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Writing Tip: Out Of The Ooze


Lugh

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Well, yesterday was an interesting day... I would like to go on record as saying I did write today's tip. Take it with the intended humor is it written with...

by Lugh

Please understand that what I am about to share with you is a personal experience. It is not based on any research nor is it scientifically sound; take it with a grain of salt. Better yet, save the salt, you may very well need it when you get to ‘The End’.

I have heard authors speak repeatedly again about their muses: of how they have to coax them into sharing the juicy tidbits of a story or bribe them with chocolates or other treats. Now most people speak of their muses as female, and I can just see them now: obese fairies wearing too much make up and not enough clothing sitting on someone’s shoulder yammering away about trivial things until someone opens the box of bon-bons.

This got me to thinking about my own muse one day and what a little whore he was. Yes, I said he. I did not want a whore of a muse… so I must confess. I took the self-centered son of a bitch, bashed his head in, and then drowned him in the primordial ooze that is my imagination. I never felt better. However, I then realized I had a problem. All the writing books addressed the muse in one-way or another. I did not want my muse back, but I needed to find a way to tap into the creative aspect that was the muse.

Luckily for me, about this time I was taking a class in college on psychology. If you have been to college, I am sure you have had the same class. How the mind works, the ego, id, super-ego… sound familiar? Well I was pondering this one evening in the manner of many great writers, and I decided a few things. Other people may have come across these ideas before, but if they have, I have not read them. If they have not, well, maybe it is because they have not yet murdered their muse.

The thoughts that whizzed around my mind that night centered on two things: the part the muse played in a writer’s life and the role of the internal editor. With enough Poesque prompting, I finally determined that these two figments of a writer’s imagination were just that — figments of the imagination. Granted the writer gave them voice and shape based on several different factors not limited to mythology, gender, age, and most importantly, the writer’s own psyche.

My mind wrapped around this and danced with it: the writer’s own psyche — the part of the writer made up of the id, ego, and super-ego. I could see the three separate parts and their functions: the id often manifests as the muse; and the super-ego as the internal-editor. Why? Because the id only wants what it wants, when it wants it. Does that not describe most of the muses you have met? And the super-ego is our compass of right and wrong — the good the bad and the ugly — sound familiar?

It was a profound moment. I had discovered that the muse and internal editor that authors so often gripe about were nothing more than a manifestation of my subconscious given form by my imagination. The two things that define many a beginning writer’s struggling efforts were nothing more than the writer’s own voice finally being heard by the inner ear. While these two manifestations are necessary to the author, they do not necessarily have to take the predetermined form.

With this in mind, and now knowing that the muse was only a figment of my imagination I took a mind trip to discover this font within myself. Little did I know what I was in for…

Tramping through the recesses of one’s own mind is not recommended for those who do not want to come face to face with what they have been, for there is a place deep within each person where the imagination exists: a vast swamp of ideas bubbling to the surface through all the person’s life experiences — the good and the bad. I believe that as humans we are hunters and gatherers, and that as an author I am a hunter and gatherer of stories. It bubbles forth from time to time mixing with all the person’s life experiences creating a sort of primordial ooze where all the elements of good fiction reside. At other times, though, the ooze must be poked and stirred for the right mix to come together.

However, when I first stumbled across mine, I did not recognize it. The ground squelched up between my toes with dark fluids and sharp bladed grasses protected the more vulnerable areas. Huge trees had grown, and fallen, left to rot where they lay. And amid all this, a pool of murky water roiled with random bubbles and the slithering movements of creatures I dared not to guess at. My first thought was that I should be afraid of this place, but I could not muster more fear than curiosity at what might be there, hidden in the depths.

I found a half rotted tree that lay partially in the water and sat on its trunk, pondering what I had found. This fetid place was not at all what I had expected. Imagining myself as a Hunter in this dreary place was not difficult. Bubbles popped on the surface of the pool, and a spear formed in my hand. Recalling the meaning of Primordial Ooze, the beginnings of life… I took my spear and I stirred the Ooze watching it carefully for signs of life, knowing that anything could come forth, prepared for battle.

Deep within the Ooze, the elements came together and Plot formed, it took shape and substance and began to make its way out of the Ooze leaving a trail of slime behind.

At first, I did not see it for it was small. A tiny Plot Slug almost not worthy of my attention, although I was seeking it. I watched it as it struggled up from the turbid pool and slimed across the more firm ground near my foot. The slime it left behind was shiny, more so than it should have been in this dark place and I could not help but to reach out and touch it. When I did, images filled my mind. This slug had a story to tell. I gasped in disbelief. My imagination was this foul pool? I followed, writing as I went.

It could be an interesting story, if only I could find the Slug. The trail crossed itself several times over before I caught the now fattened Plot Slug and speared him to the ground. He was mine! He would be written! I built a fire and slowly roasted the Slug to making sure I got all of his juicy secrets. At his screams, his followers crawled out of the Ooze. Characters… I had characters. Exhilarated, I netted them and bound them to nearby trees. They will talk, oh, how they will talk. I began to write more furiously; I now had dialogue.

Over the fire, the Plot Slug spat and popped. With every layer of skin a new twist showed itself. I cackled with glee. Soon, very soon, the climax came. The Slug, resilient as ever had survived all the way through. The characters hung their heads for they had told all, and I had written down every word. Then I came the decision… did I want a sequel?

I looked at the slug. Should I decide ‘yes’, I would have to toss him back into the Ooze to let him heal and grow some more, and should I decide ‘no’… well you did remember to bring the salt, did you not?

So, how do you deal with your muse and wayward plots? Please share!

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  • Site Administrator

I can't get the picture of the plot slug out of my head and my nose is like permanently wrinkled. But I liked the article and the imagination in which you shared your thoughts.

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Mind trip indeed :P Very interesting.

 

I've never talked to a muse. Bits of stories pop into my head and seem to be written in stone, as if they were nonfiction. Then the hard part comes, where I have to string those bits together in a way that makes sense--but I'm mostly in an 'internal editor' mode for that.

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Bravo! I hope you turned this paper in for your psychology class. Were I teaching it, you would receive an "A". Very original, thanks.

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