Stalking the Wild Muse: Writer Rituals & Habits

MusemedA series exploring the props, habits, and drugs that fuel the writer’s productivity. Past, present and future! Look for BVC writers, plus other authors we know and love.

Phyllis Irene Radford

As some of you know, I am a dancer.  I started ballet and tap when I was 7 and never totally gave up the notion that I need to express myself in dance.  I need to move through dance.  Not until I became a full time writer did I understand that dancing didn’t just get my blood moving through my body, it also stirred up my brain.  The synthesis of music and body, lyrics and understanding have opened new doors in me.  Especially my beloved lizard brain that stores ideas and solutions to creative problems, and things I’d forgotten.  Not only am I working toward a healthier body, but a more active brain.  On days I do not dance I walk or ride the exercycle.  Not the same.  I need the stylized movement of dance to challenge me in order to activate the lizard brain.  I need the expression of my body in a perfectly curved arm, an especially loud stomp, the twist of hips above and beyond normal.  I can come out of an hour and a half of country line dancing physically tired and thinking only of lunch.  But somewhere in the 2 and half mile drive home the Lizard Brain starts leaking.  I know the first line I must type in the next scene, I know why Character X is acting out, and why Character Y can’t cope.  I might find a detail in a swelling ankle or the sweat dripping down my spine that answers more questions.  I am awake and alive as only a dancer can be awake and alive after flowing from one dance to another.

I miss ballet.  That requires a stretch of mind and body 16X beyond line dancing.  But I can dream.  And dreams are the stuff that good stories come from.

atlanta ballet

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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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