TRUE Writer’s Block: What to Do Now, After Your Muse Has Really Left (Six Months and Counting)

Folded Dreams, a follow-up novel to my venture into the world of self-publishing, managed to get to about 45% edit-worthy completion. I wasn’t completely satisfied with my work at that point, but I was proud to have at least made it that far! And then, as often happens of course, I hit an annoying bout of writer’s block – so I pouted for a few days, then decided I’d really show my Muse how childish an old fossil can get, and “cut off my nose just to spite my own face”…

Thanks to someecards.com!

Translation:  I  did what I believe a serious writer should never do for more than a few days at a time – I took a stupid vacation from writing. A couple of weeks should do it, I thought to myself. Just two weeks.

That was about the end of November or first of December, 2016.

As fate would have it (or “Never Disrespect Your Muse”), on the 8th of December I had a pretty serious stroke. Not a “major stroke”, mind (the kind that leaves one totally blind and unable to control one’s bodily functions), but bad enough to have to start from scratch to re-develop the ability to walk and use the muscles on the whole right side of my body to cough and spit toothpaste into a sink, and the dexterity I needed to dress and to even simply keyboard.

Writer’s block just became very real and much more complicated than ever, indeed.

It was necessary for me to leave my home and move in with one of my children; but I was determined to be ready when my muse again visited me, so I had my computer and flash drive book files brought over here to my son’s house.

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up with the urge to write. I thought about perhaps starting that book on stroke recovery which my therapists at Brooks Hospital had suggested. But, no – I wanted to get crackin’ on my novel again. After all, it’s nearly a year over-due for publish.

I plugged my flash drive into my lap top and began reading the existing chapters to the novel, “Folded Dreams”, you know, to refresh my memory as to where I was heading with the story. I really enjoyed re-reading what I’d written so far, mostly because I didn’t “recognize” it…

In fact, I had forgotten nearly the entire thing. Gone. Just. Like. That.

Pfffft.

Since that day, I’ve pondered the story, pounded my brain and perused all of my files on story-line notes and research to find anything I recognize. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. the only ‘discovery’ I’ve made is the continued enjoyment of reading a story which, each time I open it, seems like the first time reading someone else’s work. You see, I only vaguely remember having read it at all, no matter how many times I may have done so…that’s how Swiss-cheesey my brain is.

I don’t know how long this phase of recovery will last. I would like to believe it is only temporary, even if ‘temporary’ lasts for a long time yet. All I know is that THIS is true writer’s block, the likes of which can discourage me to the point of throwing in the towel…for good and ever.

But I won’t, even if I have to change the plot to include the protagonist having a stroke and losing herself completely.

Take THAT, Writer’s Block!!

Of Leaves and Autumns

This particular piece by Zahra Ammar rather speaks to one of the premises of Folded Dreams, I think…)

Ramblings of a Wanderer

By ZA

A beauty in dying

Drying up,dehydrating and withering

We leave and lie in our flaming graves

We rustle, moans in the breeze

The summer passed too soon

Now we lay on the ground which we watched from above

We had giggled and swayed in the giddy sunlight

We had looked down at the ground pitifully

Not realising, we would be together soon

Now slowly losing identity

Breaking off bit by bit

Chipped and combined in brown

A part once, a part no more.

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Dream of Oaxaca

(Since I’m slowing on the writing, I’ll be sharing…)

rogermoorepoetdotcom

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Dream of Oaxaca

I can bring you a Bird of Paradise, but I cannot bring you the sounds and smells of Oaxaca. The pungent odour of the first drops of rain falling into dry dust, the tang of waxen candles burning in the cathedral’s dark, the high notes sung at the altar by the old woman, dressed in black, who sings each day, on her knees, before the golden images in Santo Domingo: these sounds and smells defy any words I can pen. Nor can I place on the page the bustle of the abastos, the bickering of rooftop goats, the barking and growling of the dogs who patrol the azoteas at head-height and snap at your ears.  Other things escape me: the salty taste of sweat, the heat and heaviness of the midday sun as its hammer falls vertical from the sky, the sandpaper touch of hand-hewn stone…

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“1920 London” – horror movie for Hallowe’en

I may have watched it on Netflix, but I'm definitely buying it. Amazon has it - click!

I may have watched it on Netflix, but I’m definitely buying it. Amazon has it – click!

I was checking out the “Suggested for You” listing on Netflix this morning and took a chance on a movie I’d never heard of before: 1920 London”. I figured, horror movie – gettin’ close to Hallowe’en – haven’t bought a new dvd in ages – – -what the heck. I clicked ‘Play’ and discovered it was in Hindi, with sub-titles. No problem. I read very fast indeed.

Seriously – the sub-titles were no problem at all.

I’m not sure how this movie gained the title of “1920 London“, except that this is supposed to be the time period and place in which the story mainly takes place. Be that as it may, it was, in my opinion, a good story that made for an entertaining couple of hours of horror film!

The tale revolves around Shivangi, a princess of the Rajasthan royal house, her husband and the backstory of star crossed lovers. The story opens with her panicked return to the home of her father, the King, to find help for her newly wedded husband, Prince Veer, who has apparently been possessed through the efforts of a dark witch, whom she thinks she can name. Her brothers are enraged and rush to kill the evil woman, but the King forestalls them, persuading them to first seek the assistance of a Baba, or exorcist, who is well versed in these matters.

The family travels to the camp of this Baba, who is able to discern the dark spirit, but who also discovers that the demon witch who has taken over Veer’s body is too strong for him to control. There is only one who will be able rid Veer of this very powerful entity, he says, and refers the King to the most powerful spiritual master in the land, Mewar Baba, also known as Jai Singh Gujjar. The first twist in this tale is that, many years before, Jai and Shivangi were star-crossed lovers – she, from a royal house and he, a penniless shepherd – who were ripped apart when Jai beat Shivangi’s step-uncle who had tried to molest her. He was arrested, convicted and jailed for five years…due to false testimony presented by Shivangi herself!

We are given a bit of back-story for Jai’s skill as a ‘master Baba’ via a fairly violent segment wherein he performs an exorcism on a young girl. The scenes are not gory (in fact, there is no real gore in the entire film) but fit the widely accepted notion of what an exorcism entails. It was interesting to me, a Westerner, to note that in this film, holy water comes from the Ganges River and that a length of – maybe – prayer beads??? are used as opposed to our use of the Christian crucifix. Regardless of the trappings, exorcisms seem to be much the same in every culture.

Back to the drama of enlisting the aid of the Master Baba! Needless to say, Shivangi hesitates to ask for Jai’s help, but for the love of her husband, she swallows her pride and goes in search of him. He refuses her plea at first (and here is where we get the flashback of their love story and her betrayal – which brought to me on a bout of tears), but finally relents and agrees to aid her.

Shivangi tells him that they believe the dark magic being used against her husband is traceable to Veer’s step-mother who was anxious to displace Veer as heir, with her own son. There follows all of the great “possession” scenes that you see from movies all over the globe: the insidious mists, the shadowy figure that suddenly appears right behind you!, the dark image in the mirror, the bone breaking contortions, invisible spirits brutally throwing, dragging and otherwise inflicting damage to the possessed, and the eerie looking, backwards crab crawl (think: “The Exorcist”, when Magan comes downstairs :O ) – all the tried and true good stuff – with a few new ideas thrown in, at least in my exposure to horror films.

(The blurb and information for 1920 London)

(The blurb and information for 1920 London)

The second twist occurs with the discovery of who the real perpetrator of this possession is – but I will leave it to the viewer to find this out for him/herself! Suffice it to say that eventually the spirit of the witch is contained and her requirement for a soul to consume is satisfied, Veer is restored to health, both Shivangi and Jai earn redemption and regardless of the history between them and his station in life, Jai is honoured by Prince Veer. I want to say that everyone lives happily ever after, but the bittersweet ending just made me cry 😦 I suppose that was the goal, yes?

The special effects around the possession, incidentally, are just scary enough to make you jump, raise your eyebrows and elicit a startled gasp throughout. I found the story to have just the right amount of complexity, and Jai, at least, to have great depth. I would have liked to see more details about Shivangi’s life – perhaps her childhood and how she was raised, for the non-Indian audience to be reminded of the intolerance between the levels in social status. We old fossils learned this a half century ago in school, but I’m not entirely sure that the young, modern, Western adults and children are aware of it.

There were two real issues I had: 1) the special effects – that screeching laughter that came from the spirit/demon/witch just has to go, and 2) the doctor who was assessing Veer, inserted a bit of comedic relief into an otherwise serious film; in short, his portrayal was just too laughable to be borne – “muscle spasms” indeed.

An unusual aspect of “1920 London”, and again I speak as one who is used to a more westernized style of movie, was the inclusion of an actual video-type of love song, wherein the two characters, Jai and Shivangi, are actually singing to one another. I thought it was a lovely addition, for the song itself was beautiful. There were two or three full-length romantic pieces in the movie, in fact, and all of them were quite touching and beautiful. I have read “off-Amazon” reviews which ridicule this as ‘over-explored’ in “Bollywood” movies; I personally enjoyed it and, in fact, replayed the songs several times after watching the movie and then looked them up on YouTube, saving them to one of my lists to listen to later.

(If you’re interested, you can look up the videos on YouTube by the ‘title + 1920 London’,

  • Rootha Kyun 
  • Aafreen – and
  • Aaj Ro Len De  (Jaaniya)

Just a further note here, not only as a newcomer to films from this culture, but also as an old lady with memories and wistfulness of her own – the three major actors in “1920 London” were absolutely beautiful. Both Sharman Joshi (Jai) – with his intensity and bearing – and Vishal Karwal (Prince Veer) – who has the same kind of deep dimples as Latino actor, Mario Lopez! – perfectly portrayed their characters, from physical carriage to facial expressions – not to mention that they are both gorgeous ‘specimens’ of men! As for Meera Chopra (Shivangi), she is absolutely stunning! A more striking trio I have seldom seen.

The bottom line is this: if you are a non-Hindi speaker and do not mind splitting your attention between action and sub-titles, I would recommend giving this movie a go, especially for Hallowe’en horror fare. As for myself, having never watched a Hindi language/”Bollywood” movie before, I have nothing with which to compare 1920 London.

All I know is that I enjoyed it. Immensely.

“The Queen Mom”

The last costume I'll ever wear: "The Queen Mom" (not the Queen Mum!) :D

The last costume I’ll ever wear: “The Queen Mom” (not the Queen Mum!) 😀

Yes, you read it right; it’s “The Queen Mom“, not to be confused with “The Queen Mum“!

For decades I dressed up as a vampire for Hallowe’en, mostly because during those years I was quite exotic looking and the make-up suited me.

…and the form-fitting, black, slinky dress that was cut “down to there”,

with the revealing leg slit that was “cut up to here”!!

I’m not conceited, but I have always had eyes to see (ha! ‘vampire sees self in looking glass’!!)

and ears to hear what people said as I passed.

I knew I looked good, though I knew looks don’t last…but when I walked into a room, every eye turned, regardless of how I was dressed.

Ahh, but I’m old now. My looks have faded, gravity has been picking on me for years,

and my glossy, dark brown tresses with their auburn highlights are now silver and thin

…and at some point I acquired two extra chins.

But that’s alright. I have been told that my eyes still sparkle when I laugh and that my lap and hugs are more comfortable now than they ever were. Besides, my grandkids get a grand laugh when I jiggle my chins for them 😀

So anyway – there I was one day, and my age kicked me in my non-existent teeth.

“You’re OLD!” it informed me.

No more sexy vampire dresses that show your crépey décolletage and orange peel thighs,

nor exotic eye make-up that sinks into the folds of your eyes.

And no more vampire fangs to pop in your mouth

when there’s nothing to hook them to…your body’s gone south!

Time for a change that suits your age…

like a mouldy old ghost

or some ancient sage!”

Well, I may be older than dirt, I replied, but surely that doesn’t mean that I’ve died!

Why should I be forced to dress like a toad, when Walmart sells costumes right down the road?

So I hopped on my scooter and I went for a ride, thinking, “I could easily dress up as Dracula’s bride!

But when I arrived there was nothing my size that wouldn’t stretch uncomfortably over my fat…thighs.

But wait! What’s this in the back, on the floor, all covered in dustballs, dusty, forlorn?

I looked very closely and then gasped with delight, for the tag said XXXL – it would fit me just right!

A velvety costume with cheap nylon ties…loose enough to cover my six tummies and…thighs!

A dowager dutchess, I’ll be this Hallowe’en, as long as I can get this thing to come clean.

As I headed to the cashier up front, I passed through the craft department and stopped with a bump

up against the shelf of sculpture wire spools.

My eyes glazed over as I gazed all around (at the crystal beads and metal leaves) and thought to myself, I could fashion a crown!

I collected my goodies and raced to the check out, hopped on my scooter with a grin and a shout!

What you see in my photo is what I have done

This Hallowe’en I’m going to be The Queen Mom!!

I HOPE EVERYONE ELSE IS READY FOR HALLOWE’EN!