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Archive for ‘Inspiration’

Ironing is a Musing

What is it about ironing that’s so damned inspiring to me? I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. And yet, I always seem to get my best ideas while doing the very thing I dislike.

 

Me: I don’t wanna!

 

Muse: (Poking me in the ribs with her big stick) Stop winging and do it already. I don’t have all day.

 

Me: (Glaring at her over my shoulder as I set up the ironing board) I’m busy. I got stuff to do.

 

Muse: (A harder poke. This time in the stomach) Stop wasting my time. And get on with it. I’ve got places to go, people to inspire.

 

Me: (grabbing a very wrinkled shirt and slamming it down on the ironing board – after I catch my breath)

 

Muse: Now, about this story you’re trying to write. Just how does Michael become a fallen angel?

 

Me: (pouting) You tell me. You’re the muse.

 

Muse: (nodding at the sleeve of the shirt) You missed a spot.

 

Me: Right. ( ironing and thinking) Michael. He loses a bet. At Buried Pleasures. That’s how he does it.

 

Muse: Big deal. Lots of people lose bets. Most people lose bets. That’s gambling, that’s not a story. That’s boring. How does he lose? Who is he playing? What does he want?

 

Me: (carefully ironing the seam along a pair of trousers) He’s playing poker with Magda Gardener. He bets his wings.

 

Muse: (rolling eyes and giving me another poke) Cliché much? Pa-lease! Don’t waist my time. An angel losing his wings is the oldest ploy in the book. Tell me the story. Go over it again from the beginning. Out loud.

 

Me: (Starting another shirt) Well, what if he keeps winning, even though he wants to lose.

 

Muse: That’s better. That’s better. Tell me more.

 

Me: (Repeating more slowly the plot so far)

 

Muse: … Aaaaaand …

 

Me: (cramming a shirt on a hanger and grabbing for another – a little more violently than necessary) … And, I don’t know. I don’t know already! That’s my problem, isn’t it?

 

Muse: (Poking me hard in the ribs) Think! It’s what you have that brain for, isn’t it. You might try using it.

 

Me: (Grinding my teeth and rubbing my poor bruised ribs while offering up a few whispered curses to whatever writing god decided to send me the sadistic Muse from hell) Can’t I go for a walk to get inspired?

 

Muse: It’s raining, and you’ll just get distracted. Besides you have to do the ironing anyway. Focus. Focus! What’s more important to an angel than wings?

 

I iron another shirt. My head hurts from thinking. I drink some more tea. I iron another shirt and another, careful to get all the wrinkles out. All the while Muse simply watches me. At last she grabs a glass from the cupboard, pulls out the bottle of Glenmorangie and pours herself a generous amount. She sips and watches and taps the end of her stick on the floor.

 

I iron and iron and iron while I go over the plot so far out loud. I go over it again and again and again.

 

And suddenly it happens — that Eureka moment that, for some dumb-assed reason, comes only when I’m ironing.

 

Me: I have it! I know! (nearly burning my finger with the iron before setting it upright and pushing it away to pace the kitchen a couple of times) I have it! I know what’s more important to an angel than wings. I know exactly what Michael has to lose, and I know that once he loses it, he can never, ever get it back.

 

Muse: (Lifts her glass and salutes me, then downs the rest of the whisky) Good girl. (She never has to ask. She always
knows when I really do have it. She sets down her empty glass, pats my arm and smiles) Now finish up here and get busy. The story won’t write itself.

 

And just like that, she’s gone – off to poke someone else in the ribs and drink their whisky. My Muse may be sadistic, but she’s effective. And suddenly I don’t mind. I got exactly what I needed for the story and the ironing is done to boot.

 

Latent Creativity

 

I’m just in from the garden doing a little weeding and a lot of shucking sweet corn. This may sound strange, but that got me thinking about latent creativity. I’ve been contemplating the subject for a while now. Sometimes my most creative insights come when I’m not doing anything that has to do with writing. The best story and novel ideas seldom come from me sitting around trying to think of great plots. They come to me when I’m doing something totally different. They come to me when I least expect it.

 

 

 

That’s why I call it latent creativity. Some of the best plot solutions, story twists, character actions, some of the most exciting story elements come to me when I’m doing something totally different. That’s when the creative force finds an unexpected opening and ploughs its way full blown into my imagination. I’m convinced that there are some activities in which there is a whole lot more latent creativity than others, and it’s different for every writer. But I do believe that those activities are most often either creative or meditative in their own right.

 

 

As you can probably guess if you’ve been keeping track of what’s going on in my life, and if you’ve read much of my writing, veg gardening is a great way to stimulate my latent creativity. I love the whole process – even the weeding. But I’m especially fond of picking green beans. There’s just something meditative and wonderful about rummaging through the foliage for hidden treasure. Plus green beans are one of my favorite veggies. I have been known, from time to time, to be inspired enough to write a little veggie porn.

 

 

You don’t have to know me very long before you know I love walking. In fact I love it so much I walked all across England a few years ago. I can’t even count the number of times long walks have inspired that latent creativity that leads to a story or a novel. Walking is probably the most direct form of latent creativity for me. Because I’ve often walked to solve plot problems or work out blocks in a story, I consider walking more writing-on-the-hoof.

 

 

Along similar lines, but perhaps a little more latent source of creativity is any kind of working out. I love kettle bells, Pilates, I am enjoying the hell out of learning pole dance, and I love creating my own workouts at home. Unlike walking, there’s no time to really engage the brain on any level but the physical act in which I’m involved. Sometimes, however, that means afterwards my mind is clear enough of the detritus that I’m ready for a good hard shot of inspiration.

 

 

Okay, ironing is not one of my favourite activities, but strangely enough, it really is a source of latent creativity. For some strange reason I find myself quite often able to solve plot problems or coming up with new story ideas while I’m sweating over a hot iron. Who’da thunk it? Makes me wish there was a bit more latent creativity in housework, but sadly, for me there isn’t, so less of that happens than probably should. A writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do, after all.

 

 

Finally reading a good book is a great source of latent creativity for me. A lot of people ask if I find that if I read, I inadvertently pull ideas from the book I’m reading at the time. No, I don’t. I consider a good book to be one that takes my mind completely off whatever it is that I’m writing at the time. I read for the shear pleasure of it. In a lot of ways reading a good book works the same magic on my creative process as working out does. If the author whose novel I’m reading has done her job, then I won’t have any room in my head to engage in anything else but the romp said author has created for me. The result being that I go back to my own work refreshed and inspired.

 

 

There are lots of other places where I find latent creativity from time to time, and that’s always a wonderful surprise. But the above are consistent and treasured (well okay the ironing maybe not so treasured) sources of inspiration for me. I’m sure for every writer the list is different. I’m also sure that every person has his or her own sources of latent creativity. Writers haven’t cornered the market. Everyone is creative in one way or another. That being the case, I would suggest we would all be happier and more satisfied in our lives if we took time to cultivate that latent creativity and see where the experience leads us.

 

 

Permission to Write Badly

 

(From the Archives)

I’ve done NaNoWriMo often enough now and finished it that I know the value of giving myself permission to write badly. Permission to write badly is permission to FINISH a project and not get bogged down in the first four chapters. Right now I’m working on the rewrite of Piloting Fury, last November’s NaNoWriMo project, and my first ever scifi. I don’t mind saying I’m rather proud of it, but I wouldn’t have finished the first draft if I hadn’t given myself permission to just loosen my collar and let the words flow. Below is a post I wrote several years ago that seems very relevant every time I begin a final draft. Permission to write badly is always the reason I have a final draft to finish.

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing lately and what makes it work. Why is it that sometimes it flows and other times it just doesn’t? The first time I realised I might be able to exert some control over that flow, that I might be able to do more than sit in front of a keyboard and hope the Muse would take pity on me, was when I read Natalie Goldberg’s classic book, Writing Down the Bones. There I discovered the timed writing. It’s simple really. You write non-stop for a given amount of time. You write against the clock, and you don’t stop writing until time runs out. No matter what! You write whatever comes without fretting over whether it’ll be good. And when you’re done, some of the end result – even a good bit of the end result – might be crap. But mixed in with that crap might just be the seeds of something wonderful.

At the time I felt like I’d been asked to write with my left hand. Even writing for five minutes seemed like a daunting task when I made my first attempts. But Natalie Goldberg knew what she was talking about. I was amazed at what came out of the abyss between my ears! It was only after I read Writing Down the Bones that I began to write real stories. So why did one book make such a difference?

I finally had something I lacked in the past, something very important. I had permission to write badly. Every writer needs permission to write badly. Later Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist Way, called those off-the-cuff, devil-may-care writings morning pages, and she prescribed three morning pages every day – written without forethought; written in haste. From a fiction writer’s perspective, she didn’t give them the weight that Natalie Goldberg did. They were only a part of a plan to open the reader to the artist within. To her, they were more about venting, sort of a daily house-cleaning for the brain. In addition to morning pages, Cameron insisted that every creative person should give themselves what she called an artist date once a week. An artist date was a date with oneself away from writing.

I can’t count the number of times I stood myself up for my artist dates. I would have broken up with me long ago if I were actually dating me. But then I realised that an artist date didn’t have to be dinner and dancing or shopping or even visiting a museum. An artist date was a change of pace. It could even be ironing or weeding the garden. In fact the whole point of the artist date was to create space in which I could disengage the internal editor and give myself permission to write badly.

 

 

So many of us are under the impression that every word we write must be precious and worth its weight in gold. What I’ve learned since I discovered the pleasure of writing badly is that on the first draft, every word is most definitely not precious. On the first draft, every word is a crazy frivolous experiment. Every word is a chance to test the waters, to play in the mud, to let my hair loose and run dancing and screaming through the literary streets. Every word is a game and an adventure. Every word is eating ice cream with sprinkles for the main course. Every word is shit; every word is compost, and every word is the ground out of which the next draft will grow. I never know what’ll work until I try it. I never know what my unconscious will come up with while I’m writing like a wild crazy person, grabbing words and cramming them in and rushing on to the next ones – just after I’ve pulled the weeds in the garden. Without that bold and daring first draft, without opening the floodgates and letting the words spill onto the page, there’s nothing to work with when the next draft comes. And when the next draft comes, the words do get precious. Every single one becomes weighty and irritable and reluctant to fit anywhere but the place it belongs, the place where I feel it just below my sternum like the point of an accusing finger.

But by the time I get to the second draft, by the time I get to that place where every word has to be perfect, I’m up for it. I’m ready to slow down and feel what every word means. I’m ready to find all the nuance and all the cracks and crevices of meaning in between the words. I’m ready for it because I’ve been playing up until now, and I’ve been allowing the words to play. And now, recess is over!

The longer I write, the more I realise what else, besides Natalie Goldberg’s timed writings and Julia Cameron’s reluctant artist dates, get me there. And what gets me there is often totally being somewhere else, somewhere other than writing. Sometimes it’s playing the piano badly, or sweating at the gym, or weeding the veg patch. Sometimes it’s walking through the woodland not thinking about anything, Sometimes it’s reading something frivolous. Sometimes it’s reading something profound. All the space that taking time not to write opens up inside me makes room for that wild ride of the first draft. And when that first draft is finished, I have what I need to pick and choose, to sort through and sift, to change and rearrange until I find the best way to tell my tale. But up until then, it’s child’s play. It’s dancing naked. It’s shameless abandon and multiple verbal orgasms.

Writing badly? Permission granted.

 

Sex as a Creative Act

(From the Archives)

Sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities.  –Erica Jong

 Several years ago Victoria Blisse and I led a panel discussion on sex and spirituality, a discussion we both felt was essential to erotica writers. We didn’t know what to expect, but a full house of enthusiastic people willing to share their thoughts on the deep connection between the spiritual and the sexual and the common vocabulary as well as the common experience is what we got. We both came away feeling like we were the richer for the effort, and I came away with my mind racing about that creative act of sex and where it leads us.

A while back my husband emailed me a link to an article about masturbation as a treatment for restless leg syndrome (It’s orgasm that actually seems to help. The means is optional.) I can almost see you scratching your heads in a WTF moment with that statement. 🙂 Anyway, the article led us to an impromptu discussion of all of the other benefits of sex. Sex is a good sleep aid, sex can help with weight loss, sex can improve skin, hair and nails, just to name a few. There was even an article in Psychology Today about semen as an anti-depressant. Strangely enough though, the jury, however, is still out on whether sex is an aid or a deterrent to creativity.

For the naysayers, abstinence has long been championed as a way to focus sexual energy for creative purposes. On the other hand, a 2009 study at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne and the Open University showing that professional poets and artists had almost twice as many sex partners as other people. The study also showed that the number of sex partners increased as creative output went up. The conclusion drawn was that the more creative you are, the more sex partners you were likely to have.

I’m sure that’s a simplification, but I wonder which came first: the sex or the creativity? Is it the creative force that makes us horny, or is it being horny that makes us creative? My guess is that every writer, poet or artist would answer that question differently. However, I don’t think there’s any denying the close connection between the creative force and sexuality. Nor do I think that’s particularly surprising. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Freud was right. It IS all about sex. But I wonder whether we really understand just what sex is all about.

Yes, the basic biology is obvious, but we humans haven’t had sex simply to procreate in a very long time now. We’ve evolved to want, to expect, even to need more from the sex act than just the next generation. Perhaps that goes hand-in- hand with our cultural evolution, what sets us apart from our animal cousins — at least in our own eyes. For humans, all things seem to have evolved two meanings. First there is the concrete realm in which we’re born, nurtured, thrive, reproduce and die. But we develop another level of meaning when we no longer have to use all of our energy just to survive. When starvation is no longer an issue, food and its preparation and presentation become art. When keeping out the cold is no longer an issue, clothing becomes fashion, and magazines tell us how we can be walking galleries for the art of clothing. When finding shelter from the elements is no longer necessary, our very homes become an artistic expression of ourselves. In a world where all our basic needs have evolved more than one meaning, the artistic expression becomes as important as the function.

But all of these necessities are mundane. Sex is not. For our ancestors, sex was the magic by which two people become three. Today sex is the magic by which two people become one, or by which one person becomes more herself or himself. On one hand procreation has given way to re-creation,  but on the other hand, how can an act that has evolved from the very need to create the next generation be rooted in anything but creativity?

How can the process of creating be anything but sexual? Writing a story is a penetrative act resulting in something larger, something much more alive than the words on the page, than the idea conceived. That’s heady stuff. That’s the writer in full rut. It’s intimate, it’s messy, it’s rough and tumble, it’s voyeurism and exhibitionism and full-on heat. If it isn’t, then there hardly seems to be a point.

That being said, anyone who has had good sex, lingering sex in which time seemed no longer to exist, will recall that
what mattered was the wonder of the act itself, the amazing intimacy with the other. Any writer or artist knows that experience up close and personal. At some point the creative act itself becomes the sum total of existence. The writer’s world shrinks to and expands out from that act, and the end no longer matters.

So how did I get from masturbation for restless leg syndrome to once more worshiping at the altar of the Divine Creative Sexual Force? Well I suppose it’s all just a part of the journey isn’t it? And besides, where else would I go with it?

 

Binge Reading at Thirty Thousand Feet

I can’t sleep on planes. Believe me I’ve tried. Even when I have a whole row of seats to spread out in, I still can’t sleep. I tried Melatonin. It just made me twitch. I’ve tried sleep aids. They made me twitch even more. Meditation bores me. Alcohol makes my lips numb and if I press the issue, I get a headache. For Mr. Grace you just have to say the word airplane and he falls asleep. But then he spends a lot more time on them than I do. Still, I do my fair share of crossing the pond. But no joy in Sleepy Town for me — at least not at thirty thousand feet. My solution on any long flight — I either write a good book (well a part of one, anyway) or I read a good book. Sometimes I do a bit of both.

 

I simply pretend the flight is a slumber party,  in which as you might expect, NO slumber happens. While all the ‘grown-ups’ are asleep, I’m awake being totally decadent.I f I have snacks, I graze. In fact I usually make sure there’s good grazing available for a long flight. And I make sure the attendants keep the water and Diet Coke coming. (I limit the alcohol because who need numb lips, right?) Then, oh how I indulge. For me a nine-hour binge read is a gift from the gods! It just never happens unless I’m on a long flight. So for that alone, I’m thankful for flights across the pond.

 

The thing about those long flights, as I’ve mentioned before, is there’s something magical about being quite literally outside time, as you silently, stealthily cross time zone after time zone. How can that not be inspiring? Long-haul flights are a place where you’re not really any place at all. It sometimes feels like you could open those little window shades and glance out into all times and all places at once. Or you might just open the shade and spot a horrible monster straight from Twilight Zone on the wing glaring at you. …Though said monster might actually be glaring at William Shatner.

 

Still … what better place to let the imagine run wild? I’ve been inspired, I’ve been entertained, and I’ve imagined worlds
I doubt I could have thought of in a different environment. Some of my best writing has come on long-haul flights. And some of my best reading.

 

Wherever you like to binge read — and summer is such a great time for a good book binge — eReaders are the best. I love having a whole series right at my fingertips. The only thing I love even better is having several series just waiting for the click of my finger. It’s never been a better time to be a reader.

 

 

 

 

July Binge Reading Freebies and Giveaways. 

 

 

British Bad Boys Box Set FREE!

 

 

 

 

First time! Only time! Limited time! You’ve got until closing time on the 10th to nab your copy, so don’t miss out on another fab free read! I’m very proud to have my own British Bad Boy in the box with my story In Training.

 

British Bad Boys Blurb:

Indulge yourself with this boxed set of stories written by bestselling and award-winning British romance authors. No one knows British bad boys better than they do!

Come and spend time with a dirty-talking London tattoo artist, a Scottish bad boy, a British gangster who won’t take no for an answer, and MORE! These men are all hotter than hell and have accents to die for. Whatever your desire, you’ll find it within these pages.

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In Training Blurb:

Getting fit on reality TV is PR guru, Lauren Michael’s, brainchild for gym equipment and fitness company Physicality, Inc. The brilliant PR stunt involves one brave volunteer who wants to be fit badly enough to submit to the not so tender training techniques of personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, whose successful, but non-conventional, methods would make a drill sergeant look like a fluff ball. But when CEO and owner of Physicality, Inc, Claire Amos, decides her PR ace in the hole needs to walk the talk , Lauren finds herself between a kettle bell and a hard place … er a hard trainer. That’s nightmare enough, but for six weeks, 24/7 the explosive chemistry between the two will be sweated out live on camera for the whole world to see. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Download Now

 

 

FREE BOOKS forJuly and a NEW GIVEAWAY!

Win a Brand New Kindle Fire HD 8!

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love free books? That being the case, Romancing the Dragon has partnered with some amazing authors to bring you free books! All you have to do to claim your copies is click on link below, and then click on the images of the books to download some fab reads.

And, don’t forget to enter the huge giveaway! All participating authors have pitched in to give away a BRAND NEW Kindle Fire HD 8! You can enter this amazing giveaway by clicking on this link!

My novella, Landscapes, is one of the fab freebies in this amazing giveaway, so do make sure you saunter right on over and nab those freebies and get yourself entered for the Romancing the Dragon Giveaway!

Landscapes is one of the prequel stories to the Medusa’s Consortium series.

I didn’t know this until I started writing In The Flesh, book one of the Medusa novels, only to discover that Alonso and Reese are right there in the thick of it. If you’ve not read In The Flesh, be sure to before Blind-Sided comes out. I wouldn’t want you to miss any of the fun.

 

 

 

 

Here’s the blurb for Landscapes:

 

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?

Note: Landscapes has been previously released as part of the Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set.

 

 

Beach Reads Giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

AAAND! The sizzling summer reading just gets better with more chances to win more freebies, including my paranormal romance, In The Flesh, book one of the Medusa’s Consortium Series. Follow The Link to enter. https://authorsxp.com/giveaways/giveaway

 

Win up to 58+ Fun Beach Read eBooks!

 

(2) Grand Prize “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks!

 

(58+) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

 

 

 

 

In the Flesh Blurb:

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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