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How getting a Brazilian saved Balloons of the Apocalypse! (It’s OUT!!!)

Today, August 30th, 2014 is a momentous day.

You know how it goes. Girl meets boy. Boy joins a classical music worshipping cult. Girl never sees boy again, until years later when she stumbles across a street orchestra playing for food, and there he is. But she's happily married now, and he smells really, really bad.

As always, only Marlowe, spacewoman Nina, and a sham wedding can stop a dangerous Beethoven cult bent on world domination.

The second Capaldi Doctor Who episode aired.

It had daleks.

I liked it. And Capaldi as the Doctor.

So a momentous day indeed.

On a completely unrelated and nowhere near as momentous note, Balloons of the Apocalypse is now available.

The third installment in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman series, it has it all:

Words.

Sentences.

Paragraphs.

Mystery.

Exotic locales.

Marriage.

Major character deaths.

Steam-powered pigs.

Zeppelins.

I won’t bore you with the details, even if this is the promotional blog post announcing the release. Click on the Balloons of the Apocalypse link to learn more.

(I really hate self-promotion.)

But I will reveal to you the Brazilian connection to this book’s release.

I admit, I’d been in a rut for the last year or so when it comes to this book.

The day job, my marriage, my young kids, they sucked the life out of me.

No offense to the Missus or the kiddos. Or the day job, in case my boss is reading this.

It’s just these things are big responsibilities that take a lot of time and effort to do right.

And let me tell you, facing the prospect of losing your day job, Missus, and/or kiddos, you find yourself wanting to do it right.

Needing to do it right.

And getting dirty looks from coworkers, spouses, friends, family, and kiddos who expect you to do it right.

Talk about pressure.

That plus my previous books never magically turned into best sellers, so I reached this point where I was all, “Screw it. No one cares. I’ll never be a rich and famous author. Why bother, especially when there is a diarrhea-soaked diaper for me to change?”

Wait, make that two.

Dammit.

So I stopped working on and thinking about Balloons of the Apocalypse.

I could claim I was letting that field lie fallow, but I’d be lying.

I’d given up.

The light had gone out from my authorial eyes.

I’d developed a major facial tic around books in general.

I was done with writing.

And reading, since it reminded me of writing.

Then the Brazilian showed up.

Well, not so much showed up as appeared.

OK, not even appeared. More like lurked.

Eh, maybe lurked isn’t the right word.

I’ll explain.

I started noticing blog hits from Brazil.

Now I’m not going to say I don’t get huge volumes of traffic on my blog that would make it impossible to link a referrer to a visiting country, but it was pretty clear to me that not only was this repeat visitor a repeat visitor, but the Brazilian always came to this blog via ianmdudley.com.

(Don’t click on that. You’ll end up here again. Really. I promise.)

Not because of a search term (hello ‘Blake Shelton naked’ people!). Not through twitter. Not via facebook.

The Brazilian was going directly to my website, which redirected him or her to this blog.

For the longest time, I thought, “I’ve got this huge fan out there, desperately visiting my web site every day to see when Balloons of the Apocalypse will finally come out.”

My initial response? “Schmuck. You’re in for a helluva wait.”

But after a few days I began to feel bad.

Then sad.

Then guilty.

I was ruining this person’s day, every day, by not having the book out for him or her to read.

I think the last straw was Brazil’s elimination from the 2014 World Cup.

Now the Brazilian had endured enough.

Now I had to offer the only salve that could possibly help heal this broken, crushed, disappointed fan.

Now I had to finish and release Balloons of the Apocalypse.

So here it is. Two more editing passes and some minor re-writes later, and it is out in the world. Ready to languish on virtual book shelves, untouched by anyone.

Because two days ago I learned the truth.

Don’t ask me how. My methods are proprietary and the amount of money I spent too vast to mention anywhere the Missus might get wind of it.

(Remember that whole ‘doing the marriage right’ expectation thing?)

In a seedy sports bar on the less reputable edge of São Paulo, there is a bathroom with an ignored OUT OF ORDER sign (in Portuguese, of course) on the door, with the words, “For a good time, go to ianmdudley.com” scrawled, also in Portuguese, by the way, above a cracked, leaking urinal.

Learning that really took the piss out of me. But I was too far along in the publication process to stop.

So now I raise an angry fist while facing southeastward, and I shake it angrily at you, Brazil.

You broke an innocent man. You crushed his spirit. You made him burst into tears every time he walks up to a urinal.

Which resulted in a visit from HR at work.

(Remember that whole ‘doing the day job right’ expectation thing?)

On the not-so-off chance I lose the day job and find myself saddled with alimony and child support payments in the near future, please, please, please consider buying a copy of my book.

And the next time the guy at the urinal next to you bursts into tears, remind yourself:

“There but for the grace of a Brazilian go I.”

Bloody Brazilians.

 

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I Urgently Want, Desperately Need, Hungrily Desire That My Effort To Learn How To Write Erotica Ends Happily

As authors, we all eventually come to that dreaded moment when we realize:

Crap, I have to write a love scene.

There are many reasons we might come to this horrible conclusion:

  • The characters’ star-crossed story arcs have become entangled and we must do the deed to keep them on course
  • We’ve written twenty pages about how to pick a lock, and aside from the reader now needing a little something to spice up the narrative, the whole key-in-the-lock metaphor is begging for some fumbling, first time exploration
  • Our chosen genre is erotica

Fortunately for the general public, erotica is not my chosen genre. If I ever attempt to write such a yarn, I’m sure blue-helmeted UN soldiers will come for me on black helicopters and arrest me for violating the Geneva Convention on Torture.

That said, I can see some love scenes in my literary future.

No amount of drinking or shock therapy has been able to disabuse me of this notion.

To be fair, I have no place to go but up with regards to this writing front. Take, for example, one of my very early attempts to get the reader’s motor running:

No, I'm not happy to see you. I'm just raising my hand because I know the answer to the math problem on the board.

Bonus points for penmanship, right?

His finger became erect as she sauntered to him and stopped at his table to say, “What the hell is going on with your hand?”

Yes, terrible, but I wrote it in 3rd grade, before I had a proper understanding of the mechanics of love-making. I’d heard something about the distance between a man’s thumb and forefinger being an important indicator about size or some-such, and drew my own conclusions.

As did my 3rd grade teacher. That was a very long year of parent-teacher conferences and sessions with the school psychiatrist. The loss of control and power I experienced that year left me feeling completely impotent.

I do feel compelled to point out that while the writing may have fallen terribly short, my youthful scrawl on brown butcher paper imbued the passage with a level of charm that, had it been printed in a book, would be sorely lacking.

It is this inherent charm that led me to originally published my first book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman, on bound butcher paper.

The first twenty pages were written in a childlike scrawl, but after that my hand cramped and I lost the will to continue. I figured twenty pages of charm ought to be enough to hook the reader, and the rest was printed.

I learned, after the fallout from 3rd grade, to hide my future attempts at erotic writing, something which added a sense of naughtiness to the words and magnified the wrongness of them tenfold. This continued well into my thirties, much to the reading world’s benefit.

I also went to great lengths to develop a rock hard understanding of sex, how it works, who does it, where the erogenous zones are, things like that.

The missus is shaking her head now. She doesn’t think I can hear, but she’s muttering, “All that research, and nothing to show for it.”

Presumably she’s talking about my written love scenes. I concede the point.

But the downside to this research is that my subsequent efforts at conveying intimate encounters read more like a Catholic nun-authored, 5th grade Personal Growth textbook describing how sex worked.

A 5th grade Personal Growth textbook translated into English from the original Esperanto. By someone who doesn’t speak Esperanto.

Or English.

His member became erect as his increased heart rate due to arousal raised his blood pressure, flushing his face bright red and engorging his sexual unit to the point of rigidity required for successful penetration of the female body in that special place (not her bum!). At the same time, his capability for critical thinking diminished due to a reduction of blood reaching his brain.

Had his critical thinking skills not been diminished, he might have paused to consider his soon-to-be lover’s large hands and prominent Adam’s apple.

Shh,” he whispered brusquely, pressing a finger against her lips. “No need to tell me. I’ve taken 5th grade Personal Growth. I know where this,” and he gestured down to his ‘eleventh finger’, “goes.”

Dry and mechanical, yes, but a huge improvement over my 3rd grade effort, no?

And to think, I was only 33 when I wrote that.

I figure by the time I reach 50, I’ll have overcome the one remaining issue I have with writing erotica: my extreme discomfort with using certain terms referring to a person’s sexy-fun bits.

You do not want to know what I call breasts, or that elusive, possibly mythical button-thingy women allegedly have that makes sex feel nice for them.

Ultimately, my problem right now is not how to write the love scenes I know are coming, but to write my characters’ story arcs in such a way as to put off that moment as long as humanly possible.

My characters lead very frustrating lives.

But not to worry. I have no doubt that eventually, my beloved paper friends will get their happy ending.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My (completely free of intimate encounters) books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 10 October 2012 in Angst, Life

 

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Lack of sleep will boldy take you…where no one has gone before! /SWISH/

Sleep deprivation.

It has a way of running you off track.

Making you grumpy.

Impairing your ability to drive.

Most people would say this is a bad thing.

Heck, even I, when my kid screams at 3am like the boogie man is at the foot of his bed and insists he cannot return to sleep unless I sit by his side for the next hour, have been known to utter under my breath, “This is a bad thing.”

But that’s just the sleep deprivation talking.

And why else would we have airbags except for sleep-deprived drivers?

Where was I? Oh yes, Ayn Rand.

I have it on good authority that Ayn Rand was most enamored of the work she wrote while sleep deprived.

Based on what I’ve sampled, I can only surmise she wrote everything while sleep deprived.

And now the more conservative readers of this blog are about to object.

Shut up, conservative readers. I’m about to sing the praises of sleep deprivation writing.

I used to have dreams of being a serious writer.

A literary novelist.

A man of letters.

And numbers (preferably prefaced with a ‘$’).

Alas, it was not meant to be.

The closest I came was to being a man of numbers with a ‘¢‘ at the end of them.

And if you’re familiar with the terms of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, a ‘¢‘ at the end of your numbers means you aren’t getting a royalty check.

Instead, I decided to write an absurdist noir sci-fi thriller.

It’s hard to write an absurdist noir sci-fi thriller when you’re well rested.

It’s hard to write one when you’re tired.

Or drunk (keep missing the keys).

Or bent (don’t SCUBA dive with a computer unless you know in advance it’s water proof).

It is easy, however, to write one while sleep deprived.

Sleep deprivation allows you to make intuitive leaps while circumventing that pesky reason thing. This is important, if not downright critical, for any absurdist elements you are trying to incorporate into your plot.

But I would argue that sleep deprivation helps for less lofty works of literature than absurdist noir sci-fi thrillers.

Sleep deprivation will unburden you from the tyranny of logic, from the insidious restrictions of continuity. It enables the sort of ‘outside the box’ thinking that is so popular in the business world, such as at companies like Wang Laboratories, Pets.Com, and AOL-TimeWarner.

Now I’m not saying that you can stay up for eight days in a row and crank out a masterpiece like Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

You can crank out the first draft of the Wheel of Time series in that time.

You then need to rest up, get lots of sleep, and edit that first draft.

This, you will be surprised to learn, is the real reason why it has taken so long for all of the books in the Wheel of Time series to come out. Jordan, and his successor, needed to do a lot of sleeping in-between books.

Writing and editing are two distinct phases in the writing process, and it’s best if they don’t mix. They’re like the Jets and the Sharks – when they run into each other, violence and catchy tunes tend to erupt.

I'm not evil, just a stickler for grammar and logic

The odds of this making sense while the reader is sober are currently at 0.0043%.

Sleep deprivation turns off what I call the “douchey Vulcan killjoy gatekeeper of awesome ideas,” or what NaNoWriMo calls the “inner editor.”

(Sadly, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaisons aren’t allowed to use the word “douchey” in their regional emails, so the management suggested “inner editor” as an acceptable substitute. This completely waters down the magnitude of evil conveyed, accurately, by the phrase “douchey Vulcan killjoy gatekeeper of awesome ideas,” and I for one refuse to pull my punches.)

Sleep deprivation gets that Vulcan drunk off his (or her) ass, allowing flawed concepts and failed logic to slip by unnoticed, or at least with no more than a reproaching arch of the eyebrow, and onto the page.

How do you think the concept of imaginary numbers came about? I’ll tell you this: it did not involve a well-rested mathematician or a sober Vulcan. Square root of -1 my ass!

So you stay awake far too long, pound out a first draft unencumbered by sanity, and then, and only then, you sleep.

Sleep allows the Vulcan, or for the more timid among you, the inner editor, to sober up.

This is important. Do not skip this step if you’re a writer!

In the editing stage, you need that pointy-eared, green-blooded fiend refreshed and alert. He’ll make himself comfortable on your shoulder and the two of you will read that first draft.

You’ll fight and struggle to understand the intent.

You’ll moan and shake your head in wonderment and horror.

You’ll strive and strain to fit the imaginative, innovative workings on the page into a context that makes sense.

If you’ve slept enough, you will succeed.

If you haven’t, I recommend sleeping on it.

Turns out, the sleep deprived writing is the easy part. It’s the editing, the putting the puzzle together into a clear picture, that’s hard.

She didn't shave her pits, either.

Is this John Galt?

Really hard.

And it is this stage, the sleeping and sobering up and thinking about what you wrote and how to shape the raw material so it makes sense, where, I believe, Ayn Rand dropped the ball.

But that could be the sleep deprivation talking.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 22 August 2012 in Noir, Writing

 

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Sing, Oh Muse, Of…Oh Screw It, Is There A TV Version Of This Post?

Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy.

A few examples come to mind:

Note to self - cut off Paula's supply of Hypno-Toad.

Paula got her start in Stepford, Connecticut, where she opened her first restaurant at her husband’s bidding.

When I plop down on the sofa to watch TV rather than do anything productive. There are many nights when I melt into the sofa and curse my fitness, which has deteriorated to the point I can barely lift the remote to switch on Paula’s Home Cooking.

When I super-size my order at the drive-in, even though I’ve been sitting at a desk all day and plan to sit at the sofa all night, eating my dinner and watching TV until I pass out or have a stroke (or both).

When I deny myself a full night’s sleep, instead getting up to answer the food nightmare-induced howls of my young children.

You’d think I’d know better.

I’d think I know better, if I didn’t know me better.

Which is why I’ve come to hate myself, the shiftless bastard. Soaking the sofa cushions in his own drool, ignoring the curses of his wife as she washes those cushions, thinking only, during those moments, how uncomfortable the couch is without cushions and how dare his wife take them from him.

I am filled with impotent rage every morning, when, in the course of administering to my personal grooming, I look into the bathroom mirror and am forced to endure that undeservedly good-looking prima donna staring back.

He’s an infuriating prick, and if I didn’t have such a healthy sense of self-worth, I’d do the jerk in.

Oh, and don’t think I’m not smart enough to get away with it too. I totally could, if he wasn’t so damned lazy.

So it really chuffs me to have to announce that this undeserving paragon of sloth, this indolent Baron of Gluttony, has managed to make the semifinals in a contest.

A book contest, to be exact. And, despite his involvement in the creation process, not a half-bad book, if I do say so myself.

But don’t tell him I said it – I’ll deny it to the grave.

That useless sack of baby vomit.

If the semicolon is acceptable, then so is being a semifinalist

This badge kinda looks like a pancake. A pointy-edged pancake. Mmm, pancakes. I wonder if I can get the missus to make me some and bring them to the sofa.

The book is Marlowe and the Spacewoman. Not hard to figure that out, give it’s the only book he’s got out thus far.

Given the Ian-shaped indentation that has formed in the sofa, don’t expect another one out any time soon.*

The contest is The Kindle Book Review‘s Best Indie Books of 2012. The category is not Romance, as, no doubt, many of you were leaning towards, but Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

If I wanted him to win, I’d tell you to go over to the The Kindle Book Review and vote for the book. But fortunately, since I can’t bear the thought of him winning Shirley Jackson’s lottery, let alone this contest, it doesn’t work that way. It turns out no amount of outside influence can be brought to bear on the judges to affect the outcome.

So he’ll just have to stand on his merits. Since the finalists aren’t announced until September 1st, and I know how bad he is at standing for any length of time, I’m not worried.

* Actually, not true. I have a Marlowe and Nina short planned for release later this year, and a second Marlowe and Nina novel set for release in 2013.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

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Reruns, Or Why Society Is Doomed If We Don’t Stop Them At The Source

The following is an encore presentation of a previously published blog post.

When your friends can only be found in syndication, you really need help

Funny, they don’t look like the sort of people to be undermining Civilization as we know it.

I hate reruns.

Can’t stand them.

With most television programs, it’s hard enough to sit through them the first time, let alone endure them again, usually in no particular order, for several months before finding out how that cliffhanger ending is resolved.

To add insult to injury, the commercials aren’t reruns at this point – they’re all new. And yet still just as annoying as their predecessors.

Screw you, television.

I find it strange, though, that this disdain for seeing the same material is largely limited to television.

Books, for the most part, are exempt from this phenomena.

I have books I love to re-read. I’ve even gone out of my way to buy rare editions of some books, which I tuck away in a safe location, along with ‘throw away’ copies that I use for actual reading purposes.

So clearly I am not suffering from some inherent inability to enjoy being immersed in the same material multiple times.

This suggests the problem lies elsewhere.

So what is it about TV that makes me hate reruns?

Or is that the right question? Maybe I should be asking a different question.

What is it about books that make me love them enough to read them again?

And again? And again? And again?

I suspect the two questions together provide the answer. The explanation lies in the mediums themselves.

The short answer is that TV is crap and books aren’t.

But that’s not the complete answer. Oh, to be sure, there is a lot of crap television out there. Mostly reality TV, but not limited solely to that genre.

And there are definitely horrible books out there, books that should never have been published, books that, by their very existence on shelves at the bookstore (or on Amazon), and by the number of people who have read them and recommended them, make me wonder what I’m doing wrong with my own books, which by any empirical examination are just as good as, if not better, than these popular abominations.

I offer, as examples, anything written by Stephenie Meyer and that fanfic Frankenstein of a book, 50 Shades of Grey.

And therein lies the true answer.

People.

People are why I don’t like reruns.

More specifically, idiots. The lazy people who glom onto a popular trend and crank something out to mesh with it so quickly they don’t have time to give the concept depth or heart. People who use the shortcuts of previously established characters, stereotypes, or a glamorized version of themselves to build a plot around.

Television seems more prone to this for some reason. Perhaps because of the commercial interests that fund the programs, forces that, in the interests of making as much money as possible in as short a time as possible, quash the writer’s creative control.

Because what writer, for television or books, who truly loves his or her characters, wants to have short, interchangeable story arcs for those characters? But to do otherwise is anathema to the network execs who want one-off episodes that can be run in any order once they reach syndication.

The profit-centric nature of television dooms most programs to be nothing more than flash-in-the-pan, wham-bam-thank-you-viewing-public short-term investments.

This is not to say that books don’t have commercial interests influencing them as well. The ‘gatekeepers,’ as they are sometimes called, who review potential books for both quality and salability.

That’s right, quality and salability. Some quality books don’t get picked up, or have a hard time finding an agent or publisher, because they aren’t considered commercially viable.

So yes, money does have influence when it comes to books.

But writing a book is an intensely personally endeavor, and in general, is done before the author seeks the approval of an agent or publisher. If the writer is good, the quality is there before the bean counters can step in and pervert the author’s vision in order to maximize profits.

Yes, editors will make suggestions and point out problems to fix. Yes, authors need editors to see the issues the writer is too close to perceive. But once your work has made it to the attention of a publishing house’s editor, it has already run the gauntlet, has pretty much passed the point of heavy interference by corporate accountants, and been found worthy enough in its current state to move forward.

Television writing can be like that, but rarely is. Because while books certainly aren’t cheap to make, television shows are profoundly expensive to produce in comparison. So all the stakeholders, including the bankrollers, insist on having a seat at the table.

This is an important distinction, in case you didn’t catch it:

Books are written.

Television shows are produced.

Which is a shame, because I think that leads to a lot of bland television programming designed not to offend or make viewers think too hard so they’ll have more mass appeal.

That’s not something you can say about books. At least, not yet.

The day all books are ‘produced’ is the day civilization as we know it, a culture striving to expand our wisdom and better ourselves, is over.

But perhaps that’s the direction we’re headed?

Up until now, if someone bought a book, they bought it for the intellectual exercise of reading it. They bought it to be challenged, enthralled, exposed to something new, to think about what they’ve just been exposed to.

That’s the noble nature of books.

Except erotica; most of that is written to get the reader off. While I won’t pass judgment on that final goal, I will say it is definitely, if the direction and flow of blood is taken into account, not intended to make the reader think.

But if people stop buying books for these noble reasons, if they just want the trendy titles on their coffee table so they fit in, or they’re hoping the visible spine of some profound novel on their bookshelf will seal the deal with that intellectual Liberal Arts major they brought home, then we’re already well down the path of produced books.

In which case, people are better off watching television.

Or reading erotica. At least erotica, if well-written, offers the promise of a happy ending.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are now available!
 
Marlowe and the Spacewoman:
 

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 6 June 2012 in Fanfic, Other Blogs, Reading

 

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Sing, O Muse, Of Your Superfluousness

I just recently came out of a long dry spell that I’d been enduring.

For writing. A dry spell for writing. The dating dry spell ain’t going away, cause I’m married. The sex dry spell, well, I’m married with kids. Young kids. You do the math.

Actually, one could argue I’m not completely clear of the writing dry spell just yet. I’ve jumped back in by editing a couple of ancient projects that have been avoiding dust in a hermetically sealed desk drawer for the last decade.

Yes, decade. I’m taking baby steps. And not just so I won’t wake my sleeping toddlers.

But this long dry spell got me to thinking about Muses, because I’m without one.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had Muses before, and plenty of them.

My first Muse came to me in high school and stayed with me through college. As with most tales involving heterosexual male writers, she was a woman, I was madly in love with her, and I was too terrified to tell her.

Ah, happy days.

Instead of asking her out, maybe dating her, and, you know, being happy for a few weeks before my complete and total lack of social graces and maturity poisoned her to me forever, I did the next most logical, obvious thing:

I wrote for her from a distance.

She was in my poetry, short stories, not-so-short short stories, and a play I wrote.

Funny thing, that play. My muse actually ended up being cast as the character based on her. It struck me as a sign, and still I said nothing.

What can I say, today-Ian may be a mercury-poisoned mad man, but college-Ian, who hadn’t been exposed to mercury yet, was a flat-out idiot.

Which is not to said I’m sad and mopey and wish things had turned out differently. My life is awesome, with an amazing wife and adorable children, and I could never risk erasing them from my life by going back in time and bitch-slapped some common sense into my earlier self.

It’s true. And I’m not just saying that because my wife reads this blog. Or because traveling back in time, in addition to being impossible unless you’re wealthy enough to afford a DeLorean, could create a paradox that destroyed the very fabric of the universe.

My point is, I had a Muse. And holy crap, I had output too. Every free moment, even those that would have been better spent hitting the books, was spent writing.

And dating other women. There was some of that too.

I’ll bet those women, since I’m sure all of them, to this day, still think about me, wished I would go back in time now to fix things with that first Muse and prevent my ever meeting, let alone dating, any other women, potential destruction of the universe be damned.

To which I can only say, I am so, so sorry.

And then, one day, I moved on.

OK, my muse got married. To someone else. And he wasn’t even American!

Talk about adding insult to injury.

I had other Muses. Other women. Many of them also oblivious to me, or only aware of me in the most peripheral way. Usually dating my best friend or something. Not that I’m bitter at all. No sir.

But none of them were quite the same. No Muse is ever like your first one.

My wife was my Muse for a while, before we got married. In fact, and this is relevant later, she was my Muse when she lived far away and we rarely saw each other. I wrote some stuff I’m rather proud of with her in mind.

And some stuff I’m not proud of, but that was true of all my Muses, even my first. Sometimes I was just a hack and no amount of Musing can overcome that.

But somewhere along the line, writing changed for me.

I’m not sure where, but it might have been Nanowrimo, when writing became about the deadline and word count and turning off your inner editor. Then I got serious about writing, ended up self-publishing, and the writing became about marketing and selling books.

It became a business.

Which is about when the dry spell started. Hmm…

I also got a day job, bought a house, got married, had kids. Shit got real.

But whenever and however it happened, the end result was I stopped writing for someone beyond me anymore.

I lost my Muse.

And I didn’t even notice until recently.

Which got me to wondering. As writers, do we need a Muse?

I’m not so sure. For quite a while, I was doing pretty well without one. Sure, maybe not so much lately, what with the re-hashing of old work, but excluding the last six months or so, the last few years have been good for my writing.

Are the last few months relevant to this question about having a Muse? Or are they, perhaps, crucial? If I had a Muse six months ago, would I have still fallen off the writing wagon, or would I have climbed over the harness rigging the horses to the wagon and whipped them into a frenzied gallop of writing abandon?

So, there it is. They question of the hour.

Do writers need a Muse?

And if we do, who would be my Muse?

My kids? Seems like a great idea, writing for my kids. It’s an idea I had before my kids were even a gleam in my eye. But if having my kids as Muses results in stuff like Kleencut (FREE picture e-book, just released on Smashwords, should be hitting Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. soon), then maybe they aren’t such a hot choice.

Plus kids get so territorial:

“Who’s the better Muse? Me or my brother?”

“I know you say we’re both your Muse, but it’s really just me, right?”

“I’m the Muse for your good books, right, but be honest, my brother’s the Muse for the terrible ones.”

I don’t want to break the heart of the lesser Muse by having to tell him that he sucked as an inspiration. That’s the sort of thing that leads a kid to grow up into a serial killer.

One that starts with his writer father.

So kids are out.

My wife is the obvious next choice. But I think there has to be pain and distance associated with a Muse. The Unattainable, set on that Pedestal of Too Highness that is just out of reach. Without a blend of angst and ‘maybe, some day’, well, you have nothing to which you can aspire.

This is what happens when all your dreams come true, when you marry and move in with the woman you love.

Suddenly the Unattainable is not just Attainable, but Attained, and that Pedestal of Too Highness has succumbed to the mighty lifting power of a shared bed.

Seriously. Our bed is on stilts. It’s this kink we have. Don’t judge.

So clearly my wife is out.

And just as clearly, at least if I want to talk about it publicly, all other women are also out.

Do you have any idea how rare it is to find a heterosexual woman with a stilt fetish who’s willing to settle down and marry? When your dreams have all come true, you don’t rock the boat with a bone-headed idea like dragging in another woman as your Muse.

How do you have that conversation with your wife?

Me: Hey, I’ve found a new Muse for my writing.

Missus: Took you long enough, considering I’ve been here all along.

Me: Oh, well, it’s not you.

Missus: Oh? Who is it then? Bill in Accounting?

Me: Bill? No! Why would it be- Never mind. No, she’s not someone I work with. Not directly, anyway.

Missus: She?

Me: Yeah. I saw her on the subway, followed her home, went through her mail to learn more about her.

Missus: I see. Tell me more about this Muse who isn’t me.

Me: Um, she’s…nice?

Missus: Nice as in better looking, or nice as in more loveable?

Me: Um, no, it’s not like that at all.

Missus: Really? Then how does it work? How exactly does she inspire you if she isn’t tugging on your heart-strings? Or…wobbling your stilts?

Me: Just because she’s a rich, successful heart surgeon doesn’t mean I’m interested in her like that. She’s way too young, like in her early twenties, and her bust is way too big for me to- ACK…GARKGLE…hurting me…please…release testicles from steely grip…

[End scene]

Yeah, neither I nor my boys need that kind of drama. So, what does that leave?

Men, you say?

No. Despite the huge surge in hits my blog would get if I chose, for example, Blake Shelton naked as my next Muse, it just doesn’t do anything for me.

And doing something for me is kinda the point.

Inspiring picture of the rarely seen, once thought to be extinct Muse Turtle.

Once believed to be extinct, the Muse Turtle, or Chelonia gregārius, was known to be common in Greek and Roman times, and appears in much of the literature from those periods. If this over-sized turtle choking down a weed inspires you, then you're an even bigger loser than I am.

So, that leaves animals. And plants.

Well crap, that sucks. I’m allergic to animal dander, so I’d end up doing more sneezing than writing if I went the animal route (though I suppose reptiles or amphibians might work). But animals require upkeep, too, and I’m barely keeping my marriage and family together as it is, what with the younger, bustier Muses and the testicle-squeezing and the high cost of stilts maintenance.

And pining after someone else’s pet frog? Would you want to read something written by a creepy person like that?

Yeah, me either.

And if I chose a plant, well, with my luck, it would be poison oak. Plus I have a pollen allergy too, so sneeze-fest.

And come on, a plant as a Muse? What kind of sorry life would I have to lead where I’m inspired by an unattainable vegetable? It would have to be one of those exotic vegetables that they don’t allow in California for fear of fruit flies or something.

I’d have an easier time finding another woman with a stilt fetish.

Which really makes me hope that Muses are superfluous.

Because if they aren’t, I’m screwed.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
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Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

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So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
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Posted by on 1 May 2012 in Life, Other Blogs

 

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