Thursday, December 23, 2004

"Sing, O Muses . . ."

This was one of those nights when the stars aligned, the planets harmonized, and all the Muses decided to show up for work. The words literally sang of the tips of my fingers. The scene was an open-sided pavilion, a lamp hanging from the carved cedar center pole, and several hundred curious Persian soldiers listening to Memnon, Mentor, and Artabazus debate their future. The rebel army had taken a beating, and the forces of the Great King were bearing down on them, their ranks swelled by Pammenes of Thebes and five thousand of the rebels' former allies. Would they stay and fight? Would they flee? Suffice it to say, Memnon delivers an eloquent plea for the soldier's not to forget their wives, their children, and to consider their fates when deciding where they should make their last stand. It tumbled out so fast my stubby little fingers were hard pressed to keep up!

When the words are flowing well, I'm reminded of a line from the movie Shakespeare in Love: "For six-pence I can cause a riot in a nunnery". That's how it felt. Stopping to read what I'd written, I got a thrill up my spine. I am, and will always be, my first reader. I write stories that I enjoy, stories I'd buy. It's the only way to keep myself interested for 500 pages. But I'm a slow writer. Most days, if feels as though I'm trying to sculpt a frieze from a block of granite the size of Mt. Everest. Then, there are days like today. They are rare, but they happen just enough to become addicted to the feeling. Creative heroin. Once a scene erupts from your mind virtually intact in a single try, all other highs pale in comparison. You have to have more. Another fix. You'll lie, cheat, and steal for one more paragraph, just one! And by the end of the day, you feel exhausted. Wrung out, physically and mentally. And like the after-glow of incredible sex, this feeling of supreme satisfaction steals over you, erasing a whole week of lackluster quickies and uninspired nooners.

No doubt I'll read over it tomorrow and cut out a word here, a comma there. Cosmetic changes. And I'll remember the feeling. I'll remember it and agonize over what I was doing to call down the creative thunder, and when will it happen again. When?

I love writing . . .

1 comment:

Sam said...

Hi Scott -
Your book sounds more fascinating each time I hear about it. I can't wait for Men of Bronze!!!
Here's wishing you and your family a happy Christmas!