Daughter of Zeus, Muse of Epic Poetry

Firstly, you need to know; why Calliope? Truth be told it all began with a branding fiasco. I felt inspired as if God Himself spilled lighting inspiration upon me and blessed me with the name: The Writing Whisperer. Apparently, I wasn’t the first to have that stroke of genius. And she had for the foresight to trademark the name.

After graciously removing all references to myself as such, I received a kind note from the original Writing Whisperer. Never before had she delivered a cease and desist to a nicer, more respectful thief. She didn’t actually call me names. I just felt like a cad. Even if just through email, we parted friends. Still, I had already run my first writing workshop under the name. I had landed spots on TV and radio shows, and in newspapers. I pecked away on my Mac trying to conjure a new name; one bad idea after another. And my next workshop was already underway. I needed a new name. And if the writing Gods weren’t going to provide, I knew who would.

My sister has been my official editor for a couple of decades. As a respected L.A. court reporter, she knows correct grammar like nobody else. Of course, Toni’s been my unofficial editor since early elementary school when it became apparent that she got the book smarts and I got the whimsy. She’s also my unofficial therapist since every writer needs emotional support. It is somewhat dichotomous since I usually need a good therapy session after an editing session.

I recall one particularly hellish editing episode. Toni is as committed to impeccability as am I. We’d been red-lining and arguing between the creative and the correct for hours when I burst into tears. “Ah, honey. What’s the matter?” she asked.

Angie & Toni, The Fenimore Girls

“It’s the commas,” I sobbed into the phone. “I just don’t know where they go anymore.”

The thing about Toni is that she also has a great ear for story structure, development, great dialogue, tension, pacing, voice–all of it. She also knows a great hook. I called Toni. We brainstormed for hours, little morsels of genius hidden just behind our tongues. Finally, I asked her: what exactly is it that I provide? If it isn’t downright genius whispered into the anxious hearts of aspiring authors, what is it? I actually don’t remember the thread we followed that led us to Calliope, but like all genius, we knew we’d arrived.

I looked it up. Calliope: a keyboard instrument resembling an organ but with the notes produced by steam whistles, used chiefly on showboats and in traveling fairs. From Wikipedia: Daughter of Zeus, the muse who presided over eloquence and epic poetry; so called from the ecstatic harmony of her voice and is believed to be Homer’s muse for the Iliad and the Odyssey. She is spoken of by Ovid, as the “Chief of all Muses.” Oh, yeah. That was it.

The more we massaged the name, the more clear it all became. I don’t actually feed my own words to writers as whispering implies; quite the opposite. I show them the mirror. They find their own genius rather than relying upon mine, or anybody else’s, for that matter. My writers don’t just gasp with delight looking on from audience the when they see the magic, like the magician, they master the coin with their own nimble fingers. Thus was born The Calliope Writing Coach–and yet another branding fiasco. More about that in a future blog post.

Ciao for now,