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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday, 14 April '09: Musings on the Muse

The nice thing about a long weekend is the chance to read without interruption. With satisfaction, I completed a newly published novel (2009): The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee. Part love story, part thriller, the book is set in post-war Hong Kong with flashbacks to the main action which occurs following the fall of the British colony to the Japanese and the Occupation.

But a book review is not my intention. Charlotte Bronte, quoted by Lee, said, "The writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master, something that at times strangely wills and works for itself." And Lee writes about her own craft, saying that the book began as a short story (so did the popular 'Madonnas of Leningrad' which many bloggers have enjoyed). Her own childhood and life in Hong Kong provided the authenticity of the detailed backdrop. But what interested me was that the novel evolved without an outline or a plot. Lee created two characters, then another two sprang to life. For five years she kept writing: allowing her characters to converse, interact and act. They dictated the story. Lee never knew how the book was going to end. Propelled by her characters she 'kept trying to get them out of sticky situations'. The result is an intriguing book, with an exquisitely delicate touch and an unexpected ending.

There are several novelists (and some emerging while I talk) among the bloggers I know. How does the Muse lead you? I would love to know!


TheWritersPorch said...

I have never been able to explain it even to myself Eleanor. It is almost "ghostly".In my case it is as though this unseen figure or figures stand behind me watching me type,
I can hear their voice and they take control of my fingers and type what they want. I then read back amazed!

Smilingsal said...

I must allow the writers to answer your question.

It's funny, as much as I read, I did not spend much time reading this Easter weekend!

dulcy said...

What a beautiful blog to stumble upon! I did not spend as much time reading over the long Easter holiday as I could have. My passion is rug hooking and have been designing and planning a new piece for a friend. I do LOVE to read, and am currently reading "Pilgram of Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard. I squeeze in bits here and there. I also garden and try to get in a daily yoga practice (I teach 4th grade). Thanks for such wonderful posts! I'll be back!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I just write about what happens in everyday life here at Necky Knoll House!!

The picture of wax crayons takes me back, Eleanor! I used to love doing pictures where you put rainbow layers of colour down, then black crayon on top, and then scratch through in a design to reveal rainbow colours - such fun!

MARIA said...

Thank you Eleanor for beautiful post!
"The Piano Teacher" sounds very interesting.
I wonder if I can find this novel in Poland.

Actually I try to write e-book (in Polish).

My best wishes to you!

Poetikat said...

I'm reading a novel at the moment and coincidentally, the main character just described writing like driving with only the view in your headlights to guide you, but somehow you know you'll reach your destination. I don't know if I'll ever write a book, Eleanor - poetry is challenging enough!


TheWritersPorch said...

Eleanor....please come by The Porch and pick up your World Renown Zombie Chicken Award!


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That sounds like a great book too Eleanor. I spent a lazy weekend doing nothing but sleep, eat and catch up on things on the computer. I never go away, everything is much too full and the roads are murder.

Have a great trip and let me know when you are back then we can get together. :)

Vicki Lane said...

The Piano Teacher sounds fascinating! And that's the way I'd like to write but alas, deadlines and the pressure to turn out a book a year don't allow such a leisurely exploration. Plus my contract requires a synopsis before I begin.

My characters do, however, take on lives of their own and often go down roads I'd not anticipated. Sometimes I feel as if I'm watching a scene in my head and struggling to type fast enough to record it. Those are the moments when the Muse is fully present.

Margaret Pangert said...

I am thrilled to come across your blog! challenging, artistic, the beautiful. You cited a novel callled The Piano Teacher? Did you see the movie with Isabelle Huppert (La Pianiste), emotionally disturbed player of Schubert? As to writing, I just read a fascinating book that came from a blog, "The Daily Coyote." Well, now to delve into more of your blog... thanks, Margaret

Barbara Martin said...

Sometimes I begin a section following my brief phrase of introduction, it catches fire and I flow the blaze of surging ideas that fall like dominoes.

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