Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Story Knows Best I

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
~ E.L. Doctorow

So often, the story we're writing is wiser than we are. So often, our creativity begins when we abandon control and just let the story direct us.

As we move forward, writing the word or sentence we know, the next will always appear...if we're open to it. If we have our eyes on the road and our headlights on, if we're prepared to trust in the unknown that lies just beyond the reach of our vision, that unknown will become illuminated...and known.

There's a scene in my novel, The MoonQuest, that reminds me of that Doctorow quote. In it, the main character is walking a fantastical celestial road that only forms as he steps forward. As stressful as the journey is, the road takes him where he needs to go.

Ironically, that's the same journey I have travelled in writing each installment in my Q'ntana Trilogy of novels and films (The MoonQuest, The StarQuest, The SunQuest). Some days Doctorow's headlights showed me the next scene. Some days, they showed me only the next sentence. Some days, only the next word.

But as I surrendered to the journey -- and to the voice of my Muse -- the stories unfolded, magnificently, and in ways I could never have predicted, plotted or imagined.

As I write in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write: "All I can do -- all we can ever do, in writing as in life -- is trust in the story. It has never let me down before. Truly, the story knows best."

• How much control do you cling to in your stories? In your life?

• Where you can let go some of that control and trust that the story -- the one you're writing and the one you're living -- knows best?

• Where in your creative journey can you more fully trust that the headlights illuminating your way
will carry you to your destination?

Headlight photo by Peter Roome

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The MoonQuest movie
The MoonQuest book
The Voice of the Muse book
Mark David Gerson

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dreams and Desires: A Guest Post

This is the second time author/poet Dan Stone has appeared on my blog. The first was back in November 2009, when he was a guest on my Muse & You radio show. Then, we talked about his first novel, The Rest of Our Lives, later nominated for a prestigious Lambda Award.

This time, it's to help celebrate the publication of his new poetry collection,
Tricky Serum. In the following guest post, Dan tells about the power for him of dreams and of the moon and shares three poems from the new book. Not surprisingly, I'm partial to both themes, given their connection with my novel and soon-to-be-movie, The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy.

In fact, this is an exchange of sorts. Today, as Dan's post appears here, a guest post of mine appears on his blog: a dream-excerpt from
The MoonQuest.

Enough from me. It's time to turn it over to Dan...and his elixir of poems...


Moon as Metaphor...
and the Tricky Serum of Our Dreams

A guest post by Dan Stone

Most of what has come into my life so far, or what I hope is on the way, started with a dream. I love dreams and I believe in them, and in one way or another nearly everything I do is connected to them. Maybe it’s a Pisces thing.

I believe the Moon is a perfect metaphor for the guidance that is our emotions. It reflects the light it’s receiving -- relative to its position in the sky, to the way it is turning and to what it is facing. The Moon is always making its journey and is always reflecting a focus relative to where it is and where it is going. It is always telling us something about the distance between what is and what can be.

The Moon’s phases are pictures of that emotional journey -- pictures of desire, pictures of resistance to desire. We can see new desires being born, desires waxing and evolving, desires manifesting fully, resistance to desire releasing, waning.

As the Moon makes its journey through the constellations, we can observe and feel the desires and resistance relative to that focus, that topic. We have endless opportunities to observe our progress along the emotional journey toward any and every desire that is active in us. Or we have the choice to sleep through it all -- to never look outside our window to see how we’re doing.

The Moon continues its journey regardless of whether we are conscious of it or not. The Moon does its job whether we observe or acknowledge or respect it or not.

If our feelings feel like they’re feeling us, all we really have to do is wake up, look through the window that is our focus and notice where the Moon is and how it’s doing. We can know then, and any other time we choose, what our feelings are about and where they are taking us. Our mood is only a mystery as long as we are choosing not to notice or pay attention to its position in the sky that is our own cosmos of dreams and desires.

The poems that I've included here, from my newly released collection, Tricky Serum: An Elixir of Poems (Lethe Press, 2011), are a sort of tracing of dreams and desires and the illusions that sometimes confuse or impede or delay them.

Whether present or merely implied in these poems, the metaphor of the Moon as our own emotional guiding light leads us on our journey through and to our dreams, to whatever extent we are able to pay attention, to listen and to learn.

As suggested by the title, these poems address the tricky prospect of elixirs ...the quest for the substance of our dreams, the magic potion for fulfilling what we hold to be our fondest and often most elusive desires. The poems are intended to be read as a progression, a journey through the process of seeking, finding and relinquishing our convictions about what we need or want...from an "other...and from ourselves...about waking up, or not...from some of the dreams we dream about the only life we can save..."

Luna Leading

She walks in beauty, yes,
but not just like the night.
She moves through the day as well,
a knowing goddess not a guess,
divinely sure of what she tells.
Time and tide and blood
are at her beck and call,
measuring her journey
through the stars, responding
to her signs and phases
even as she points the way
to any heaven that is held
close to the heart,
any distant hell that needs release.
She gently shows us where we are,
whether in or out of sight.
We push back the curtain
or pull the covers to our head.
Either way her lady finger gestures,
lures us to the dreams, desires
reflected in her light.


On the lake the winds are calm
enough to tell one breeze from the other
and the water lies as still as two lovers’ eyes
holding one another in the space before a kiss,
like sea desiring sky in a privacy before the dawn.

The earth stops turning
long enough to feel that we’ve arrived,
that a wish has just come true
and the only prayer remaining
is a thank you whispered to the trees,
attention to the hummingbirds and cranes.

There are times a lover’s arm around your waist,
his breathing in the night,
will take you home
and other times the memory
of his calling out your name
is all the joy you get to keep.

In the morning
dreams will drop you at your door
and drive away, leaving you to wonder
where they go, and what they came to say,
leaving you alone, awake,
and aching to go back to sleep.


I keep some things to myself,
knowing that disclosure
is a sound that sometimes
only dogs and critics hear.
I know the damage dreams
can suffer in some hands.
So I hold them close—
my dreams—
like newborns needing suckle,
like secrets that are magic
only when they are not shared.
Because they’re mine alone
they are untouched . . .
undefiled . . .
unattached to any word or deed,
to any face or form,
to any foreign need.
These dreams they are the force
that moves across the surfaces
and through the depths
and to the heights
of what I most believe . . .
like the stars that speak
the language I am learning,
like a god who only
answers prayers from me.
In my silence I can keep
the faith I feel,
leave it burning and becoming
what I want, without explaining.
I can choose it anytime
and it will always call me
to a place that’s clearer,
sweeter, more than
where or who I’ve been,
more than any company I’ve kept
or kingdoms that I’ve seen.
These dreams, they know the way
and in the not revealing,
in the nondisclosure,
I am getting where I’m going,
I am letting myself go.
I am just not telling.


Dan Stone is the author of Tricky Serum: An Elixir of Poems, and the gay romantic fantasy, The Rest Of Our Lives: A Novel (Lethe Press, 2009). He's also an essayist, photographer, intuitive coach/consultant and college instructor.

Dan's fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in Focus on the Fabulous: Colorado GLBT Voices, Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling, White Crane Journal, A&U Magazine, Astropoetica, Mostly Maine, Bay Windows, Gents, Badboys, and Barbarians, New Gay Male Poetry, and Rebel Yell: Stories by Contemporary Southern Gay Authors.

He is the co-creator with artist Cher Odum of a line of original poetry-art and author of the spiritual blog, The Shower Channel. More information about Dan, his books, fine art photography and consulting services are available through his website.

From now until July 4, get the ebook version of Tricky Serum: An Elixir of Poems for only $5 when you purchase the book at Smashwords using this coupon code: JG44A. The paperback version is currently available at, as is Dan’s novel, The Rest of Our Lives (Lethe Press, 2009)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Risky Writing

"If 20 percent of the people aren't against you, then you're not going anyplace interesting, whether you're name is Martin Luther King Jr. or whether you're a dorky management guru [named Tom Peters]."
~ Dorky Management Guru Tom Peters

Creative expression is about risk-taking. It's about boarding the Starship Enterprise, taking off for parts unknown and going where no one has dared to go before.

When you do that, chances are that not everyone is going to like what you've written. Chances are someone is going to hate what you've written.

It's all right to offend people, to push people's buttons, to take them up to that ledge on which we, as artists, live...and then to give them a gentle nudge.

Art is about pushing boundaries. It's about forcing people (including the artist) out of their comfort zone and inciting them to reexamine their beliefs and rediscover who they think they are. Sometimes, it's about getting people mad at you.

"You've got to go out on a limb," American humorist Will Rogers is reputed to have said, "because that's where the fruit is."

• Where are you going out on a limb and taking risks with your writing? With your life?

• Where are you clinging to the tree trunk and playing it safe?

• Where are you willing to get people riled up? Where are you holding yourself back for fear of being judged or attacked?

Commit today to taking more risks, to going out on a limb. Commit today to letting yourself be judged...and letting it be okay.

Photo Credits: Tom Peters by Allison Shirreffs; Will Rogers from