Don’t Mess With the Muse

Posted: July 14, 2011 in fiction, humor, Life, Reading, storytelling, Writing
Tags: , ,

Last night it happened again. I sat at my desk to write an article I’m planning to submit to an online magazine. The laptop stood ready, its cursor blinking, waiting for me to tap the keys. Spreading my notes out beside me, I stretched my neck until it popped and wriggled in my chair to find a comfortable spot. Ready. I lifted my fingers and typed:

“The wailing was faint but Devany still heard it. The only one who did. The squad kept moving through the ruined building, weapons at the ready, searching for bodies, living and dead. Devany was in the rear and when he had a chance to slip up the dusty stairway unnoticed, he took it.”

I smiled with the relief that comes from having started. Then I read it. What the…? Wait a second! This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Where did THIS come from?

It’s that damn Muse. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. She knows the plan. Yet she refuses to follow it and gets all “You’re not the boss of me” when I try to steer her in the right direction. Or what I THINK is the right direction.

But I guess in all fairness, that’s kind of her job. To click the light bulb on in my head and give me something to write about, even if it’s not what I thought I would be writing. I’m writing in my head all the time. Snippets of dialogue. Descriptions of settings. Intros to quotes. Lines of commercial copy. Sometimes I scrawl them on index cards and stick them in the arms of the silver photo holder that serves as my “idea tree”. Sometimes I say them aloud to see if they make any sense. So if you see me sitting at a stoplight and it looks like I’m singing to the radio, I’m probably just talking out a conversation that’s been bouncing around my brain all day. Or if there’s a Rolling Stones or B52’s or Who song on the radio, I very well could be singing to it.

I don’t always know what words will hit the paper when I sit down to write but that’s half the fun. If I get on a tear and the Muse is with me, I can write for hours and enjoy every minute of it. I often have several writing projects going on at the same time which is as it should be. Unless I’m working on a deadline and have to focus solely on one piece, the Muse just hands me the folder for the one she’s in the mood for and away we go.

Maybe the Muse is the one who makes all the plans and I’m actually working for her. Yep, that’s probably it. I hope to be in her employ for a long, long time. And the Devany paragraph? That’s the opening to a short story in progress called “Hush Little Baby”. I hope the Muse is in the mood tonight to learn what Devany finds at the top of the stairs because I know I am.

  1. Most of the time, when I sit down to write, I have no idea what’s going to come out – no kind of plan except an idea that may have popped into my head as I’m waking in the morning, which is where most of the beginnings of my writings come from. I am terrible at writing fiction, I need more practice in that area, but you have a gift for it. Just what is at the top of those stairs?

So, what do you think? I'm listening!

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