Now, was that so hard?!

When last we heard from me, I was awaiting, with less and less patience, an appearance of the Muse. (See post from yesterday.)

I’m happy to report that at 12:45pm, yesterday afternoon, without any fanfare or forewarning, paragraph 2 of Chapter 20 simply started coming out, and then before too long, I was several pages in and had forgotten all about the angst of waiting on the Muse for 2 and a half days.

It’s just funny how, when he’s ready he’s ready, and you’d best be in front of your laptop or, in all seriousness, you’re going to have to start typing away on your phone. Not fun when it runs into several pages.

And it really just comes like that. This is the most amazing Muse I’ve ever had.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog – or at least readers who’ve been coming here since last July when this current Muse swooped into my life – are by now familiar with the erratic hours this Muse keeps.  Many times, I’ll lurch awake at, like, 4:12am and he’ll be in mid-dictation and I have to grab my phone from my night table and simply start typing whatever he’s saying. It just comes. And I don’t want to miss a word of it.

I mentioned yesterday that I have 2 muses. One is alive; a living person that I dearly love, whose writing constantly challenges and inspires me (Nick Cave). This other one, though, is from the Great Beyond; nonphysical. And when that one’s around, it is literally dictation.  I hear the words coming and I write them down. And aside from typos on my part, they never need any revisions whatsoever.  It just comes out, hits the page, needs no re-writes and I’m like, Wow! can you please stay in my life forever? Plus, when he’s dictating and I’m typing, I always have to take my glasses off. Normally, I can’t even see the letters on the keypad. But when I’m typing stuff that I’m hearing from him, I can’t have my glasses on. Isn’t that weird?

Usually if I’m writing something, like Tell My Bones, the play I’ve been working on, I’ll put down some words. I’ll look at them. I’ll tinker, revise, keep writing, go back, keep tinkering. Etc., etc. That’s the way I’ve written all my life, whether it was songwriting, or prose, or TV scripts, theater. Whatever. That’s how I write.  It never feels like “dictation.” It’s a process.

And for me, the muse is all-important in that process. Nothing worth saving comes out if I don’t have a muse to tap into, extract from, get lost in; it’s like I have a radio tuner in my mind, and I mentally sync up with that “muse” frequency and then the words literally pour into my head. And it feels really beautiful while it’s happening. The words themselves feel beautiful to me. And even though, for the most part, my life has really sucked and I’m terrible at getting anything right; the process of writing, and of feeling all that beauty in the words, has made life bearable for me and, overall, worthwhile.

I know that I write some really weird shit. I know that. And trust me, I didn’t wake up one day 40 years ago and say, “Dear God, please let me write really noncommercial, intensely erotic non-consensual stuff that most people will refuse to publish.”

It was more like, “Please! God, you can’t be serious??!! This is what you want me to write??”

And God said: “Yeah. Consider it a gift. From me to you. With love.”

Jeez. And I cried, I really did. Because then I felt like I had a responsibility to this gift that wasn’t gonna necessarily be celebrated.  When the time came for me to switch from songwriting to fiction writing full-time,  everyone was flabbergasted. My closest friends were saying, “You’re gonna stop writing those beautiful songs to become a pornographer??”

I didn’t see it that way. I never considered myself a pornographer.  I felt that I had said as much as I could in my songs and that I wanted to commit myself to the gift God had given me, awkward as it was.

And I was always way more successful with the fiction than I’d been with the songwriting. In those days, it really was just very, very hard to make any serious headway in the music industry if you were female and wanted to be on a major label. It’s like they had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of slots for men to fill, and only about 2 slots for women, per category of music. And if you were a commercial folksinging woman, there was one slot, pretty much, and it involved a heck of a lot of ugly backstabbing and strategic sex and ill-will to get it and I was never about that. That stuff made me sick.

But in underground fiction? Plenty of slots for women with dirty minds. And if you were really intelligent, and got yourself a background in audio physics and technology, which I did, the sky was the limit in those early days. And so my career there took off.

And so I write weird stuff but I do try really, really hard to make it well written; to honor the gift.  And without a muse, it’s really next to impossible for me to do that. So I give thanks to God every day for my muses. Because, honestly, when I can’t get tuned into that frequency, the light goes right out of my life. So I don’t really mind sitting for 2 or 3 endless, antsy days at my desk and just waiting. I know he’s gonna show up. And I know it’s gonna be worth it.

Well, okay. I’m gonna get back to Chapter 20 here. It’s a rainy Friday and everything feels sort of serene today. I hope it’s a similar vibe wherever you are in the world.

I leave you with this, today: Magneto. Not because I want to break your heart first thing on a serene Friday morning, but because I want to show you how the use of one single word can change and heighten the entire landscape of a song.

And here, that word would be “stars”.

He could have so easily said that blood was splattered across the ceiling, and we’re set up to think he will say that, since they’re sawing each other in half there in the bathroom. And he’s been vomiting, and his blood is gagging on other people’s diseases and  he wants to kill somebody and it’s all pretty horrible.  Grief is horrible. But in the agony of all that incredibly sad imagery, comes that almost unbearable reminder of eternal beauty and eternal joy: the stars.

It’s what I have always loved best about Nick Cave’s writing. I don’t know if he does it purposefully, or if this is just part of his unique gift – the use of the wholly unexpected word or image. But he has been doing it forever. And it’s always been an incredible challenge to me; to help me to find better words. To always look for the better, unexpected words.

Okay, so thanks for visiting, gang! I love you! See ya!

Mostly I never knew which way was out
Once it was on, it was on and that was that
The umbilicus was a faucet that fountained rabbit blood
And I spun on my wheel like a laboratory rat

I was an electrical storm on the bathroom floor, clutching the bowl
My blood was full of gags and other people’s diseases
My monstrous little memory had swallowed me whole
It was the year I officially became the bride of Jesus

In love, in love, in love you laugh
In love you move, I move
And one more time with feeling
For love, you love, I laugh, you love
Saw you in half
And the stars are splashed across the ceiling

Oh, the urge to kill somebody was basically overwhelming
I had such hard blues down there in the supermarket queues
And I had a sudden urge to become someone, someone like you
Who started out with less than anyone I ever knew

In love, in love, I love, you love, I laugh, you laugh
I move, you move
And one more time with feeling
I love, you love, I laugh, you laugh
I’m sawn in half
And all the stars are splashed across the ceiling

Oh, I know you come shining, softly to the hole to drink
Come as far as the edge of my blood, and then swim
And in the bathroom mirror I see me vomit in the sink
And all through the house we hear the hyena’s hymns

Of love, I love, you love, I love, you love
I laugh, you laugh, I move, you move, you move
And one more time with feeling
I love, you love, I laugh, you laugh
We saw each other in half
And all the stars are splashed and splattered across the ceiling

c- 2016 Nick Cave

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