haiku for the day: daily art

Often successful writers are hit with The Question. You know the one. You’ve probably been asked it a few times yourself. Where do you get your ideas?

Depending on my mood, sometimes I say Jesus, and sometimes I say the Wicked Witch of the West. Most of the time I am just as clueless as the person asking the question. 

Mostly the process is as mysterious to we writers as it is to the questioner. My best answer is to look and listen. But that’s not really helpful to the questioner. That’s why we’ve come up with this Muse. How she’ll take a two-by-four and whack us a good one across the side of the head.

I am serious about the listening and the looking. The thing is that we have to respond when we hear something or observe something that does hit us across the side of the head. I once heard Neil Young say that when he gets an idea he has to drop everything and go and work on it. The only time he doesn’t is if there is a family situation. He didn’t say this but I am sure he is afraid of what might happen if he didn’t respond. And usually it’s a most inconvenient time. Like I’m in the shower.

an empty bus bench
underneath a late night moon
an Edward Hopper

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: The River

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight is the song, Bruce Springsteen’s “The River”.

I first saw this song performed watching the “No Nukes: Musicians United For Safe Energy Concert” Documentary. As soon as I heard it, I knew this Bruce Springsteen knew the kind of place I’d sprang from. You don’t write songs like this ‘less you’ve lived it. And I was on board the E Street Band express.

An Uncle Bardie Writing Tip: The Odor That Keeps On Giving

So this is the twenty-seventh month of writer’s block. You look at your last few words of Chapter 13, better known to you as “The Martians Need Tweezers”. You love the characters and you love the plot. But somehow your muse slipped on a banana peel and had to go to the ER. The doctors tell you she is going to recover, but, for now, she is in a coma in intensive care. You just don’t know what to do. You have a royal case of the stuck in a holeskies and don’t know how to dig yourself out.

Well, Uncle Bardie is coming to your rescue. He has the perfect first aid to get you through.

All you need do is introduce a new character and a new smell. Every time Mr. Newby walks into a room, the other characters discuss the character and the smell. Here’s an example of how that might work:

It’s a party. All the neighborhood is there. Two neighbors are in the corner, discussing the world situation.

Then Neighbor 2 asks Neighbor 1 asks, “What’s that smell?” He has concern in his voice.

“Oh, that’s John,” Neighbor 1 says. “Quite pungent, isn’t he?”

“Who invited him to the party?”

“The Author.”

“Well, can’t we get rid of him?” Neighbor 2 wants to know.

“I wish,” Neighbor 1 says.

Neighbor 2 is ready for some action. “Then let’s do it.”

“Hold on now. You know what happened to the last Character who tried to do something like that?”

“No,” Neighbor 2 says, kind of worried now.

“He ended up in a lake with a bullet in his head. Author was not pleased at Mr. Character’s reaction to the introduction of Character 2 in the story. I think Mr. Character was a bit jealous. After all, he had done all that work, slogging his way through ten chapters. Then Author has to introduce Character 2 at Plot Point One to give him some competition for his Lady Love, Miss Sure Thing. Well, Miss Sure Thing was no longer Miss Sure Thing. Mr. Character sure took care of Character 2 all right. Author was real mad about that turn of events. Not only did Mr. Character end up with a hole in his head. Author made him suffer before he went to the Character Graveyard.”

“Hmmm…” Neighbor 2 says.

“But John over there, I don’t know about. He sure has a good case of fouluptheroomitis. Unfortunately it’s quite common in new characters these days. I do hear that they have a vaccine in the works for it.”

“That’s good to know. You think I would get some brownie points from Author if I went over and talked to Smelly John.”

“I doubt it,” Neighbor 1 says. “But you can try.”

Neighbor 2 drifts over to the other side of the room.

Neighbor 1 says to a friend, “Guess there goes another smoozer.”

Friend says, “Yeah, the smoozers are always the first to go. Author sure hates a butt kisser.”

As you can see by this example, this exercise should get the story back on track. It sure helped me.

Naked

Some people feel naked without their cellphones. They can’t go anywhere without them. Otherwise how would their family and friends and work be able to reach them. It’s awful when you call someone up and get a voice telling them they’re not available. Or even worse, the caller gets dead air. Or dead text.

More folks have been driven insane because of that one thing, dead cellphonitis, than in the entire million years or so of Cro Magnon insanity before. It’s a fact. You don’t believe me. Just check the government statistics. Oh, I forgot, Congress considered the funding for the Department of Cro Magnon Insanity an earmark and it’s out. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Some people feel naked without their makeup. And yes, ladies, that includes guys too. Have you seen what Gene Simmons of KISS looks like without makeup. Needless to say he makes Shrek look like Brad Pitt. No, these people can’t go anywhere without their lipstick or eye shadow or mascara.

But me, I feel naked without my lowly pen and pad. I was out and about the other afternoon, and suddenly the Muse, as she is wont to do, drops an idea out of the seventh dimension where all good ideas come from. And what do you know? I had left my pad and pen at home. These days it’s getting harder and harder to remember those juicy little tidbits that might make a good scene or a blog or a story that just needs telling. Unfortunately I had nary a thing to write on and now that brilliant idea has gone kerplop. I know it was brilliant. I just know it because it is the one that I can’t recall.

Which reminds me of the story of Hadley losing Hemingway’s stories on a train when he was living in Paris. Who knows? Maybe it was “A Perfect Day for Bananfish” and J. D. found it when he was off in Europe fighting the Big One for Truth, Justice and the American Way. We do know that the Salinger met the Maestro and was duly impressed.

All I know is that I just can’t place that story that the Muse dropped on my head. I do know it came because the darn thing hurt. It’s somewhere in my pea-brain. I know it is. But who knows. Some guy named Salinger may find it on a train traveling from Geneva to Paris and publish as his own. That is the way of muses, you know.

Has this ever happened to you?