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Suze is Hunting Muses, 4

A day late and a dollar short ;)

By Proud ViM ProductionsPublished about a month ago 6 min read

Hi. My name is Suze Kay, and I’m a proud moderator of Voices in Minor, a community of Vocal authors who desire to uplift, inspire, and support one another. Every Wednesday, PViM will publish a weekly round-up of whatever lures my muses closer to my writing nook.


Well, this was supposed to happen yesterday, but it didn't. I quite literally have no excuse except all day yesterday, I thought this was for today. So, happy Thursday, I guess. And happy Spring as well! Despite a return to 30˚F temperatures in my corner of the world, it is starting to feel Springy. The sun is strong and settles in my bones. The rain is patchier, with long drifts of blue sky between spits. Yesterday, I found hyacinth in the soil and forsythia stretching long yellow arms from behind a fence.

Hello, scraggly ones!

It's been a good week. I spent most of it in a beautiful haze, reading entries for the Dragon Beside Me Challenge, and I've come away with a new appreciation for the talent on this site. How clever you all are. How passionate. How strong. Thank you, one and all, for sharing your stories with us. Make sure to check out our list of winners and give them all a pat on the back.

So, other than a million of your words, what else has been chasing its tail around in my head this week? (If you're wondering, yes, still Kate Middleton, but I'm really trying to move on, so I'll say no more on that.)

Overall, I'd have to say: structure. When I embarked on this series, I thought up a framework that felt right. I'd share with you a piece of music, a book, a poem or essay, and a life experience that fed my muse. That worked well... for all of two weeks. Last week, I wasn't particularly inspired by anything I read, so I wrote about my all-time greats instead.

Once again, I am now sat down to write this installment and find that the literature and media I'm consuming have been pleasurable, but not particularly sparky. My muse has still been happy. I wrote a couple of poems -- "Made//Unmade" and "Need" -- both of which were inspired by small tidbits I found on the internet.

If nothing else, I am learning that my muse abhors a box. She loves routine and repetition -- pour over coffee prepared just so every morning, evening phone calls with Mom, endless stirring of egg whites and sugar over a double boiler -- but only so she can mark the interior change. The intangible moment of inspiration. The thoughts that won't shut up.

So, f*ck the system. When a piece of media sparks the thought, you'll hear it here first. In the interim, let's get weird.


The changing of the guard

I'm obsessed with Scrub Mommy sponges. I hate a stinky sponge, and this is the only brand I've found that's at once tough enough to scrub away crud-encrusted cast iron pans and gentle enough to wipe a crystal wine glass without smelling like a moldy foot. That's extended the life expectancy of my kitchen companion dramatically.

A month ago, I worried that cleaning up my chocolate work had ruined my working companion. I bought her replacement. I didn't put it into rotation. Sponge #1 was still working fine, she just looked a little cruddy. And I liked how malleable she became, easily scrunched into piping bags and bottles. I didn't want to deal with the resistance of a new sponge, not yet.

Last night, a knife cut through her eye, and her scrubby backing pulled partly away from her spongy flesh. Enter sponge #2, fresh from the box. I love this side-by-side. I love to see the full evidence of her use. I like to know that I used her fully. She fulfilled my expectations and more. She had a purpose, and now that she can no longer fulfill that purpose with ease, I retire her with honor.

It's different than with ideas, which I rarely feel are fully used, and stories, which feel shiny and perfect once I've fully wrung them out. But I also feel like it's still true about me: when I have a purpose, no matter how exhausting the job, I feel better. When I'm done, just put me in the trash.

Confirming I am not a witch

What do you see?

I recently read a silly little book about a family of witches. ("In the Shadow Garden" by Liz Parker, if cozy rom-fan is up your alley). Tea leaf reading features prominently. The characters concoct their own magical blends of herbs, then brew a cup and read its imagery. Ferns, birds, and flowers abound, all omens and portents and intensely meaningful. How fun! I wanted to try.

My first attempt was a disaster. I think I added too much tea, which never sank to the bottom, so I had to keep spitting loose leaves into the sink. Deeply unpleasant. And when I upended the cup with what I thought was just a spare tablespoon of liquid over my saucer, it took all the leaves away with it, leaving me with just an empty cup. A waste of perfectly good tea, through and through.

My second attempt is the picture above. Just a pinch of leaves, which all unfurled properly and sank to the bottom of the cup as intended. Just a sip of tea left in the cup, which allowed the dregs to remain glued to my cup's interior. And... what the heck do I do now?

Every guide I read told me to read the imagery intuitively. I think my intuition's broken, because I just see leaves. Sadly, the teacup just confirmed what I've suspected since I turned 11 and no owl brought me a letter: I am not a witch.

How do I know something's good?

Thanks, Reddit!

Confession time: I love Reddit. I get all sorts of useful tidbits there. Instagram, too. It's rarely from where I think it will come -- I follow so many writing assistance pages, artists and poets, quote accounts, and ultimately find them cringe/unhelpful in the light of day. Usually, my inspiration comes from screenshots of funny tweets or tumblr posts, those profound little nuggets of human oddness.

The above screenshot is an outlier. Someone started a thread titled "What's a tell-tale sign that someone is a genuinely good writer?" on r/writers. I came across it and, intrigued, dove in. The above comments really spoke to me. It made me say Yes! Yes! Yes!

I wrote last week about how Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels took my messy thoughts and wrote them better, clarifying my internal dialogue. This comment has essentially done the same. Great writing feels like it was written for you, or about you, through the specifics. Donna Tartt, Jonathan Franzen, and Murakami come to mind as well. Reading their books feels like chipping away at some great, human truth.

In response, I've done some deeper thinking about what I actually want to say in my writing. I hate feeling like I'm bludgeoning my reader over the head with a universal truth, and often shy away from summary statements. Remnants of my "show don't tell" education, I suppose. I've been running a little experiment with myself, where I write something I like, then try to rewrite it and get closer to the heart of what I mean.

Compare: "Mary's tears fall. Around her, traffic moves." Fin.

To: "Mary cries on the sidewalk, but no one stops. They've got places to be. They've got things to cry about, too." Fin.

Same place, same person, same concept thing I'm mulling over. Which is better? Which reaches out the hand? I still don't know. I tend to write more like the first - I enjoy how open-ended it is. But the second one evokes the mood more effectively. Perhaps I'll experiment with being a little bolder and more, well, authorial.


Thanks for sticking with me, reader! I hope you're ok with the direction I'm taking in this series. Please let me know in the comments. And truly, if any of you are better witches than I, let me know what the heck my teacup is trying to tell me. I asked it what I should do with my writing, if that matters.


About the Creator

Proud ViM Productions

Alone, we are letters floating in the wind. Combined, we are an Opus. We hold community in our core, "We all rise when we lift each other up"

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Queer Vocal Voices

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (3)

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  • ROCK 29 days ago

    Intriguing to read about your likes, interests, influences and spice! I really need to catch some more of your writing.

  • Jay Kantor29 days ago

    Dear Suze~Q - As a 'Yalie' if you can create humor with a 'Scraggly' Garden and Dirty Sponges/with 'Knife' Wounds as a featured topic article in today's tumultuous society, I'm with you.

  • In that cup of tea leaves, I see a person, carrying a bag on their back and cloud above their heads. I think you'll be travelling soon, lol

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