Tunes for a Monday Morning
The myths we make, the stories we tell

Time and creativity


I'm out of the studio today due to other commitments requiring attention -- including a commitment to myself to take some walking-and-thinking time to focus on a difficult passage in my novel-in-progress. I'll be back here bright and early tomorrow morning, and Myth & Moor will resume!

The Bumblehill Studio

Studio 7

''Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends' embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce....

''Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way.''

- Sarah Waters ("Sarah Waters' Rules for Writers")

Studio 2

''To allow ourselves to spend afternoons watching dancers rehearse, or sit on a stone wall and watch the sunset, or spend the whole weekend rereading Chekhov stories -- to know that we are doing what we’re supposed to be doing -- is the deepest form of permission in our creative lives. The British author and psychologist Adam Phillips has noted, 'When we are inspired, rather like when we are in love, we can feel both unintelligible to ourselves and most truly ourselves.' This is the feeling I think we all yearn for, a kind of hyperreal dream state. We read Emily Dickinson. We watch the dancers. We research a little known piece of history obsessively. We fall in love. We don’t know why, and yet these moments form the source from which all our words will spring.''

- Dani Shapiro (Still Writing: The Perils & Pleasures of a Creative Life)


Words: The Sarah Waters quote is from "Sarah Waters' Rules for Writers" (The Guardian, 23 February, 2010). The Dani Shapiro quote is from Still Writing (Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013), which I recommend. The quotes in the picture captions are from a variety of sources. (Move your cursor over the images to see them.) All rights reserved by the authors.

Pictures: My work studio,  a small cabin by the woods on a Devon hillside.


That is RIGHT where I am now. Chapter 13, and me thinking the beginning is too quick to get my character on his adventure. I am now thinking he needs another interstitial chapter of self-doubt and angst before setting off into the teeth of a Noreaster.



Oh, I am glad to see this was the topic for yesterday, as I missed it while out on a break to the seashore from intense creativity the past fortnight. It was difficult at first to allow myself the shift in expectation. But my spirit was proud that I did shift. Today, as a result, is quite a productive and uplifting day.

I’m deep into 1996 in my memoir, struggling to remember. A walk helps.

with my writing, I find it difficult to stay focused on it right now reading your page I feel inspired to spend some time outside and watch some different art formes one T.V I miss museums a lot right now and the opportunity of visiting out parks that are further away from me

In lock-down, I feel like I should be making loads of progress forward on my words in progress -- yet I am not. (There are thousand, or just one very strong, reason(s) why that is the case. But I am trying.) Regardless -- I am reminded of the adage of my daughter's juggling teacher: "The best jugglers are the students who love picking up balls off of the floor -- because that's where they all end up eventually." So I've been trying lean in to loving picking up where I left off, and loving the sense of re-discovery, and loving the inevitable jog that might turn into a run, that might pick up velocity to spring -- lo! -- into the flow state. Before I crash and need to pick myself up off the floor again.

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