Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This is the theme music and opening credits to the 1990 TV show Twin Peaks. Here is the version titled, Falling, with lyrics sung by Julee Cruise.

Falling into a storyworld for a writer can be a lot like falling in love. That has been my experience in the past and it is happening again. I want to spend every waking and sleeping moment thinking about the object of my affections. Which makes it all the more frustrating when it seems to be trying to shut me out. At least this time it took me only a day or two to remember the secret of almost infallible access to that mystical-magical place where the story lives.


I have mentioned it before here on several occasions and not too long ago gave credit to the college prof who introduced me to this technique for wooing the muse. That was Lawson Inada back in the late eighties when I was attending Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, Oregon. Inada is currently Oregon's Poet Laureate. I was going to include the links to the posts here but I'm too anxious to get back to work to go hunting for it. If you are interested in learning more about Inada you can find those posts where I link to info about him and talk about his significant influence on me by following the Poetry Train label and scanning for his name. Or do a Google search of Joystory for Lawson Inada. I guess if I'm going to keep mentioning him, I should gather the relevant links in a quickly accessible place and create a label for him here.

And I wouldn't be surprised if I find more occasions to mention him as the 70 Days of Sweat procedes. Because the storyworld I am working on was born in a story I wrote for his creative writing class. That is, Of Cats and Claws and Curiosities, the story which I posted the first of four parts in Friday Snippets last Friday.

It was in his poetry class, that he introduced us to the effect of using music to create a mood and to bypass the critic which is often the cause of writer's block. I can't remember when I translated the concept from poetry writing to story writing but it turned out to be one of the most powerful tools. It is like casting a magic spell.

Now I need to introduce another major influence on my FOS storyworld and explain the inclusion of the video at the top of this post. The short story I was writing for Inada's class in 1986 was not completed. It was probably still under 3000 words when it got set aside when the next semester's work load took over. It wasn't until 1990-92 that I returned to working on it. In the months preceding that, I had been one of the many who went completely gaga over David Lynch's Twin Peaks. I was disgusted and angry when they canceled the show. I had been nearly as enthralled by the music of composer, Angelo Badalamenti, featured on the show as by the story and its world of eccentric characters with sometimes dark agendas hidden beneath placid masks.

A few months after Twin Peaks was cancelled I started working on my 'Dead Cat' story again, and began to see beneath the surface of my three schoolmarmish characters into a veritable cauldron of conflicting emotions and motivations. It was also around this time that we bought our first CD player and one of the CDs my husband bought for me was the soundtrack to Twin Peaks. As I often do when I am obsessed by something, I listened to that soundtrack on endless repeat for hours and hours. I did not set out to fix the association between that music and this storyworld but that is what happened.

I did not realize this had happened until many months after I had finished Of Cats, after I had wandered away from the storyworld for some time and then was struggling to find my way back to it. I happened to be listening to the Twin Peaks soundtrack while I was thinking about my characters and the plot for the story which would become Making Rad Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes, and suddenly it all came alive for me again. The mood, the setting, the themes, the characters that already existed in scenes and those I had contemplated including, their relationships and motivations and the plot elements, including those that never made it into my notes. After that I seldom worked on what had by then become my Fruits of the Spirit storyworld without the accompaniment of that sound track.

I don't know why it took me a whole week to remember that. But now that I have and have implemented the musical spell, I'm expecting things to break loose any moment. Already, after less than a day of immersion in the music, memories of story elements that existed only in the hundreds of pages of notes and rough drafts that were lost when we abandoned our storage unit in the Silicon Valley in 2001, have begun to swarm.

I'm not going to concern myself with word count for now. Because of the way I work, roaming about from file to file it is hard to keep track of it. I can only give a guesstimate and at the moment it isn't very impressive, still under 5000 after a week. But my progress in the past week cannot be measured by word count or any other countable thing. The hardest thing for me has always been to get engaged and stay engaged in the story. So my two major accomplishments this week have been to immerse myself in the storyworld and to remember and start to apply the techniques that I've learned work to keep me there or return me to it after a hiatus.

3 tell me a story:

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