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Inside Look

Splinter Days

By Nancy Jensen, Associate Professor, Bluegrass Writers Studio

Some days writing is like having a splinter. You know it's there--a scene, say. You can feel it throbbing, just under the surface. And you can almost see it, maybe just one end poking up, but still it's but enough to make you think, "No problem. I'll have this out in a snap." 

And so you get the tweezers and start prodding, pinching. Soon you're scraping. Then you're digging. But nothing. 

You try to ignore it, persuading yourself that it will simply work its way out naturally, but that's no good because you can't do anything else until you get the thing out. It takes up your whole mind.

Heeding the Muse, Part VI - The Mobius Strip of Writing

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio

We’ve arrived at the final blog in my series, “Heeding the Muse”.  What follows is both a statement and a warning, from me to you, and, before that, from one of the great authors of our time.  If you have not ever done so, I urge you to do an internet search for Stephen King’s short story, “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet”.  This, then, is my interpretation of said tale.

Heeding the Muse, Part V - Dictation and Revision

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio

            In this series on the possible sources of inspiration for our writing, we have previously discussed the idea of Push Inspiration, or making ourselves available to some external source for our inspirational needs.  Today, I would like for us to assume that we have gained some measure of success in that process.  We've sat down at our writing desk, meditation spot, or other reliable venue, and have made ourselves available to receive a message from some external source of inspiration.  We have typed it across a computer screen or scrawled our chicken scratches against a tremulous pad of paper.

            But what do we do next? 

Heeding the Muse, Part IV - Resistance

photo: Nicolas Nova

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio

      “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

            In this series I have spoken only of our attempt to find inspiration, and the places that inspiration can be found. I have noted that we can find that inspiration from without (push inspiration) and within (pull inspiration). I have encouraged you to heed the muse by showing up, by tuning in, and by keeping your eyes open for the subtle cues, the messages, whispered to you by the rolling waves of the Universe within your life.

            I have not yet spoken of the enemy—let us not be unaware that there is one.

Heeding the Muse, Part III - Listening

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio
















What are you looking here for? I said listen.


Heeding the Muse, Part II - Synchronicity

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio


Where does inspiration come from?

             Last week we discussed the difference between Pull and Push Inspiration, how the former is a writer’s ability to draw from their beliefs and passions to solidify a message that they go into the poem or story intending to speak to their readers.  Push inspiration, on the other hand, was when something outside of and beyond the experience of the writer forces its way into their creative process, begging, screaming to be spoken. 

            Today, I want to share one method of identifying the rolling wave of Push Inspiration.  It is probably the most often occurring and tangible way I experience the Push in my own writing.  It can be summed up in one beautiful and straight forward word:

Heeding the Muse, Part I - Classification

Dr. Dolittle's Pushmi-Pullyu

By Joseph Nichols, Bluegrass Writers Studio

            Every time I go to a professional writer’s question-and-answer session at the local bookstore, the same question is raised: Where do you get your inspiration? The writer always seems annoyed; I’m sure they get asked that so many times they want to vomit. Accordingly, they always give the same, simple answer: Observation and Work.

            Neither of these are satisfying answers, or at least they aren’t for me.

            So, as writers, where can we look to gain our ideas, beyond just keeping our eyes open to the world around us and establishing the habit of sitting down to write daily?

How to Lose Focus in Ten Days

At Camp Hope, NOLA, I looked up. This is what I saw on the ceiling tiles above.

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     When you’re looking into MFA’s, all of the talk is about “the program”: Should I attend a residency program or a low-residency program? Which program should I apply to if I write crime novels? Once in the program, we submerge ourselves in our courses and workshops, and finally narrow our attention to own thesis. We can easily forget to look up.

Every Day I Write the Book

By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio

In the Footsteps of Lovecraft

By Earl P. Dean, Bluegrass Writers Studio

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