where the writers are
Pure Imagination

            I just reread Ericka Lutz's blog about inspiration, and Kemble Scott's formula in what makes a writer. Kemble's formula of the A/C (Ass/chair) is of course necessary when it comes to writing, although I have another name for it. I call it bum glue, and I'll share something else what helps in the writing process.

            First off, bum glue. I am stealing this from Margaret George, who stole it from Bryce Courtney. The theory is this: He/she who has the bum glue, wins.

            For instance, I once read that Joyce Maynard wanted to write a novel. Burned out from writing magazine articles, she wanted more. She hired a baby-sitter for her baby girl, and then she got out her typewriter. She knew she had three weeks to write a first draft. It didn't have to be perfect, but she had to show up for her characters, and get a lot of work done. She wrote every morning, and three weeks later, she had a first draft of her novel Baby Love done.  

            If you want to see bum glue in full turbo action, you can't look further than Meg Cabot. Every morning she sits down in her bed with her laptop and writes. It might be a new Princess Diaries book, a new series for middle schoolers, or a mystery. She just does it, and she is prolific and proud.

            If you want to see massive bum glue, then go to coffee shops in November. Why is November so special, you ask? It is National Novel Writing Month, where thousands of people start novels and if their bum glue holds, they have novels at the end of the month. I've done Nanowrimo twice and twice I've had two books done. One wasn't good, one has potential. It was because I got the extra strength bum glue.

            The past couple of months I found my bum glue again. I get up, play with Ida B., have breakfast, take a cup of tea and write. Okay, I start off with my blog and some people don't consider blogs writing. To them I say, well, tough. When you are sharing what you know, what you rant about, what you love, is, to quote Louise Fitzhugh's Ole Golly-Wallerstein, is to bring love in the world. I also try to shoehorn writing assignments from workshops and revising as well. The bum glue is working all right.

            Now to Ericka's question: where do you get inspiration?

            I quote another person who has bum glue: Julia Cameron.

            Julia Cameron, in case you don't know, is the creator of the hugely popular The Artist's Way. The Artist's Way is for recovering writers, actors, and artists (um, duh, the title is a giveaway) who have been stumbling and want to get unblocked. The basic tools Cameron say works are Morning Pages and Artist's Dates. I've filled up notebook after notebook with junk, and I notice it does work. I can go for years without doing them, and then I need to them. However, there's another thing that works that Cameron created: The Artist's Dates.

            Artist's Dates are when once a week you do something artistic, something for yourself. Your inner artist is a little kid wanting attention, and you need to give attention to it. Alternatively, as Beth Lisick wrote, treat her like a lady. Now some people might sniff at this and say, "Oh, please." Yet I do think it works as well.

            Since I don't drive, I walk a lot. Sometimes I feel like this is to my advantage as a writer, because I discover more when I walk. Years ago I was walking in Berkeley after returning library books, and I passed by a movie theater. To my surprise, Waiting for Guffman was playing. I thought it wasn't playing anymore, so I was delighted to go in and sit in an empty theater and laugh at Christopher Guest calling the Blaine City Council Bastard People. After the movie, I went home and worked on the novel I was writing at the time, recharged.

            For a couple of years I had Tuesdays off. I would go to the SF MOMA for their free days with a notebook, and wander around, looking at the pictures. One picture that caught my eye was a girl eating ice cream in front of a store. I was so taken by this picture I sat down and I wrote a scene for my novel. This became a chapter in my novel. Okay, the novel is sitting in a drawer, but I still got writing done.

            A month later I went back to see the Keith Haring exhibit. After wandering around looking at the pictures, I started writing. Then a guard came over and gave me a golf pencil. Stunned, I asked why. He kept on giving me the pencil. Finally, I stormed off, angry at the inartistic security guard. Then something came to me. I went to the café and I wrote quickly in my notebook. I read it the next month in an open mike, realizing I had a poem. I sent it to an e-zine, and it was one of the first pieces I got published. I've put in my writing section and it can be found here:


            Sometimes I get so carried away with writing and life I forget the Artist's Dates, I forget to have fun. That's happened to me the past couple of weeks, so I knew I needed a break. Last night I put on Daisy Kenyon, an old Joan Crawford/Henry Fonda movie with Daisy torn between two lovers. When I was watching it I felt myself relax, recharged. Little things didn't seem to matter anymore.

            A couple of years ago after writing, I turned on the radio. A beautiful acoustic version of "Pure Imagination" came on. A woman sang:

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly wish to be.

            I'm really lucky to be truly free in my life, to have pure imagination on my side.