Mused Infused

Sketch by Georgia McLaughlin (age 11)

Sketch by Georgia McLaughlin (age 11)

#4

Zombie Driven

Here’s the deal. I love zombie movies, zombie games and some zombie novels and short stories. Pardon the pun but they’ve been done to death. I have a few ideas floating around for a zombie trilogy. They’re filed away in a dark metallic drawer, waiting for the chance to come out of the closet and take a massive chunk out of my overcrowded imagination. There were just so many stories and novels out there. Then one day … bam, zip, like a bullet to the frontal lobe, the muse struck.

Brrraaaiiinnnsss,’ she whispered, ‘I want your braaaiiiinnnnssss.’

‘Well,’ I replied, ‘You can’t have them if you want me to write about Zombies.’

‘Brains, brains, brains …’

As a writer you can’t argue with your muse. You can try but the consequences might not be to your liking.

There’s the off chance you’ll win and then you find yourself not liking what you have just written.

There’s the probability that your muse will be horrifically offended and leave you with a serious case of writer’s block.

Or to teach you a lesson, bombards you with so many ideas all at the same time—so ha!

The muse will often hit you at the most unexpected times, for me it’s as soon as my head hits the pillow and that’s when I say goodnight to getting a decent night’s sleep: it’s not going to happen.

‘I’m starvin’. Give me your brains.’

Caving in, as I always do for my overzealous muse, I’ve written three zombie short stories. I have to admit I was worried but when I workshopped them …

‘This is some of your best work.’

Told you so.

‘You should write more.’

Isn’t there something you should be saying to me right now?

‘I never saw that coming.’

I don’t hear a thank you.

I’ll do more than thank you after these pieces, which have been sent out to competitions and publishers, win something or are published. But thank you anyway.

And …

I appreciate everything you’ve inspired me to write. I honestly do mean that.

I know. Because I can read your mmmmiiiinnnnddddd …

Give me a break. Okay there’s another zombie competition. I would like to get some words on the screen. I have the characters, the setting and the plot all worked out. I just need to start writing it.

Miss Muse.

Miss Muse?

MISS MUSE …

Not so a-muse-ingly abandoned,

EJ

Experiment My Pretty.

Sketch by Georgia McLaughlin (age 11)

Sketch by Georgia McLaughlin (Age 11)

Who’s my muse talking to? Oh that would be me. If we never try to experiment we won’t learn what we love, hate, what we’re good or bad at and we definitely wouldn’t learn from our mistakes. I’m talking about writing and not drugs, sex and other aspects of life, like food.

I found myself in an emotionally bad place the other day and decided it would be a good time to start a journal. Only one problem. After I wrote the first word—one word—a character by the name of Dahlia stepped all over my brain and demanded that this story is her story and to hell with what I was planning. By the time I wrote the second line, the story was hers.

Maybe there was some stupid muse high on authority, maybe even drunk, insisting that I push myself to the limit and write the story in present tense.

Present tense.

ARE YOU NUTS?

Now who’s been experimenting with drugs?

Okay, so I caved. I wasn’t in a mood to fight. I was in a dark place and so was my character Dahlia. Actually she’s in the boot of a car. So the muse stamped her higher authoritarian feet all over my imagination and creative side of the brain.

I suppose I should be grateful. I was thinking about the story with all my concentration and I forgot about all the other stuff that was hindering the creative process.

Just when I thought the muse had collapsed on her bed with a hangover, she stuck her two cents in again.
Shorter sentences.

COME ON!

@#$%& BLEEP BLEEP!! @#$%

That’s it. I’m going to imagine one of my kids (when they were younger) banging on pots and pans for the next twelve hours.

The muse is amused.

Did I resist? Heck no.

It actually sounded like a good idea. After I calmed down that is.

So doing something completely opposite was actually not only nerve wrecking, I mean nerve wracking, but I did have some fun doing it.

Now for the scary part of being a writer—workshopping.

But the muse hasn’t finished with me yet …

Mused infused and definitely abused,

EJ

Where Art Thou Creation?

I hadn’t written a single word of fiction for two weeks. It was killing me inside. I write fiction not just because I love it but because it’s an excellent stress relief tool. I reached out to the tarot for guidance, to help me find a way out of a desperate and tense state of mind. Every time I dealt out a spread, the creativity card kept coming out. I know I’m creative, that’s the problem! Face your fears was another. But how do you face the fear of not being able to create when you can’t write a single word? A lot of card shuffling happened and a card flipped out and landed face down. The universe was trying to tell me something. I took a deep breath. Somehow, I knew what card that was.

Creation imposed itself in my brain. I put the cards away, and began to write. Of all the things to write …

Waiting for the immovable chance of moment

seeded in conception

spreading through amniotic protection

laying bare the foundations of soul and secretion

hounded by limitations

spearheading contradiction with useless darkness

spurring meaningless incantations of cynicism with lashings of boiled light

engorging

knitting ideals one solitude at a time

burning images to the blind

purge and the words will come

streaming, steaming, writhing, slithering,

naked and …

Unwritten

I am creation

What’s your excuse …

Normally I leave poetry to those who have the gift. I struggled learning it while doing the Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. But sometimes, poetry pops into my already crowded brain and drops a line or two. I wrote this at a time that was dark, scary because I couldn’t even tap on the keyboard or hand write a single word. It wasn’t writer’s block because I could still work on my assignments. It was the issue of doing too much all at once.

No sooner had this poem popped out, I decided to take a deep breath, answer the question it asked of me. Doing too much wasn’t my fault. Life piles things up on you. My excuse was I was letting it get in the way of what I truly wanted to be. A writer. So I decided I needed to take a break from homework and rest up.

I now love this poem because it made me answerable to the predicament I was in. Writing it out somehow ex-or-cised the deeemons. The homework will soon end.

Poetry is like a blade on a knife. It can graze the surface, dig in an inch or plunge right into the heart of the matter. You take out whatever you need and as long as you write poetry that comes from the heart, soul and mind it will always help you to express yourself. I’ll take creativity anyway I can.

And yes I know it doesn’t have a title. Does it really need to have one?

The Muse was proud of this one,

EJ McLaughlin

What’s That Thing I’m Striving For?

I am not a fortune teller or a psychic. I can’t read minds, (although there are many out there who think I can) so where am I going with this? I can’t foretell my future. I wish I could because then I would be prepared. However, life has a habit of smacking the back of my head with the entire collection of Britannica Encyclopedias. One thick volume after the other, tha-kud-tha-kud-tha-kud, and my poor frazzled mind is so tender and sore that I can’t even begin to imagine that there is ever going to be a future in the writing industry for me. Am I going to throw myself in front of a cement truck? I think not. But I should stop the driver and ask him for a couple of teaspoons of his finest mixture and when he asks what’s it for, I will tell him, I need to harden up, stiffen my quivering upper lip. And if he says, lady you’re weird, I will simply tell him, I can make it weirder if you like.

So what could possibly be gnawing at me like a starving piranha? What has life done to me that has me feeling sorry for the anorexic carnivorous fish that I allow it to keep on chomping on my life-immersed fingers?

I now work fulltime as a receptionist from home.

That’s easy you say. That would be a dream job. But let me tell you. Try writing when you’re expecting to be interrupted at any moment or as soon as you get emotionally connected with your character and ring-ring. The call might only last a couple of minutes but when I sit back down … blank, blank, blank …

What was I doing again?

Ring-ring.

I sit back down and realise that the character I was just working on is upset with me. According to her I haven’t given her the time of day. The people on the other end of the phone are somehow viewed as more important than her. Not to mention that I’ve left her stranded on the side of the road with a busted radio when all she wanted was to party for the first time in her twenty-four year old life? Don’t I care that her needs, although they are a little selfish, are just as important as my need to earn a living, regardless where the income is coming from?

Give me a break.

I do try to listen, to understand, but the emotional investment I need for Miranda Petunia Sump has been depleted like my chocolate biscuit stash. I just stare and stare at the crumbs on the plate (I’m shocked that there are actually crumbs left) and then at the screen. Ah heck! There were crumbs on the screen page as well. I had accidentally rested my finger on the full stop key. It looked something like this……………………………………………………… only it was two and a half pages long.

What was that thing I was striving for?

My thirst for writing my second horror/urban fantasy novel (I haven’t made up my mind yet) had evaporated. So as a writer who has many ideas tucked away, I decided to write a first draft of a fantasy story that I had been mind mapping. Two pages in, bring, bring. (Sorry but I got sick of writing ring, ring.)

I need to take a nanny nap. I need to find a way of keeping my sanity on the straight and narrow because in time I will find a routine suitable to my new unexpected lifestyle. I guess this pig-poop-covered curve ball of change made me step back more than a few steps because I knew that I was ready for my writing career to advance. I had been working hard to get it up and running.

I have to remember, as long as I write, I am still a writer. Yes I am a mother, wife, writer and now receptionist, book-keeper and according to some a mind reader. (You know that thing on the thingy that is like the other thing …) You get the picture. I know there are successful writers out there who have had it tougher than me. I would like to take the time to thank them for keeping me focused and working towards a future in the writing business. It’s funny, when we are faced with such a stinky curve ball we actually don’t see the positive that can come out of such a strike. We focus on the stink and that’s all.

Writing this post has somewhat settled the nerves.

As for that anorexic piranha chomping on my middle finger; he’s just choked on a knuckle.

If only the encyclopedias could have imprinted my brain with all that knowledge instead of flattening the back of my head and giving me a permanent bad hair day.

The not so amused muse infused. (What a mouthful.)

E. J. McLaughlin