Mozart’s Brain, Too
What?? More Random Creative Writing Squibs??
…And More Odd Things To Consider??…
Broadsheet No. 2.3 – Musings…
This is a Shakespir edition 2016
Copyright May 2016
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[A broadsheet is, well… You already know, because I say it before every Mozart’s Brain Broadsheet. Go ahead… Nail it to a tree. Or to the cathedral doors in Worms, Germany, like Martin Luther did a couple hundred years ago. ‘Nuff said…]
History has the most amusing incidents, I think.
When an assassin acting on his orders killed the wrong man and was breathlessly confronted with this crime, Napoleon’s foreign minister Talleyrand once said, “Crime?!… It’s worse than a crime… It’s a blunder!…”
So what’s this got to do with this broadsheet?
Well, I only recently spotted I’d skipped over a half-written Broadsheet Number 2.3, about a week ago. Very clumsy of me, getting things disordered. Not a crime, but certainly lacking in grace…
Looking over what I had started upon, I found I was going to talk about something called ‘Genre.’ But I more closely appraised what I wrote, and decided it wasn’t going to be interesting enough for you folks. So I chose to go with a different theme.
But before I do, a brief word.
I went over another previous Mozart’s Brain, Too broadsheet. It’s Number 2.2, and it’s on Diligence.
I didn’t like it. So I rewrote a lot of it, and reposted it some time back.
See what you think. Fill in your own adjectives for it, if you want. Hopefully your keyboard won’t begin smoking with blue and sulphurous language. Maybe you’ll like it…
And now, notwithstanding management’s and the author’s best efforts, tonight’s program on Musings will go on exactly as advertised…
I just finished reading Winston Churchill’s towering history of World War I.
If you have never read anything by him, but if you appreciate a style of writing which is simply majestic in its sweep and language, you’ll enjoy this work. Not a beach read, though. It’s six enormously rich volumes. I’d say it’s the kind of work which you ease yourself into – beautiful, informative, educational, at many points tremendously inspiring and intensely moving. Take your time. Savor it.
I’m going to try to get into his History of World War II (six volumes), and then his History of the English Speaking Peoples (only five… Pity…). Probably take me a couple of years to work my way through them. Make no mistake – Winston Churchill was a Great Man. Came from a long and illustrious noble ducal family, the Marlboroughs, whose huge ancestral home was at their immense palatial estate of Blenheim, outside the city of Oxford. Nice digs…
Thinking about him makes me wonder… Where are the great statesmen of today – individuals of larger-than-life character and dominating presence, whose sharp and perceptive grasp of world events, and the brilliant personalities around their time which shaped history, gave them an enormous stature?…
Now, I must admit I’m only slightly behind Churchill’s generation. So I’d relate to these things more easily than someone, say, forty or fifty years younger than me. (Talk about carbon-dating myself!…) And the most wonderful thing about his writings is, they offer marvelous examples of Character, Competence and Wisdom to see and take inspiration from.
It grieves me when I confess I see pitifully few such paragons from today’s generations. Unless they’ve chosen to remain outside of public spaces and events, keeping their Lights of Genius hidden. Which, given today’s tawdry politics, is entirely likely…
Now, it’s a funny thing about politicians – all politicians, of any time period. They’re like money.
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Bad money drives out good.” In olden days before paper currency, governments relied on the control of minted coin to establish the basis for a society’s means of exchange.
Time after time, a government would want more money than it could raise from the people without a rebellion. So it would resort to debasing its currency – for example, reducing the amount of precious metal (usually gold or silver), or making them slightly smaller or thinner – to make them cheaper to produce, all the while behaving as if nothing had changed regarding their value.
But of course, they didn’t tell the populace about it…
Ever wonder why you’ve seen historical images of a person biting into a coin? It was one way to determine if it was ‘true’ or debased.
Now, the populace would always quickly find out what their rulers were doing, especially those whose trades involved using weights and measures. In reaction, the people would begin to hang onto and hide away the ‘good’ currency, and use the bad (debased) money for all their transactions, essentially taking the good currency out of circulation altogether. The bad currency was not so well accepted, and more of it was needed to buy stuff. This caused inflation, distrust and an economic slowdown.
Our government, and many others, print new money and put it into circulation to buy the stuff they want. This cheapens the money, making it appear that prices of things go up, when in fact it just needs more of the cheapened currency to buy things.
Instead of hoarding gold coins and using the lead-based ones (neither of which is used today in major economies), today’s people move to other paper currencies of soundly-managed economies whenever a government begins to make its money worth less by printing more of it without restraint…
Now, what’s all this got to do with politicians, you may ask?…
The very same principle is true in politics. Here’s how it works.
As more and more political wannabes get into the competition, the overall quality of their characters declines because of their need to pander to voters – tell them they can have anything they want from the public treasury. Those with lower, more base and shameless character become more desperate to advance, and emboldened to do more outrageous things to rise. They promise more and more outrageous things, and drive those competitors – of better character and values and self-restraint – out of the field of competition, leaving the spoils to the most worthless candidates. And these of poor character are enabled by hangers-on who see a way to survive and prosper by throwing in their lot with these unworthy people.
Eventually, the field becomes dominated by those with no scruples, no honor, and no worthiness to be public leaders, but they wind up installed in office. You get what you pay for. And those of the electorate who are unable to see beyond their own noses, are the ones who will suffer most…
Wow. Did I just get off on a rant? How undisciplined…
Now, ‘Musings’ is the name of this Broadsheet.
The word is derived from Muse, a Greek character representing inspiration for artists and writers, and almost anyone of genius, in the days when they carried their creations around in their heads.
That’s what we writers all do – muse on script and story ideas, looking for that lightning flash of an idea that grips us so tightly we can’t get away from it until we’ve wrung out of it all the plotline and theme inspiration we can. And the source of these musings is food for our brains.
How do I feed my brain to get new ideas?…
Probably the same way all of you do – I read a of stuff (carefully vetting their sources, of course!), and I let my subconscious do all the work, until at some unexpected moment, I get a brainwave about a story that might have been percolating for some time, but without the details I need.
From there, it’s back and forth from the writing table to doing unrelated things and diverting my thoughts away from the story. Stuff, and more stuff, comes. Believe me, it really does. As I’m sure it comes to you.
Now, I don’t feed my brain just anything. It isn’t a gourmand, you know…
I tend to get into works about history, often very ancient history.
So, for instance, I’m moving through a reference work – sounds boring but it’s really well-written and a delight to read – about ancient Babylon and Mesopotamia of 6,000 years ago, as a possible setting for a historical romance. I’ve also got several more ideas relating back to 6th and 7th Century Byzantium (the setting for another historical romance) from all the reading I’ve done about that era.
I have an equal number of ideas which spring from another pure fantasy setting I created out of ‘whole cloth’. It sounds ridiculous, but I built up an invented ‘historical chronology’ which covers a seven thousand year period, starting around 15,000 BCE – people and names, places and events.
This was all done just so I could write something that predated the biblical Flood and the ruin of legendary Carthage at the hand of a beautiful but lovelorn Queen in despair at her lost hero.
The Book Daily website for novels recently had a writer commenting on the ‘One-Novel Wonders’, people who have a terrific idea and write a Great Novel from it, and then never write another work.
She thinks it’s too bad they didn’t capitalize on that first work through follow-ups. Maybe they feel they don’t have another Great Novel in them. But she doubts it, and so do I.
I myself went through that same quandary some time back.
I found that, writing something every day, or at least very frequently, kept the Muse writing spirit’s flame alive for me, and now, I’ve captured several themes in a growing backlog that I draw from when it’s time to write something new. As it is for me now…
And now, why don’t I end on the subject I was originally going to write about? Genres…
Boy oh boy!… It’s so great we have so many choices of the kind of story we want to write.
Like, there’s almost no limit…
Think of Mozart. Any idea of how many different forms of musical composition he wrote in – masterfully, brilliantly and unforgettably?…
A … Symphonies, concerti, sonatas, trios, quartets, cantatas, arias, operas, choruses, masses, cassations… (What on earth is a “cassation?”)
But, there’s a catch.
If you want your works to (gasp!) actually SELL in the marketplace, you have to pay attention to this thing called ‘genre’. It’s a fancy French name for ‘genus’, ‘type’, denoting a grouping along common features.
Identifying its ‘genre’ means your work can be classified into a recognized category readers can relate to. For example, in fiction, it follows certain principles of theme, plot and architecture, among other dimensions. Like science fiction, fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, historical fiction, general romance (with approximately a zillion subcategories in this one) and so on…
Now this use of a genre is important. People (and these are known to include you and me) are Creatures Of Habit. We like things to be a certain way. Some of us will, it’s true, seek out ‘novelty’ (heh, heh… pun not originally intended). But most people like the predictability of things around them.
This goes for their tastes in things as well. They know what they like, even if they can’t tell you precisely what it is. They just ‘know’ it when they see it.
Naming or applying a genre to our work is a way of helping our readers sort our stories into their own preferences. Why? So readers can go to a place where the sort of stuff they already like is found.
Think of a bookstore – online or brick-and-mortar. Each has sections for the genres of books. The reader of historical fiction will haunt one place, while another steeped in a love of classical poetry will be browsing somewhere else.
In one way, this makes it easier for your book to compete, to get noticed. To get bought.
But, it also means you’re throwing your book up against others whose work is comparable, perhaps better than yours. (Of course, ‘better’ is in the eye of the beholder. Which is why everything – every word, every image, everything about the visual appeal of your book – is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT!!!)
Did I say how important it is??…
Have you noticed something about the way, for example, novels are constructed these days?
If you pick up a classic by Jane Austen, or Charles Dickens, or Stendahl, you’ll see how far today’s novels are from those models. The very first complete sentence in Austen’s “Persuasion” is – get this – 102 words long.
One hundred and two words…
And there is one sentence in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” which is four times longer than that.
These days, that’s practically enough for a complete work of flash fiction!…
And the final sentence of that first chapter in “Persuasion” has none of the cliff-hanging, something’s-going-to-happen, omigoodness-that’s-terrible, suspense.
Now, your story could be in any genre. It’s pace and development are yours, and are how you yourself would like to see the story unfold before you.
Many people like to get right into the action, get hooked immediately on a scene of latent suspense, or incipient danger, or into a budding but awkward romantic tryst which tells you Something Is Wrong. Any of these is your decision about what you want to express, and how you want to express it.
None of my works tend to get into such hooking bits from the get-go. They are modelled more after Haggard’s works, or those of a more obscure writer of sheer bejeweled literary romantic masterpieces named E. R. Eddison.
These authors wrote when there was an actual leisured class of educated people who could add the educational background to the story written. Dickens is another who wrote as much for the common man, in serialized form (it’s how he got paid – by the word), and dwelt on his characters and settings as much as he did on his wonderful plots.
Point is, you all have favorite authors who ‘work’ for you in storytelling. Perhaps you yourself want to craft something, inspired by their technique, their approach or their hallmarks. The great thing is, there’s no one to tell you not to.
And your initial works will soon take on a quality all your own. And then, you can begin to take a real pride in what you create. In whatever genre(s) you choose.
Just remember. The better you get, the better you get…
About The Author, Wim Baren
Wim Baren is the pen name of the author, who has had an abiding fascination with history and the many things throughout it that are so incredible that they could not have been made up.
The author attended an eastern college and then served in the nation’s armed forces for three years in Viet Nam, a very green place with, at that time, a high metallic density to the air.
From there, he realized that his technology education at college was already obsolete, and went to a small business school where he learned all about strategy and business and finance, and entered the financial services business, in which he labored until he realized that people wanted not so much advice as they wanted help on actually getting things done that they wanted to get done.
He turned his hand to consulting in project management, became an independent consultant, developed professional education courses in projects and risk and leadership, even a software learning application (!), and generally made as if this were his final career choice.
But it wasn’t.
And since I’ve turned my hand to authorship, this little work, among other offerings, was a quick brainwave that I thought I could share with others who might like a little literary confection, coupling the worlds of the real and fantasy.
Feedback (What you really think, but please keep it polite, respectful, as others would do for you) is really welcomed from you, as well as your recommending this little opinion to your friends and family, and neighbors, and passing strangers.
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