Shreds of Thought: Aphrodites Flown

The part of me interested in social media, marketing and metrics is very different to the part through which the prose flows. If I hold off looking at these things for the first hour after waking, and instead allow my still dreaming mind to externalise, I make a very different experience of the day. And – bonus – I have something like 777 useable words down before it even really starts.

See, the muse doesn’t care for social acceptance, book sales or writing advice. She doesn’t even care for thoughts, because she is a beast of intuition that merely plays with our language centre as though is were a harp.

If the prose isn’t flowing, the sure ways to attract it (for me, at least) are:

  1. Run a bubble bath hot enough to forget the world outside the door. And don’t take a notepad.
  2. Take a drive that will last at least an hour, and listen to music. Anything will do.
  3. Meditate.

Ray Bradbury described the muse as being like a cat that will resist attention and then follow on quietly as you walk away. I like that, because cats also like to scratch at an occupied bathroom door, climb into cars, and climb upon the stillest, most relaxed person in the room.*

The muse has no sense of completion. There is no beginning and there is no end. She will offer up ideas that have no obvious connection to one another, or tell a story in a nonsensical order. But I find if I don’t follow her natural trajectory, and instead force a story into a mould, I’ll end up with something substandard. I’ll produce works that feel mechanical and without heart.

If I have ideas as to how I might later sculpt her secrets, I must keep them on the peripheries until she’s curled up sleeping. That way, by the time it’s done, she’ll no longer care about those particular whispers. Her passion for them was spent by the very act of me listening without judgement, and she’ll have moved onto a new whim. Strangely, the pieces produced when I’m all ears are the ones that need very little in the way of editing.

I have many blog posts, flash fiction pieces, short stories – hell, even novel outlines – that never got past the concept phase. Scraps of prose, fragments of awareness, semi-conscious notions. They are evidence of the times I dared to turn my head away from the muse before she was done with me: betraying her with thought. The time for those pieces has now passed. I won’t hear those secrets again. Just like poems, they have expired.

Sometimes I wonder, could I revive them? But they’d be nothing more than shells, their Aphrodites long flown.

*If you’re not a cat person, consider that your muse might be a dog. You put a leash around her, set off along the path you chose. But, to the ground she wants to sniff, you will always go.

Additional ways to attract the prose that occurred to me post-script, as a direct result of the script:

4. Write a stream of consciousness.
5. Read poetry aloud.

Progress

C R Dudley Author - Orchid's Lantern

Exciting things are happening behind the scenes at Orchid’s Lantern!

I have finally decided to independently publish under the name C R Dudley: some of you have already noticed I’ve started changing my social media accounts to reflect this. Orchid’s Lantern will be the name of my publisher and I’m having a logo designed for it, which will appear on the back of my books and my website. 

I am currently editing and compiling a selection of flash fiction for my first official publication. I expect there will be 30 – 35 stories included, many of which have already featured here on my blog but some are brand new. I am working with the title Fragments of Perception which I believe captures the essence of my work, what do you think? I’d also be interested to learn from my regular readers what genre you would describe my stories as? This could play an important part in how I present them.

Once the editing is complete in about a months’ time I will be looking for a couple of beta readers to look over the collection with a critical eye. If you’d be interested in doing this, please drop an email to orchidslantern@gmail.com so we can discuss. I will gladly return the favour if anyone is in need.  

My novel is progressing and about to enter a second draft stage. This will involve a fair amount of re-writing from the first draft as I now have a stronger, clearer idea of what needs to happen to achieve my vision. I’m working under the title The Enlightenment Machine for this. Broadly, it is about a man taking part in experimental therapy living underground with similarly afflicted individuals. The world he is exploring is changing his outlook but something unknown is slipping through the cracks that no one is yet equipped to deal with… 

Some of you may be pleased to know I have also done some more work on The Old Woman, The Stag, And Me (working title only as it’s grammatically incorrect among other things). Looking at the outline, I think this will likely end up at novelette length but could be slow progress as I am desperate to press on with the novel foremost. 

Lastly, I’ve written a couple more flash fiction pieces to submit to anthologies which I hope are fruitful.  

I hate to be creating new work and not sharing it straight away, but hopefully it will all be worth it. Once I have Fragments of Perception nailed, I will be back to putting my flash fiction straight onto the blog as it is ready. A big thank you once again to everyone who follows and interacts with this blog (almost 500 of you now!), your support is my confidence.

Noodles

Abstract Art Painting

My mate Jerry is off on a fast-paced wild goose chase with his mind. Seriously man, he’s really going for it this time, grappling with any scrap of information he comes across like its a key to the holy grail. I’m just sat over here on the hill having a smoke, watching him dig deeper underground and burn out all that crazy energy. It’s quite entertaining to be honest, and it’ll pass the time ‘til Sheila comes round later. I’ll have a bath before then probably, if there’s any hot water, and maybe have a tidy round the flat. I’m gonna cook for her: pasta and cheese. I don’t cook for just anyone mind, but I reckon she’s worth more than a packet of 10p noodles, you know? She’s used to being wined and dined, and her Dad’s in the Air Force, so I’ll have to make a bit of an effort or I don’t fancy my chances of seeing her again.

Continue reading “Noodles”

An Interlude

Hello! This is a rare post in which I update you on my writing projects instead of leaving said projects to speak for themselves… normal service will resume shortly.

Firstly, I wanted to let you know I have shared 100 posts on WordPress as of this week, and I’m quote proud of that of little milestone. I am truly overwhelmed by the support and positive feedback I’ve been getting on here, and I’d like to thank each of you who has taken the time to read, like and comment on this blog. I would especially like to thank Paul at Two Voices In One Transmission, The Modern Leper, and Jac Forsyth for their continued encouragement – without you guys I doubt I’d have the confidence that my particular brand of strange is appealing enough to pursue. If you haven’t had a chance to check out their blogs I highly recommend all three of them, they are very talented writers indeed. Please remember that constructive criticism is also welcomed on my fiction, because I am always striving to improve.

I also wanted to tell you that I now have a Facebook page, so please pay me a visit over there if you have an account. I plan to post links to my fiction, interesting articles I come across over the course of my research, and highlight other authors I think are worthy of recognition. I will also use it to share my creative progress. I am on Twitter too, if that’s more your thing.

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Sand, Rocks, and the Writing Process

I feel as though I have come a long way since my NaNoWriMo attempt 5 months ago, which is when I began formulating the idea that will become my novel. I still don’t have a completed first draft, but I have necessarily overcome some roadblocks and learned a whole lot about my preferred writing process, and I thought some of those experiences were worth sharing.

Continue reading “Sand, Rocks, and the Writing Process”

4. The Trouble with Reality

Note: This is a continuation of the story that began here The Old Woman, the Stag, and Me and continued here The Howling Woman and here A Box Among the Stars. You can read those segments first if you like, or you can simply join the story right here. There is also a category on my home page for easy reference to the previous parts.

 

The trouble with Reality is that its people are fearful of the unfamiliar. They laugh nervously when asked about their dreams, and the notion that they might have a spiritual self makes them oddly uncomfortable. It is as though they have become so strongly rooted in rationality they have no capacity to entertain ideas where no logic exists. In the same way the brain only processes a small proportion of what they see, and fills in the gaps with what they expect to see, they have become blind to the fantastic.

I estimate that the stag left the hotel on no less than five occasions during that first week without covering up his hooves and antler stumps fully, but not once was his met with the screams of terror you might expect. There was one time he was asked to pose for a photograph, by a child who thought his costume was awesome, but other than that no one seemed to notice.

Continue reading “4. The Trouble with Reality”

2. The Howling Woman

This is a continuation of the story that began here: The Old Woman, the Stag and Me. You may like to read that first if you haven’t already, but it isn’t a prerequisite.


As it turned out, it was the materialisation of the myth ‘The Howling Woman’ that finally gave us our omen to leave the village. Here’s how events panned out.

Among the stag’s clients there was a gentle dowager who cried almost all of the time. She had lost her daughter, she said, though there were no records of her ever having one. It was generally surmised among the village folk that what she had lost was in fact her marbles, as a result of her husband coming to grief at a trial for treason and subsequently being hanged. She lived all alone in the years that followed, and most were disdainful towards her with no rational cause. She came to the stag for a finding potion, and begged of him to take her sorrow.

Finding potions weren’t known for their usefulness when dealing with people who didn’t exist, so at first he went down the route of anguish-removal. He tried spells made from Buddhist proverbs, in attempt to align her to the idea that sorrow, like pleasure, was a fleeting thing that must be allowed to come and go like the wind. He tried filling her with warming light, that it might kindle her own inner glow. And he tried an elixir – just two drops per day – made from pure euphoria and tears of joy. It was unheard of for such things to fail, but the daughter remained lost. Putting on a jester performance raised a smile or two, but the sadness in her eyes seemed insurmountable.

Continue reading “2. The Howling Woman”