The early novels of Dickens were serialized magazine stories that required considerable diligence, since he had to meet a monthly deadline punctually with fresh new material that advanced the plot of the ongoing tale. Sometimes he was still finishing one when he’d already started the next. Perhaps the youthful theatrical productions he dreamed up during his troubled childhood or the hectic pace of his first professional writing as an untainted and youthful political journalist had something to do with it. He could and did meet those deadlines and the resulting novels became almost instant classics. And he was by no means the only nineteenth century author who did it. Thackeray liked to knock off about four or five hundred words each day right after breakfast as a rule, just for the hell of it. Those two and others seemed to literally pump out prose on demand and it shows in the volume of work they published. They weren’t alone either; many others had the same ability. Across the channel Balzac, Hugo and Zola mass-produced literary works that have stood the test of time as well. I can’t match their output or even come close, but many famous authors did. They did it in ink, on paper and usually in one draft with very few corrections (because paper was expensive for budding novelists) in a time before typewriters, let alone personal computers, word processors or spellcheckers. That’s real inspiration.
At times I was stymied about how to progress The Dive when I was writing it so I laid it aside sometimes for weeks until something came to me. Call it writer’s block. Now I still worry about finding a topic for the next monthly blog as its usual time approaches. Of course there’s always some clown in politics to lampoon, but it gets tiresome writing about these crooked or lying politicians and their onstage antics. When I do get inspired, the idea seems to come from right out of the blue and almost seems like some divine guide is supplying the words. They come quickly and easily and a blog like this can be finished in very little time.
It is generally agreed that the notion of there being ‘Muses’ - three or nine - depending on which source one believes, goes back to Hesiod, the ancient Greek poet from the seventh century B.C. Homer, Virgil, Catallus, Ovid, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton all invoked one Muse or another in their works, so it’s no wonder that the idea of them persists to this day, especially by those with writer’s block – and all the more when it passes suddenly.