• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



A Kiss from the Muse—how to get it! Part III

The Enchanted Shore by Rowland Wheelwright

The Enchanted Shore by Rowland Wheelwright

Still looking for that kiss from the muse? Here are some of my favourite ways to awaken the inner spirit of creativity.

Ritual Routine means showing up to write. When we do so, we send a message to the Muse saying, I’m here. I’m ready. I’m listening. Do you have rituals around your writing? Mine are green tea, Spanish guitar and a date with my computer every morning, 7 am sharp. Novelist Sean Stewart reinforces the point. “Do whatever it takes. If it means getting up at four in the morning, get up at four in the morning.”

Most authors agree that ritualizing the practice of writing keeps creative juices flowing. Jonathan Kellerman, who spends 2-6 months planning his novels before he starts writing says, I treat writing as a job. I go to work five days a week. I don’t sit around drinking espresso, waiting for inspiration.

Dreams come from the wellspring of imagination. Listen to them! Image is the language of the unconscious and keeping a dream journal can be a way to communicate with the deeper layers of the mind, opening up the realm of the Muse.

Law of Attraction says that what we think about comes about. If you are thinking like the fisherman on shore after the mermaid has fled, longing desperately for her return, you are shouting out to the universe ‘blank page’ and that is what you attract! When the Muse is gone, imagine her there with thoughts of allowing, joy, vitality, creative abundance and gratitude. The trick is, if she’s there, enjoy her presence; if she’s not there, enjoy her presence! Once you start thinking your Muse is with you, she will be.

Self-talk is closely related to the above and has a powerful effect on the Muse. Are you saying I’m blocked? I’m stuck? When friends ring do you tell them the well is dry? What you say to yourself and others is what you are reinforcing. To bring up the muse, think more along the lines of I’m full of ideas today, thank you!

Clear a Space for the Muse to Dance. To have anything in your life, you need to ‘make room for it’. One of the most crucial ingredients in honoring the Muse is clearing a space for her. Stephen King talks about this in his article on the The Writing Life.

Some writers in the throes of writer’s block think their muses have died, but I don’t think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it.

Allow her presence by eliminating anything that might be misconstrued as poison or disrespect of her mystery. Welcome your creative spirit in. As Traci Harding says, The Muse is everywhere and can be encountered in the most unexpected places. How do you call up your Muse? I’d like to hear your favorite technique. Comments welcome.

See Part I: A Kiss from the  Muse

See Part II: A Kiss from the Muse: How to get it!

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette, which was published in January this year. She runs Falcon Astrology as well as a website for the Quantum Enchantment series.

A Kiss from the Muse—how to get it! Part II

The Siren by John William Waterhouse (1900)

The Siren by John William Waterhouse (1900), no doubt inspired by a muse ...

Want divine inspiration? A kiss from the muse? Here are some of my favourite ways to awaken the inner spirit of creativity.

Allowing comes first. My friend Jeannette Maw has this notion down to a fine art. She says creative desire is like a wild horse. It can not be approached with clenched fists and waving arms. The Muse responds to serenity and peace—an open palm. Before I begin each morning session, I sit in front of my monitor, open my hands and say, ‘Come hither. Dance with me.

Meditation stills the mind, allowing the normally active brain waves—beta 13-30 cycles per second—to drop down to alpha 7-13 cycles per second or even lower to theta 4-7 cycles per second. By achieving this state, a measurable increase in creativity and intelligence is reported. I practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day, every day and freelance writer Patricia Fry suggests a ‘walking meditation’. She says, I use ‘Meditation Walking’ to unlock the flow of new article ideas and to work through a problem with a story.

Non-Judgment is vital. It means easing up on critical self-assessment. The narrative doesn’t have to be perfect the moment it hits the page. Knowing this can help writers relax and let it flow. In first drafts, I treat myself like a child. I don’t say, Demons, Kim, what’s happened? You used to be able to write! I encourage saying, this is a good idea. Tell me more.

Anne Hines says first drafts are like really bad first dates and suspending judgment is the best way to get to the gold. She describes a classic Far Side cartoon where a wild haired writer hunches over his table, entirely surrounded by wadded up balls of rejected pages. On each one is written, Call me Bob, Call me Phil, Call me Arnold. He’s got a good story there and if he keeps going he’ll stumble upon Call me Ishmael!

Music is another way to call forth the creative flow. In mythology the Muses are closely associated with music and some writers find playing their favorite tunes in the background encourages creativity, relaxation and joy. (I’m listening to the soundtrack from Vicky Cristina Barcelona as I type.) Daniel Handler author of A Series of Unfortunate Events (under the pen name of Lemony Snicket), says: I’ve never had writer’s block for an extended period of time — I just have the occasional 24-hour bug. On those days I listen to *Top Ten,* an album by the Flying Lizards, in its glorious entirety, and then take a long brisk walk. In the 2003 Nancy Meyers film, Somethin’s Gotta Give—Diane Keaton’s character is a playwright who listens to French music for inspiration.

What do you find awakens the Muse? Comments welcome. Part III (coming soon) has more hints on getting the kiss from the Muse.

See Part I: A Kiss from the  Muse

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette, which was published in January this year. She runs Falcon Astrology as well as a website for the Quantum Enchantment series.

A Kiss from the Muse – Kim Falconer

Recent comments on What’s The Most Difficult Part of Being a Writer have highlighted the challenge of simply getting words down on the page. For many writers, it’s hardest part, but it wasn’t always so.

In ancient time, we had a lot more support. Forget that it was an oral tradition—no pages involved, blank or otherwise—the storytellers of the past didn’t have to struggle for content. All they had to do was show up with the right attitude and wait for the Muse. What is the ‘right attitude’? Their opening lines tell all.

Hesiod and the Muse

Hesiod and the Muse, by Gystabe Moreau, 1891

Muses of Pieria who give glory through son, says Hesiod at the start of Theogony, come hither . . . Homer does it too. Tell me, O Muse, of the man of many devices, who wandered full many ways after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy.
Tell me . . . Come hither . . . That’s the key. The Muse must be invited in!

The classical poets and bards did not create out of thin air. Neither did they plagiarise. They gave credit to their source, the Muse, acknowledging her sacred part in the process of imagination. It was a completely different relationship to creativity than we have now and Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love gives an engaging talk on this topic. We expect the ‘impossible’ from artists and geniuses, she says, sharing the notion that, instead of the rare person ‘being’ a genius, everyone has a muse that expresses ‘through’ them. What a wonderful idea.

A way to better understand the Muse is to look for her signature in myth and fairytale. I liken her to the mermaid—a tale made popular by Hans Christian Andersen. These stories always begin with a deep dark lake or sea—the collective unconscious—our source of creativity. The fisher dips a net into the depths and one day he, or she, catches the mermaid. Usually they fall in love. It’s an impossible arrangement, so the mermaid agrees to enter the fisher’s world, on one condition—a box can not be opened or a key must not be used or a question must not be asked. The fisher (consciousness) can bask in the creative flow as long as he respects the mystery.

While he does, life prospers. Children are born of the union—a sign of something creative coming from the experience. But, when curiosity overtakes and he questions her secrets, she vanishes, returning to the sea of the unconscious, children in tow. The fisher is left alone, sitting on the shore, staring into the depths, waiting, hoping she will return.

Creativity is an inside job, but within us is the spirit of the muse. Awakening her liberates the imagination and allows the words to flow. Part II & III (next week) offer ways to get that first kiss from the Muse, and many more. Has anyone a story to tell about their Muse? What do they look like? How do they inspire? I’d love to hear!

Kim Falconer has found her muse, having completed the edits on her second book, Arrows of Time, just recently. You can find her first book The Spell of Rosette in all good bookshops across Australia, and overseas readers can buy it online from Australian booksellers. Kim lives in Byron Bay, which seems like the perfect place to commune with your muse …