I know, I know – you miss your Monday Muse, but hopefully this info will be perfectly inspiring!

Speaking of reading and loving (and loving reading!), I have to wax rhapsodic about this year’s readergirlz/figment Rock the Drop initiative, created to celebrate Support Teen Lit Day.

On April 14, (that’s Thursday, people!) download a bookplate from readergirlz or figment, paste it into a book for donation, and drop your copy someplace public for some lucky reader to find. Fun, right? Then send a photo in to one of the blogs (or both! But we’ll be cross-posting) to show us how you rocked the drop!

Right now I’m reading Sean Olin’s Brother/Sister. It’s great: fast-paced and grabby. It would make for a good “drop.”

Just sayin’.

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I am still very much thinking about unreliability and fear, both within the writing, and as part of the process. If Stephen King is my idol, Shirley Jackson is a very close second, with her ability to merge style and tension so uniquely, and with such singular success.

There is the finest of lines between writing that is so elevated it inspires, and writing so exquisite it reinforces my own artistic insecurities. Jackson teeters heavily toward the latter, but there’s no one else out there quite like her, so I forbear.

“I delight in what I fear,” she has said, and I can relate. Yes.

And in The Haunting of Hill House:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”

Yes. That.

Also:

“So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.”

And yes: that, too. Yes.

 

But ultimately, it is this passage that never fails to at once fill me –

with delight, terror, and despair:

 

“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.

I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance.

I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had.

I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise.

I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom.

Everyone else in our family is dead.

 

You will be wondering about that sugar bowl, I imagine.

Is it still in use?  you are wondering; has it been cleaned?

 

You may very well ask;

was it thoroughly washed?”

 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

 

That, that, that.

I really don’t think I can do anything like that. Not on my wildest, most vivid days.

But that.

Well, that makes me want to try, nonetheless.

Monday Muse

March 28, 2011

 

Gloria Steinem turned 77 on Friday, and over at Jezebel, Jessica Coen reminds us that her importance truly cannot and should not be understated. I certainly don’t disagree.

Who better, then, to inspire our writerly muse this Monday morning?

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

Amen to that. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

 

Monday Muse

March 21, 2011

*This week, with the grace of some god — or at the very least, much in the way of Nespresso — I will be working toward conquering ‘The Thing I Fear I Cannot Write” (a phrase I’ll attribute to E. Lockhart, though she may well have been quoting when she exhorted a room full of rapt, wide-eyed writers to tackle just that).

Hence, the Musing. With any luck, it shall ward off the Fear.

It seemed appropriate to kick off this feature with one from The Master himself; the first writer to show me the sublime thrill of fear as entertainment, and to date, the only one who has perfectly articulated for me – and recreated through art, time and again – the urge that humans have toward self-destruction, and how we are, essentially, our own worst demons (sometimes, even, in the best possible ways)….

I’m speaking of Stephen King, obvs.

But then, I couldn’t narrow it down to one. So here are a few of my favorites.

Have at it, writers.

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

“Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel [crap] from a sitting position.”

“When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘One word at a time,’ and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that [mother] from space without a telescope.”

“If you write books, you go on one page at a time. We turn from all we know and all we fear. We study catalogues, watch football games, choose Sprint over AT&T. We count the birds in the sky and will not turn from the window when we hear the footsteps behind as something comes up the hall; we say yes, I agree that clouds often look like other things – fish and unicorns and men on horseback – but they are really only clouds. Even when the lightning flashes inside them we say they are only clouds and turn our attention to the next meal, the next pain, the next breath, the next page.
This is how we go on.”