Back home again in Rhinebeckana

That’s Hoagie Carmichael singing in the background.

In the last 3 weeks or so I’ve been to the Omega Institute to teach Tarot, Goddard College to teach creative writing, and Readercon, a science fiction convention near Boston, where I sat on panels to discuss the work of Jorge Luis Borges and metafiction (fiction that plays with the idea of fiction, that allows the characters to talk to the readers and so on). Now I’m home and hoping to finish my book of fairy tales/ghost stories/mystical tales, Simon Wisdom.

On a recent post here I described the nearly universal experience of writers that something is moving through them when the writing is going well. The Greeks called this the Muse. For the last story in the collection, Master Matyas, the Muse has been flirting with me, showing up in all her dazzle, filling me with ideas, then dancing out of reach when I try to make the ideas work together.

Teased by the Muse. Part of the problem is that the story did not begin with a plot idea, or a what-if, or a character, but simply a name. I collect fountain pens. I use them for letters, and paying bills, and also for stories, every one of which is written by hand, one thousand words a day in large unlined journals.

One of my favorite vintage makers is Wahl, a company that fluorished in the first half of the 20th century but did not survive the onslaught of the ballpoint pen. Their pens are elegant, graceful, with amazing nibs. Some time ago, maybe a year, I bought a gold Wahl pen from an online dealer. The online description gave a glowing account of its quality, but then warned the buyer–there was a name engraved on it.

Now, you need to know that among serious collectors (not me–I’m what’s called an accumulator or a user) the more unused a pen the better. If they can prove the pen has never been taken from the box (let alone been violated by ink),

they can charge much more for it. A pen with a name on it–well, that’s a disaster. Which is nice for me, since not only are engraved pens cheaper but I find them more interesting. I like to buy them without asking what name is on them and then see what turns up. One–a smaller Wahl in a black and gold mosaic–showed up with the name Louise Pollock. It made me wonder if my Uncle Lou might have had a secret life!

When the gold Wahl arrived, the name on it was M. Matyas. I thought of a story about a magician named Master Matyas, and then, as I stared at the name and held the pen, the Muse whispered in my ear a kind of prophecy: “Master Matyas steals the soul of his brother.”

And that was the beginning.  The story has progressed since then, with a good opening, a good closing, and some really nice middle bits.  But the tying together–  Mama Muse is being coy about that part.

That’s it for now.  I’m glad to be back doing this, and hope to keep up with it better.  And respond to people’s very interesting comments (I’ll get the hang of this blog thing sooner or later).

Published in: on July 15, 2006 at 7:05 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve always loved vintage pens that were engraved, but even if they’re not – one of my favorite things is to imagine where the pen has been and what it’s written.

  2. Thanks, Melanie. It’s nice to have someone understand the allure of very old engraved pens. I’m surprised no one’s ever done a ghost love story about a woman who finds an antique pen with someone’s name on it and begins to experience being that woman when she writes with it.

  3. Welcome back, Rachel – and here’s to haunted pens seducing recalcitrant muses.

  4. Thanks, Jessamyn. I have to say that even if my pens are not haunted they certainly are seductive!

  5. Many moons ago you stayed with me at Skyhawk in Elbert County, Colorado. And I came to your lecture in the Village in NYC at some enchanted place. 😉 Remember me?

    The world spins and as I danced in my Wheel of Fortune year, we sold the farm and moved to Bellingham, Washington! What a diametrically opposed environment. I love the green here. The faeries dance and i am barefoot in the rain.

    So, tonight I am cruising Amazon looking for a book on Tarot Universal Dali (gifted to me my houseguest, a shaman from Israel–and all the cards with hebrew on them!) so I find you wrote a book to accompany this deck. You are SO prolific. However Amazon does not have any copies. Do you? Or do you have suggestions for my finding a copy of the book?

    Write, tell me how you are and what you are writing these days. I am doing the National Novel Writing Month for the third year in a row. Write a novel in a month. It usually makes me crazy but I like it that way! last year — under my pseudonym Deirdre H. Moon, I was published with Epona Maris and Roger Rural: “The Fondis Chronicles,” available via Amazon. 😉 I have a major re-write to do on a novel but am setting it aside to write madly this month. 😉

    Also, Michael, Karen (a friend in Colorado Springs, don’t think you met her when you came out) and I wrote a screenplay this year. They are working on getting it produced. That’s the hard work! 😉
    Let me know when you’re going to be in Seattle or Vancouver!


    Wishing you love in your heart,
    starlight in your soul,
    and miracles in your life!

    C.J. Prince
    Ravens’ Song
    P.O. Box 1895
    Bellingham, WA 98227

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