The spookiness of written truth

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Some people have a built in BS detector. They can see the flaws and scams in the world’s best publicity.

Writers have a spookiness truth detector.

In her excellent book for writers, The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way, author Naomi Ruth Lowinsky begins with one of my favorite Robert Graves quotes:

“The test of a poet’s vision,” writes Graves, “is the accuracy of his portrayal of the White Goddess. The reason why hairs stand on end, the eyes water, when one writes or reads a true poem is that a true poem is necessarily an invocation to the White Goddess.”

The experience Graves describes is similar to that spooked feeling one gets while walking down a lonely road at night and pondering what might be watching him from the dark forest, or while walking through an old house at night and thinking of yarns about it being haunted or that people were killed there or that something lurks within that isn’t human.

When a writer reads or writes the truth, the bells and whistles of his spookiness truth detector go off. Now, this detector won’t help him decide whether Mobil or Valvoline is better for his car or even whether he can get the meal his body needs on any given night at Olive Garden or Outback.

No, the spookiness truth detector is usually reserved for matters of the heat and soul, gods and goddesses, sun and moon, and for thoughts and ideas that are only too happy to go bump in the night.

When I read, I want to be spooked either by thrills and chills and excitement or by the truth of important things. When I write, I know my revisions and edits are done when my eyes water and the hairs on my arms stand on end.

If you’re a writer who is in tune with his muse—or, say, with the universe—then you may feel spooked when you read Lowinsky’s book. Truth be told, my BS detector went off while reading certain sections of Robert Graves The White Goddess. But it didn’t go off when I read The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way.

But, I’m not here to convince you to buy the book. I’ve been feeling spooked while researching and writing my novel Sarbande and while reading through a lucky haul of good novels lately.

I’m not frightened, mind you. I just wanted to spread out the chills a bit.

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I’ve started a new web log called Sarabande’s Journey to share some of the heroine’s journey resources I’ve found while working on my novel. If you are reading about, writing about, or on such a journey, I invite you to stop by and see if anything there spooks you.

Malcolm

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