On Missing Muses

I imitated one of my fictional stories and joined a writers’ group at the nearby library last November.  The group is fluid, consisting of about five older regulars and a revolving number of newcomers (to me).  They meet the second and fourth Monday on the month to read our stuff and have it critiqued. 

My attendance had been interrupted by first by the holidays, then visitors and finally an unshakable writing paralysis.  I’d submitted an old ghost story for the group to review and happily survived the process. Nobody skewered me; they’d enjoyed the story (although it needed a few tweaks) and looked forward to seeing more of my work. 

But my muse was missing in action.  How could I critique others’ work when I had nothing really to offer up?  Many in the group were working on novels and bringing in chapters.  I hadn’t written anything for quite some time and felt like a fraud. Walking past the library to the local cantina, I remembered that it was again the fourth Monday of the month.  I mulled over a rather delicious strawberry margarita. Should I go?  Sure, said the margarita.  There will be other muses there.  Maybe you’ll catch one!  Making a mental note not to order a big drink next time,  I rushed to the meeting, hoping to catch a muse that was non-alcoholic. 

The regulars greeted me as if I’d never been away but no muse jumped me at the door.  The usual suspects pulled out their book chapters.  Wait, I blurted out.  Does anybody have writer’s block?   One man raised his hand.  We exchanged battle weary sighs.  You just have to write, said the novelists.  You just have to sit down and do it.  Don’t wait for a muse.  Try to write a sentence differently.  Write nonsense.  But you just have to write and the rest will come.   The facilitator asked who would submit a story for next time?  Well, I had a short story.  It’s old, I added as if an apology.  We wouldn’t have known that until you told us, they said.  It doesn’t matter.  Then they bowed their heads and began critiquing. 

I looked around the room at the writers laboring over their literary children.  Some were inspired, some weren’t.  Then I recalled that the man with his writer’s block had yet to submit a completed story while I was there, but he never missed a meeting.  That’s tenacity.

Even though I already intellectually knew their advice, there’s nothing like a group of writers poring over their work, saying it aloud that puts things in perspective.

Oscar Thought Smörgåsbord

Warning: stream of consciousness and possible movie spoilers ahead.

I watched some of the Oscars last night. Frankly I didn’t care enough because many of the film scripts seemed to be written as a How Not to Write One.  I know script writing is different from crafting novels but aren’t stories supposed to have a payoff at the end to reward us for watching?  Manchester by the Sea is one example.  The protagonist Lee, well played by Casey Affleck, is a sad, sad sack with serious issues stemming from a tragedy that left him stunted.  We watch him flailing through life hoping that he might learn something by the end and then – that’s it.  There’s no payoff for sitting through this two hour sad, sad drama, unless Lee’s inability to deal was the point.  Such an ending might suffice in a book but it made for an unsatisfying ending for a film.

Manchester by the Sea won for Best Script which goes to show either I don’t know what I’m talking about or the Oscars are too highbrow for me.

I used to enjoy gown watching.  Now I don’t even know who most of the actresses are (and actors for that matter).  Must be getting old.

I heard Justin Timberlake instead of Jimmy Kimmel did the opening number.  Is that legal?  Aren’t hosts supposed to sing?

…..

La La Land was the victim of its own hype.  After garnering 14 nominations, I expected Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone to knock my socks off.  While they did credible jobs, neither are singers or dancers (although Ryan did amazing key work) and I believe the awesome cinematography and retro-musical feel unfortunately highlighted this problem.  Plus the songs didn’t leave me humming anything afterwards.  I really wanted to like this movie, but it was Ho Hum Land for me.

La La Land won 6 Oscars.  I just don’t get it.

Denzel Washington was robbed.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty did a Steve Harvey. *snicker*

Maybe my tastes are becoming too provincial and pedestrian.

 

Serene Sunday: After Hours

When I was a child, my parents still listened to 78 rpm records.  (Now if you don’t know what those are, don’t feel bad.  Record companies had stopped pressing them by the time I was born.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. *Cough*)  

Anyway, I inherited the collection which included many jazz greats.  My favorite was “After Hours” performed by Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, and Sonny Rollins.  There was something about the sensuous horns and tinkling of the ivories that caught my attention.  The 78 version was a bit shorter than this LP version (remember those) found on YouTube.  Listen and you can see why these gentlemen were considered among the best at what they did.

So make some jazzy time and enjoy your Sunday.

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Surreal Saturday: Chicken Attack!

Alright then. That was one heck of long pause in scheduled programming.  I went to NYC in November to see Richard Armitage in Love, Love, Love and then – fell off the face of the earth.  During a strange mixture of after-trip fugue, post-election shock, holiday depression and winter doldrums, a strong reluctance to write.  This has been especially problematic since I’m taking a self-publishing course – only with no finished manuscript.  Cart before the horse much?

So what caused you to break through today, you ask.  Well, today would have been my usual Surreal Saturday and guys and gals, I just had to share my love of the bizarre with you and this video doesn’t disappoint.  I saw this Japanese yodeler in a previous video which I can’t find now but he’s back in another surreal but oddly catchy and mesmerizing one.  You’re going to love this. Trust me.  Watch to the end.

Enjoy!

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