Tag Archives: muse

I Left My Heart…

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A lock on Szabadsag Bridge over the River Danube

I’ve now spent the majority of the summer back in Hungary and I’m not done yet. I previously spent eleven years in Budapest. They were heady years when I grew up in many ways, fell in love, got a proper job, learned to drive, took my degree, first published my creative writing, bought my first properties and found my closest friends. All the above are milestones in one’s life and mine all happened in Hungary.

 

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Budapest is an intoxicatingly beautiful city. In my pretty informed opinion it is the most beautiful in Europe. It is also an entertaining, lively, full on, sometimes maddening, never boring, place to live. I think I needed to step away from the Danube for some years to digest my time here and to write about her with some objectivity.

I am now close to finishing the first draft of my novel which is set between Dublin and Budapest (and Kali medence – which is a beauty spot near Lake Balaton attributed spiritual energy) and the words are flowing. Hungary grabs the imagination and shakes it up in a way I’ve only ever previously experienced in Ireland. I’m enjoyed having Hungary as my muse this summer and grateful also for the years I spent in England which gave me the distance and silence I needed to appreciate Hungary properly and to digest the significance of my time here.

My next stop is Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival… wonder what impact that will have…

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Freestylin’

 

Freewriting is what you write when there’s no one looking. Freewriting is the madman in your brain taking the controls and sending words all the way down to the tips of your fingers. Freewriting is where you’ll find the most brilliant story ideas, if you look hard enough.

To freewrite, just write. Write the first word that comes to mind and then follow it with another. Set an alarm if you can. Don’t worry about grammar, structure, character development – just write. And when you’re done, stand back and take a look. Is there anything in there you can use. I’ll say there is!

Here’s an example:

‘Right now I’m sitting at my computer and the coffee cup is on the edge of my desk. It looks a little like an iceberg, as it is white and chipped and cold because the coffee has been in it since the morning as I didn’t do the washing up last night and the sink is full of plates and saucers. All those plates look surreal sitting unwashed in the sink like that. All at different angles like a Picasso painting with ketchup instead of paint dribbled over the plates. I wonder if Picasso got his ideas from waking up one morning and seeing his jumble of washing up in the sink I wonder if all the museums in the world actually have pictures of Picasso’s washing up and not his mistresses and Guernica and does that mean the joke is on us?’

The above freewrite might seem silly but it’s also an example of how freewriting could, potentially, inspire a proper piece of writing. This daft thought about Picasso’s washing up could easily be worked into a comedy radio play where a hung-over Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse wake up after a night out on the town and dare each other to paint a picture of the mess of washing up in the sink. Thus, the modern art movement is accidentally launched. Another possibility you could take from this freewrite is the concept that something generally considered ugly and in need of repair or attention (washing up) can lead to tremendous artistic inspiration – and this idea could form the kernel of a short story or a poem.

Here, chose one of the prompts below and let it lead you into a three minute freewrite.

I wish I had said….

It was no use pretending….

A long time ago…

For the first time ever….


All Hail Snails

Candles in Budapest

Snails. I have a thing for snails. It’s odd, I know, but we’ve all got something… Snails feature in my writing a lot. My award winning play was called ‘shellakybooky’ – a child’s word for ‘snail’ in Ireland. My Molly Keane Winning story featured a sock stuffed with snails and my latest stageplay has snails’ trails predicting the future in their particular weird, silvery fashion.

I love the oddness of snails’ appearance, their independence (carrying their homes on their back) and the fact that they leave a magical trail behind them. I envy their slowness, their lack of need to rush (and wish I had that confidence of approach). And even the word ‘snail’ has private significance for me. So when snails appear, I feel the muse is at hand.

Today, I arrived in from the garden and a housemate noted a baby snail was crawling across my head. I admit not everyone would be delighted to find a snail in their hair, however, this occured just after I’d been told a story about Buddha’s alleged debt to snails. I’m not a Buddhist but the story appeals:

“During a severe summer, a group of snails crept onto Buddha’s head and shielded him from sunstroke, their horns drawing enlightenment for the Master.  And these snails gave up their lives in the process. In gratitude, the Master bore their shells on his head for the rest of his life.”

So, having a snail on my head puts me in pretty serious enlightened company.

There are writers feel story and character ideas are fed to them from “somewhere else”. Clearly, that “somewhere else” is a very vague concept and means different things to different scribes. Nonetheless, writers who hold such beliefs say it is very important to allow your mind to be open to receiving these ideas – wherever they come from.

I find it a comfort to think that ideas come to me from some external source – and if that slow and steady, methodical snail is the one inspiring me or bringing me enlightenment – then I’m cool with the magic.