Sunday, 24 July 2011

Muse defused? Careful with that blue touch paper!

Until recently I was unamused. Muse desertion.
There were good enough reasons for that sad state of affairs:
  • too much social networking (um, does blogging count as writing?)
  • in the middle of a rewrite / edit since forever
  • a new day-job that sucked my energy and time (they sure have some cheek, those employer types) and destroyed my writing space (commuting by train was over).
In the bumble through life that I call destiny, excuses are like plentiful windfall fruit. I pick them up, take a bite and say 'That's why I've been fumbling around on the internet. That's why I haven't been writing creatively. I've been building an online presence, establishing a network. Experimenting with establishing a new writing discipline. Plus, I've been rewriting.'

Well, one of my windfall excuses passed its sell-by date last week. I finished the rewrite / edit of the first two thirds of a psychological thriller. There had been a few thousand new words added but the process had mainly been sharpening of key characters, strengthening their voices and aligning them to the correct moral compass. Full excel-of-doom analysis model, chapter by chapter.

It was an essential but museless task, a trudge through thick mud. I sat looking at the last few pages, originally written some months ago, and pondered what might happen next. If I muttered the right incantations would my muse reappear? Might I face a period of writer's block? Poor tormented author? Unsure of the outcome, I lit the blue touchpaper and sent a signal into the heavens. Muse, I need you back.

The next morning I had a long train journey for a meeting in the capital. Melody Gardot on earphones. Hot coffee. Back in the old writing office. The voice of the protagonist came through loud and clear. Several pages later and I was being thrown off the train, end station. All I wanted to do was continue typing on my laptop. Return of the Muse.

That evening I floundered a little. The protag and the DI had discovered a key piece of evidence that would need changes to a few earlier chapters. In my head I switched to the excel-of-doom and prepared to re-enter the edit / rewrite zone. Then I thought NO! No more delaying until completion of first draft. Muse, I am yours, do your worst.

She caught me in the night, spun her intrigue and let me wake on the strands of that web. I struggled against the threads and she felt the vibrations, running at me from her dark corner. I was braced for the bite but she leapt upon my back and propelled me into the spare bedroom. There, she held me captive for an hour before the family awoke. I threw the words onto my page, set up the grisly double suicide and was released for my day job with a sense of elation.

The next day, Saturday, I was pleased to see that I had ten new Twitter followers, three new friends on Goodreads, a couple of facebook friend requests, a smattering of fresh sales on Amazon and twenty free downloads on Smashwords. For two hours I social networked and kept my muse in the closet. That was until I happened across the J A Konrath's blog post 'Are you writing'. It didn't say anything I didn't already know and I paraphrase JAK here: stop spending valuable time reading blogs and generally arsing around. Go write! Produce, produce, PRODUCE! If you are an author you must produce.

This hurt. It hurt a lot. Before I stumbled upon the otherworld of social networking, blogging, online writers' forums etc, I had been a prodigeous writer. Konrath was talking to me and, at the same time, the Muse was screaming in my ear.

An immediate reaction occurred. I ran into the other room, put on some music and started to write...this blog post. After half an hour of typing, deleting, rewriting, I re-read JAK's post. Then I switched off the computer. I took out the other computer, the old one that can't connect to internet anymore, and completed the sad demise of a murder victim's family. The Muse stroked my hair as she clung to my back.

I'm in her sway. The whispering mystery that is my Muse. Her name is Virtue.

Okay, enough blogging, gotta go write!


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  1. Good for you! Life is very challenging sometimes and the first thing that suffers is our writing.
    I read Konrath's article somewhere... He said don't even bother social networking until you've published three books.
    So confusing all this advice.
    I throw my hands up in the air and say to hell with it, I'm writing. If no one reads it, so be it. If I never sell a book, so be it too.
    Dammit Jim, I'm a writer, not a doctor.
    Louise Sorensen
    louise3anne twitter

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Louise. Easier said than done, but we have to focus on the writing. Good things will come of it ;-)

  2. Ruby, I love your story about the Muse spider Virtue. So cool. I have personified my Muse as well, and I love to write her freewrite letterz when when I feel stuck. Maybe I should get writing too.

    1. Hey Wren, thanks for stopping by! Let it flow ;-)