that over “searching and not finding” inspiration any day.

So on second thought I won’t send a complaint to the Sandman for missing my address yet again. Instead I am thankful for wrestling with my muse whether it be at pre-dawn or post-sunrise. I know the real problems will start when I am no longer being dragged from my sleep to write down that fleeting piece of inspiration, that one of a kind sentence or that crucial scene.

>>What about you? Are you often dragged out of sleep to write down that idea? How many ideas have you lost the tail end of because you rolled over and chose sleep over inspiration? Do your ideas for new stories wait their turns for you to finish the current WIP? Are we just slaves to our inspiration and creativity? Well as long as my inspiration / creativity / imagination/ sub-conscious / Muse keeps my notepad full of ideas and my stories full of new scenes than I am happy to be a slave to it. Anyway…I can sleep when I am dead.<<

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

300px-Mythology

Myths & Legends & Lore

Various mythos.

There is something magical about mythology. I have always been fascinated by Mythology. Mythology has really shaped the modern fairy tales and modern stories. One could say it is the cornerstone of fiction. I have been delving into different mythologies over the last year while doing research on my current works in progress. What I love most about mythology is that it teaches us about the human character – both good and bad. The other thing about mythology is that one never tires of it.

No matter how many times I read the tales of Greek mythology, I never tire of it. There is always something new that I learn to love about it. Over the last few months though I have been delving into ancient African mythology, Native American mythology and Romani (Gypsy) Mythology. All this mythology has been research for my works in progress.

Researching all this mythology has made me wonder about the writers of these early myths and legends. Except for the Greek mythology, many of these mythologists remain unnamed but yet the myths have lived on for centuries and for millennia. Many of these myths were created before writing. They were told around fireplaces and passed down generation to generation. Like with all tales that are spoken, they changed subtly over the years with each telling. One could almost say that all mythology is like chinese whispers: that childish game where you sit in a circle and whisper a tale into someone’s ear and then that person whisper’s into another’s ear and so on until the last person has to say aloud what was whispered. What comes out is very rarely what was first spoken. Perhaps this is why the writers remain unnamed. Instead of just one story-teller there were different story tellers with each generation.

Last year I met Chris Vogler who wrote The Writer’s Journey. He was one of the main key speakers at a writing conference. He gave a fascinating talk on Muses: where the idea of muses came from and who the muses are. He was also saying about how so many modern stories have their basis in mythology. It was a fascinating talk.

One can learn so much about a nation by studying their myths, legends and folklore. Every culture has their own mythology and their legends are how they identify themselves with both the inner and outer world. For me these tales are so much more interesting than flat history tomes. The history that these myths and legends tell of is rich in imagery and evocative in description.

Even the modern tales of magic, vampires, elves and dragons are built on the foundations of this mythology. Another thing that I find fascinating about mythology is that whether the myth is Greek, Roman, African, Russian, Celtic in origin; they have the same elements of good and evil. Who is to say what is fact or fiction? In mythology the reader gets to decide what is real or imaginary. To me that is very exciting.

What is your favourite mythic tale or legend?

What mythology would you like to know more of?

Kim

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My Animal Muse | Creative Creature | Furry Friend

Four Muses, by Caesar van Everdingen

Famous writers and their dogs  – Pictures of the Canine Muse

Famous writers and their cats  – Pictures of the Feline Muse

Cats and Dogs as Artists and Writers – A Humorous article with a spin on our canine         and feline muses.

A couple of weeks ago I ran two informal polls in my online writing groups. I had read two blog posts about creative animal companions. The two major contenders were pups versus kittens, pooches versus moggies. It led me to wonder whether one of them was better than the other as a creative animal companion. So I ran a poll asking my writer friends to tell me which was their choice of writer companion and why that choice may outweigh any other.

Although cats got a fair number of the votes, the  majority results in both polls were that the favoured creative animal companions were “man’s best friend” = dogs. Other creative animal companions listed were goats, rabbits and fish.

When I asked why dogs, the answers were as follows:

  • They needed daily walks so the human companion gets some time away from being cooped up in their writing cave as well as getting some good rumination time going well out on said walk.
  • The dogs also came out tops in that most dogs don’t tend to like lying on their human writer’s keyboard / laptop making it difficult for the writer to write.
  • The dogs also needed less physical affection from the writer human meaning that the dog would wait faithfully while its human got some much needed words down.
  • For those who chose cats as their creative companion, they liked the independence of the cat personality.
  • Also cats are the obvious choice due to necessity of the environment space – if you live in a city apartment, cats are easier to keep as companions.
  • Cats were a choice for those who want a lot of physical affection and want a “lap” companion. (Although small dogs are a winner in this category and the above one.)

So this brings me to who my choice of creative companion is…

He is just over 1 year old, white and black, has a face that resembles a butterfly, is full of energy, does not believe he is small but only short…His name is Jazz and he is a Papillon. Jazz adopted me in August 2010. I had no choice in the matter. I took a walk into the local Animates pet store and while browsing heard this mad barking. I went across for a closer inspection and there in front of me was this dancing ball of black and white fluff that was trying desperately to get my attention. It worked. Within a heartbeat, my heart belonged to him. I called him Jazz because ever since the first day, he loves to dance and although his style is more “disco”, Jazz suited him better because he has the eyes of an “old wise soul”.

Since that first day he has been my companion and shadow. He is the happiest little dog you will ever meet. Although he likes his dog friends that he knows from his beach walks, he is very much a human-dog and loves the company of his favourite people around. Papillons are incredibly smart and range no.9 in intelligence of all the dog breeds in the world. Although small dogs, they are not known for a lack of courage or confidence..they are very much Alpha-dogs. Jazz has no tolerance for other small dogs (except for other Papillons) but loves the company of much larger dogs. He even has a Husky girlfriend who is quite taken by his french charm.

Papillons are a very old European dog breed named after the French word for butterfly because their faces resemble a butterfly. The informal name for Papillons is: “Dog of Kings“. They were featured in many famous aristocratic and royal portraits during the Renaissance era by painters like Rubens, Titian, Largilere, Magrid, Fragonard, and Boucher.
They were companions in the french Royal families for generations and were a favourite companion of Marie Antoinette. Jazz reminds me every now and again that his ancestors were royal companions and therefore he expects nothing less than royal treatment. A good thing for me about Papillons are that although they love talking or singing, Jazz often has conversations with me, they are not “yappers” like a lot of other small toy breed dogs.

Famous Papillon Owners:

  • Marie Antoinette
  • Madame de Pompadour
  • King Henry II & King Henry III
  • Lauren Bacall
  • George Takei
  • Christina Aguilera
  • Yuga Tegoshi
  • Justin Bieber

Meet Jazz – My dancing Papillon aka Creative Companion aka My best friend and furry shadow

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 “Mom, can we please go for a walk once this photo is taken.”

“Mom, can we please play…photos make me mischievous.” 

 “Ssshh…don’t tell Mom, I am borrowing her laptop to surf the web for some animal stuff.”

 “Phew…this writing stuff makes me tired…”

 “Time for a nap I think…every pup needs a nap after helping Mom write.”

“I know I am very handsome…My Mom thinks that I am the most handsome little man in the neighbourhood.” 

 “Now tell me you would not pick me as the perfect creative companion.”

“Ah…playtime….always have time for playtime. Mom gave me a new toy today because I was so good with photo-posing.”

Inspire | Imagine | Illuminate

Fellow Writers’ Blog Hop | Inspiration

(via Gladiator’s Pen)

Click on the image above to visit more great blogs in the Hop or add your own and join in the fun.

This month’s blog hop is all about Inspiration. So here I have posted inspiration vision boards of all the essential elements in life that inspire who I am, how I write and how I see the world.

I have also included one of my poems about poetry because for me poetry is the ultimate inspiration. It is raw, emotional, passionate, free and naked. It holds all of my truths.

~

Inspiration is A snapped twig in the dark

Inspiration is sometimes loud and jarring. But sometimes it is that one snapped twig in the dark forest. There is an eery silence and you believe you are all alone and then very faintly you hear a distinctive snap: someone is walking there. Suddenly you are not alone.

Today I heard the snapped twig in the dark forests of my imagination. It is the foot tread of a story. It moves quickly and quietly through the forest. Is it following me or am I following it? I still my thoughts and listen. The dark silence is almost deafening. Nothing.

Out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimmer of movement. There is a shadow behind the tree. My heart beats violently struggling to maintain its home in my chest.

I feel watched.

Yellow eyes…

~

Places, pursuits, pasttimes and pieces that inspire me 

 Quotations that inspire me

Inspirations of Philosophy

My totem muse – The Dragonfly

My muse is the Dragonfly… the Dragonfly is one of the few creatures comfortable in air,water and land; it is also beautiful and ethereal in a surreal way. To me the Dragonfly is the perfect symbol of an artist of creativity. Like creativity it skims the surface of the deeper waters of the inner soul. It is a symbol of change, power, speed, purity and living life in the moment.

 

 

Soul Wings

If writing words are the Bare Bones of me,

then Poeme` is the ephemeral Soul of me

Bones are formed from dust

flesh out the form of my shadow

Poeme` the intangible core of my being

the breath of life to my shadow

Without the breath divinely inspired

I am but a lost thing having no heart, no core, no soul

My soul is not anchored in my flesh

but soars within the cage of my earthly body

This too is the beautiful tragedy of  Poeme`

Flesh pulls the oxygen from the air

my core pulls divine inspiration into streaming flight

~ the uncaged bird is set free ~

I can no more cage this poeme`

to trap my soul in earthly realms hollows my flesh

Poeme` is life fleshed into my Bones

A place where the intangible is material

A window through which the tears of God

break open the unseen cracks in a heart

A Love divine and Light surreal

is my heart free, my soul uncaged

the Bird of Poeme` soaring into the heavenly realms.

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning

Seek after Inspiration

& drink of its winds,

~ Kim

Time – The Expensive Commodity

The Passage of Time

Image by ToniVC via Flickr

What is the most expensive commodity in today’s fast paced and increasingly digital world?

  • Gold?
  • Currency?
  • Land?

If you answered any of the above, you would be incorrect. The most expensive and the most priceless commodity in today’s world is:

TIME

Time is the one commodity that nobody can afford. No amount of gold, money or property will buy you extra time in a day, week, month or year. No amount of gold, money or property will allow you to repeat time that has passed. Every individual in every culture and every socio-economic class in the world has the same 60 seconds in every minute; the same 60 minutes in every hour; the same 24 hours in every day; the same 7 days in every week and the same 52 weeks in every year.

“Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.” – Kay Lyons

How important than is it for us to cherish time? Use it not abuse it.

Time is one of the reasons I decided to go full-time writing. I found I was squeezing in every morsel of time after my EDJ (Evil Day Job) to devote to my writing. However, this left little time for the basics in life like eating and sleeping. This all left very little time to spend with the people who I love. I found that to continue writing alongside a full-time job in management I was stretching myself very thin and the candle was becoming nothing more than a wick. I ended up resenting my EDJ for not allowing me more time to write. Sometimes, much to my chagrin, I also resented my urge and need to write because it did not allow much else in my life.

The Writing Muse is a jealous lover. He resents your time away from the blank page. He interrupts you at the most inopportune moments. For myself, it was usually in the crisis point of a meeting or disciplinary with a staff member. Very seldom did he interrupt with his inspiration and ideas at a time when I had a notebook open and ready. No, when I did have a notebook open and ready he then stubbornly kept quiet or worse went off on another tangent for another story and not the story I had in front of me.

“Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning. But there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and detail.” – Natalie Goldberg

In November I took part in NaNoWriMo. I was very fortunate to be on annual leave from the EDJ for the first 2 weeks of NaNoWriMo. I was in bliss. I could write for a solid 8 – 10 hours without interruption. It left me time to catch up with my friends and family. With that bliss of uninterrupted time for writing in my mind, I forged ahead to prepare to do this full-time.

Now I am in the place that I have longed to be for so long. Do not get me wrong. I am not telling you to just quit your EDJ and go writing full-time and you will make millions. I did not take this step lightly. I have prepared for it for over a year. I have saved money and now have a good cache to dip into for daily living expenses until I do start making money from my writing. I also have the most important element: support and encouragement from a loving family and an amazing group of friends. In this group of friends I am quick to add my writing friends who have really been behind me every step of the way over the last year.

Now I have the commodity I longed for: Time. But every gift can be a curse. The trick is to use time not abuse it. This means that though I may not have an EDJ to answer to I now answer to myself. I am very serious about writing full-time. This is more important Work to me then any other job I have ever had. Therefore I am treating this full-time writing like any other job. I have read many blogs and posts on what other writers do with their time. The most important aspect I have seen is that they get up and have the same starting time for writing – their new work – every day. They clock in with this job just like you would with an EDJ.

“We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.” – John F Kennedy

In reading and listening to many posts of advice on full-time writing, I have come up with a short list that I am going to use to make sure I am Using Time not abusing time.

  • Have a separate writing space/office from the rest of the house.
  • Get dressed/groomed every day, even if pjs seem comfortable, I am a professional and as such need to dress the part just as I would for any job.
  • Clock in every day at 10am in the morning.
  • Write until 6pm every day, breaking for lunch and tea.
  • In this 8 hour work day: Keep at least 1 hour free for editing the previous day’s work and at least 1 hour free for research if needed.
  • Turn off the internet/email unless internet is needed for research.
  • During the hours of work/writing, turn the mobile phone onto silent.
  • Have a whole day free from writing every week. (This will be Sunday.)
  • All emailing/internet/blogging/errands/general housekeeping/gym to be done in the morning before starting the day’s writing.
  • The evening should be left alone for time spent with family and friends – it is vital you maintain their support, so you need to spend some time with them to show them how much you appreciate their support.

These are going to be the 10 points that I am going to schedule my writing job to. My mind needs to know that even though I am not leaving the house to go to a EDJ, I am still in work mode. They say it takes 7 days to form a habit and 28 days to break a habit. So it is time to start training my mind into a daily writing-for-work schedule.

“Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.” – Anon

Kim