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I know, a weird combination of subjects, right? And yet here they are, together on this very page!

First, the man who saved the bunnies: A Marine corpsman stationed at Camp Pendleton found a dead rabbit while out and about on the base, and after exploring nearby he discovered four baby bunnies, which he took home and fed and raised until they were old enough to survive on their own (more pics). This man is my hero :) He apparently also rescued kittens in Iraq, and he also mentions finding a tiny tiny frog which he named Crouton. I don't know why, but that made me laugh hysterically for quite some time.

On WritingOn another note, I'm re-reading Stephen King's On Writing and very much enjoying it. He's straightforward and blunt and some of his observations are remarkably perceptive. "The road to hell is paved with adverbs," he says, comparing them to dandelions (one is pretty, but next thing you know they've invaded everywhere) and advising you to avoid them like the plague. Then he goes on to theorize that writers tend to use adverbs when they are less-confident -- they aren't sure that they've shown what's happening and therefore feel the need to also tell:

Consider the sentence He closed the door firmly. It's by no means a terrible sentence (at least it's got an active verb going for it) but ask yourself if firmly really needs to be there. You can argue that it expresses a degree of difference between He closed the door and He slammed the door, and you'll get no argument from me...but what about the context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before He closed the door firmly? Shouldn't this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, isn't firmly an extra word? Isn't it redundant?

Then he goes on to talk about Tom Swifties and the popular game of making up punny ones (You've got a nice butt lady," he said cheekily.) and closes by saying, "When debating whether or not to make some pernicious dandelion of an adverb part of your [writing], I suggest you ask yourself if you really want to write the sort of prose that might wind up in a party game."

Here is where he talks about his idea of the Muse; it's quite a bit different in detail from what most people might think, but he's got the essence of it correct: that the muse is capricious and you've got to work to catch/deserve their attention.

...if you don't want to work your ass off, you have no business trying to write well...There is a muse,* but he's not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He's a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think this is fair? I think it's fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (what I get out of mine is mostly surly grunts, unless he's on duty), but he's got the inspiration. It's right that you should do all the work and burn the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There's stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know. (pp. 138-39)

*Traditionally the muses were women, but mine's a guy; I'm afraid we'll all just have to live with that.

A few pages later, after he's talked about how it helps to have a place you can go (and if you're starting out, it's especially important that that place have as few distractions as possible!), he says this:

But you need the room, you need the door, and you need the determination to shut the door. You need a concrete goal, as well. The longer you keep to these basics, the easier the act of writing will become. Don't wait for the muse. As I've said, he's a hard-headed guy who's not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This isn't the Ouija board or the spirit-world we're talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you're going to be every day from nine til noon or seven til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he'll start showing up, chomping his cigar and making his magic.

Like I said, the details aren't what I imagine (I can't picture a cigar-smoking muse, but Damon Runyon and Ed McBain probably could!), but I agree with the core principles: work hard and make the muse feel welcome

Comments

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ladyoneill
Jun. 23rd, 2013 03:18 pm (UTC)
I like this take on the muse. *g* Mine's Spike, so a guy, too. And he can be a real unhelpful bastard. *g*
delphipsmith
Jun. 23rd, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
Spike as a muse, heh heh heh. Well, he certainly qualifies as a basement guy who sits around smoking and drinking :D
droxy
Jun. 23rd, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
Hee...

I keep thinking of this now.

delphipsmith
Jun. 23rd, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
LOL! That's perfect :D
teddyradiator
Jun. 23rd, 2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
I LOVE his take on the Muse - his book on writing is so inspirational. But he's right - if you stand around waiting for the Muse to show up, you're doing both of you a disservice. You have to slog and the more you slog, the more you're given. You might get the idea while you're just daydreaming but unless you sit down and start mixing the cement and making the bricks, that house ain't gonna get built.
delphipsmith
Jun. 23rd, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
"The more you slog, the more you're given." That's it in a nutshell. The Muse helps them who helps themselves :)
squibstress
Jun. 23rd, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
King's book has some of the best practical advice I've read. I'm afraid I don't have a muse--just ideas that interest and excite me to varying degrees--but it's certainly a fact that you just have to sit down and work it if you want anything good to come of it.
delphipsmith
Jun. 23rd, 2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
Highly practical, yes, I agree (oops, there's an adverb slipping in!). As to having a muse, I'm not sure I've set up a welcoming enough environment for one yet. I certainly haven't mastered the knack of going in the room and shutting the door. One of my goals for this year -- unmet thus far, alas -- was to do more of that. A big reason I like fests is they give me a deadline :)
pyttan
Jun. 23rd, 2013 09:01 pm (UTC)
I love King's On Writing. That book gave me so much on so many levels, both in practical terms and as an inspirational book.

I agree with squibstress about muse though. I get ideas. Half baked ideas that doesn't really get any shape at all until I start writing. And that is the key for me. I need to sit down and write.
delphipsmith
Jun. 24th, 2013 12:35 am (UTC)
I re-read it every couple of years and I always find something new in it. I love that he plugs Strunk and White's The Elements of Style -- talk about emphasizing the basics! I have the fancy-schmancy illustrated edition and love it :)
reynardo
Jun. 24th, 2013 11:19 am (UTC)
Only two things to say...
Blank Page and then Muse
delphipsmith
Jun. 25th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
"I'm your f**king muse, you little polyp." LOL!
mimimanderly
Jun. 25th, 2013 10:48 am (UTC)
I love King's On Writing. I was surprised to find, when I read it the first time, that he and I have a lot of the same M.O. Spontaneous ideas that pop into one's head in the shower. Check. Not knowing where it's going or how it's going to end when you sit down to write. Check. Having the characters tell you where they're going -- even if it overrules your previous ideas. Check. His Muse is vastly different than my own, though. Mine sweet-talks and gets into every aspect of my life. But it's amazing how many writers mention having a Muse now, whereas just a few years ago, they might be afraid to be perceived as batty.

delphipsmith
Jun. 26th, 2013 12:37 am (UTC)
Having the characters tell you where they're going -- even if it overrules your previous ideas. Check.

Yeah, I enjoyed that too -- he talks about how much fun that is when it happens, and says that part of the reason he writes is to find out what happens :)
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