I used to be an avid motorsports fan. I thrived on the exploits of Dan and Mario, Bruce and Denny, Jody and Giles, Keke, Niki, James, Alan and Alain, Aryton and Mark. I still keep abreast of it, but it’s become a complicated relationship.
I was recently reading Mark Hughes at MotorSport. He’d written a mid-season recap of how Formula 1 teammates fared in qualifying against one another. About one driver, he said, in essence, that the driver was still correcting and reacting to the car, that he hasn’t been able to get into a flow with driving it.
That’s how I often feel with creating a novel. Days come and go where I feel like I’m chasing the scenes, acting, and reacting. I’m not able to get ahead of it. I blame the muses for not showing up, for mumbling guidance, changing their minds, or disagreeing with one another, trapping me and my writing in their battle. But then, building on experience and effort, suddenly I fall into the flow. You know the flow when you’re there. Time and the world seem to vanish, because you’re inside your creation. Scenes spin into being like magic. Dialogue leaps into your head and onto the page. Decisions are made; you hold your breath at what’s happened, and walk away spent.
Today’s session isn’t a flowing session…yet. The muses seem to be sleeping in. Every sound from grinding to talking heard in the coffee shop feels like a personal assault.
The flow doesn’t always come easy. When it does, it’s a spoiler. Yesterday was one of those days. I walked in, sat down, wrote, edit, revised, cleaned it up, and departed. See how that would spoil me?
Time to put my head down and try again to write like crazy, at least one more time.
Some days, I require a word count because the muses are behaving like children. The words won’t come. A thousand pounds of pressure is required to press the computer keys. It is exhausting. Computer games call, sunshine beckons, books that I want to read whisper, “Come here,” and to-do lists acquire enormous importance. The word count is necessary to get some frigging work done. That’s in the writing process stage.
In the editing and revising stage, the muses are generally mute. Their work, they tell me, is done. Chapters are the masters. X number of chapters must be completed today. Sometimes the muses show up and start talking about another project. Other projects, with the glorious feeling of creation that they impart, are always seductive. I beat the muses back with sticks. “Not today, damn it. You know that I need to finish this first.” They don’t care. Muses are self-centered. They run with their own agendas.
There’s always a stick for the days when it’s needed. But some days, the muses are waiting, tapping their little feet or fingers, eager to begin. Just give them a sip of coffee, and off we go. I don’t always know if I’m going in the right direction and harbor this terrible fantasy that I’m a football player in a tight game, running with the ball toward the wrong goal.
A table full of muses are here today. Each is learning forward, ready to feed me their input. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.