Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rotten Apples and Wayfaring Fleas

by A.G. Howard

A couple of years ago, I learned something about myself as a writer. My muse likes rain. No, let me rephrase that. My muse LOVES rain. In the span of two dreary, drippy days (which is almost unheard of in the TX panhandle), I managed to whip out close to 6,000 words (approx. 24 pages give or take), finishing out one chapter and coughing up another. DANG. No wonder Stephen King is so prolific, living in Maine as he does (it’s rumored he writes ten pages a day, even on holidays).

Anyway all of this got me thinking about how most writers have quirky habits or routines that help inspire and set the mood for a productive session.

Here are the quirks of some famous writers:

•The poet Friedrich von Schiller used to keep rotten apples under the lid of his desk. To awaken his muse, he’d open the lid and inhale deeply.

•Colette, the author of the famed novel “Gigi”, used to pick fleas from her cat before she wrote. Maybe she was afraid she’d mistake some of those parasites for misplaced punctuation on her pages?

•Voltaire, a French Enlightenment writer, used his lover's naked back as a writing desk. Not too surprising that most of his work had a romantic slant to it, aye? Teehee.

•Anne Rivers Siddons' husband reports that she makes a nest of papers, like a mouse getting ready for winter, then she starts walking into walls just before she begins a new novel. I can relate to that walking into walls thing … I use the same routine when I’m writing a synopsis.

•Emily Dickinson wouldn't see her dressmaker, go out of the house, or expose her handwriting . Her sister transcribed all of her letters. I’m thinking Emily would’ve loved email.

Now for my own personal quirks (which aren’t nearly as cool and twisted as some of the above):

•When I get stuck and need inspiration, I go to a neighborhood park and roller-blade; it opens up my mind to new ideas and directions I would never have come up with sitting boxed inside four walls

•Sometimes when I'm roller-blading, I murmur dialogue under my breath—bouncing from each character’s mind while they’re talking. This is the very reason I wear earbuds, so people will think I'm singing and not stark-raving mad.
•I post mugshots of my characters on a bulletin board in my office and play out entire scenes between them that may or may not ever make it into the book

•Every Friday night hubbie and I watch a DVD together. During writing stints, I prefer movies about my WIP’s subject (I’m a bit of a fanatic about it). While working on my geisha vampire fantasy, we saw tons of vampire flicks (with the occasional side of Phantom of the Opera). Bless my husband and his tolerant heart.

•I usually keep a special ring on my computer desk. It has a blue-lace agate setting. Agates are considered stones of communication, enhancing speech and written communications. If you're into all that. I just like it because it's pretty. But it's gone missing of late, which might explain my muse's dry spell (that and the lack of rain here in TX).

That’s it for me. What about you? Do you have any quirks or tricks that help invigorate your muse?


Wendy said...

The shower is my best place for inspiration. On the days I don't have to go into my day job I start writing the minute I get up and if I get stuck that's when I hit the shower and do my morning "get ready for the day" routine. Usually by the time I get out of the shower I'm unstuck and ready to get back to work.

vatrask said...

My writing tends to be linked to the weather. If it's storming out or if there's even the slightest bit of percipitaion, my muse goes crazy and starts bouncing off the walls of my mind. Calm, sunny weather brings out her twin sister procrastination. The two of them are sometimes interchangeable.
Another habit of mine is to act out different scenes with my characters. So usually, my neighbours get really creeped out when they hear me yelling at myself in different voices and beating myself up.

Travis Erwin said...

Like Wendy I often find my muse while in the shower which leads me to believe whoever she is, she must be blind. Another trick is to get in my truck and take some long lonely drives on the backroads here in Texas.

Jordan Dane said...

I'm sensing a theme here with authors and showers.

Imagine a new kind of author photo. Hummmm.....

Anita Grace Howard said...

Wendy~ I have a friend who finds her inspiration while using her blow dryer on her hair. So, there must be something to the whole process of getting ready that makes the mind start ticking, huh?

Vicki~ So hilarious about your neighbors! Love that!

Travis~ Ah yes. Those Texas backroads. There's actually some really pretty and inspiring scenery out here if you know where to look.

JD~ Let's not get crazy here. LOL!

Jordan Dane said...

Anita--You know I can't resist GOING THERE.

Just sayin'

Anita Grace Howard said...

JD~ You know that's why we loves ya. :)

Katey said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only person walking around (or blading around, or driving around--I do it a lot when I'm driving) talking to herself.

I mean, we're NOT talking to ourselves. It's totally, like, the head people.

Hm, that sounds even worse. Nevermind :/