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Dear Thursday: Getting Your Imagination All Fired Up

So one of the great joys of the mandatory one-month break that I give myself between my rough drafts and my rewrites is that I allow myself to only write for 20 minutes a day as opposed to the usual hour and a half. And that leaves some extra time for reading.

theknownworldRight now, I’m tackling the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner, The Known World by Edward P. Jones. It’s set in the antebellum South and examines a situation of black slaves owned by free black slaves. Really fascinating, but hard to read, b/c it’s too good. And my too good I mean that I can barely get through a page without my imagination firing with ideas and considerations for my own work. My imagination goes wild, then 5 minutes later, I find that I’m still on the same page, which I have to re-read in order to get back on the plot. This makes for extremely slow reading and it’s basically the same reason that I stopped picking up Faulkner novels after I left college and his work was no longer linked to my grades.

It’s often surprising what gets your imagination all fired up. I was telling a friend the other day that no matter how dead my imagination battery is,  gospel music never fails to jump start my creative battery — unless I’m writing about any thing that involves God or religion. Then it just plain doesn’t work. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m wondering the rest of you do to call down the muse. I also wonder if you have the same problem with the muse coming and messing with you while you’re trying to read. What books have unexpectedly “brought down your muse?” I want to know so that I can whip them out the next time I get a severe case of writer’s block.