TRACKING THE MUSE
Four Writers on Process
In 2007 the editors of Blackbird asked four contributors featured in our Introductions Reading Loop to write about creative process in “Tracking the Muse.” The quality of the resulting essays convinced us to make this an annual feature. This year, two poets, a playwright, and a short fiction writer discuss how the happenstance and anguish of revision contribute to the magic and hard work of creative expression.
Sandra Beasley confesses that process is not always pretty and involves more than “cozy nooks and teahouses.” Part of that process is admitting when it needs, as Mondrian once stated of revision, “more boogie-woogie.”
Jehanne Dubrow, writing “it is time to make something up of whole cloth," discusses her creation of the fictional Yiddish poet Ida Lewin. Writing in this character’s voice, Dubrow must imagine pre-1938 “fragments which were once whole poems.”
Terry Gibson writes about the role of observation in his work as well as inspiration and imagination; he notes how a remark or gesture, imagined repeatedly for a character, can lead to the play itself.
Miroslav Penkov writes about fear and the myth of the muse. He explores the process of recording a character’s actions and telling a story with honesty, while noting each story’s curious origin and development.