Don’t Anger the Muses

I love it when I get in here to write, and I seem to know exactly where to begin and what to type. Little thinking is demanded; it’s just go, go, go. 

I know it’s not from ‘nowhere’ or some mysterious regions of my brain, or a gift from the muses. Truthfully, I’m agnostic. I’m not going to be categorical and say that it isn’t the muses. Maybe it is. Don’t want to outrage them by denigrating their contribution, you know. If it is due to the muses and they cut me off, I’d be bereft.

In my defense, I know that I stopped in the middle of a scene yesterday. I was following a trend. Once I’d shut down and was walking, thoughts arrived about what to do. Walking frequently acts as a laxative on my thinking, out there, going somewhere that only requires me to think, left, right, left, right — which out for the bus — permits to me to think.

I’d not been planning my thoughts and wasn’t actively thinking about the novel in specific ways. It was more a part of multi-streaming that I often do, especially while walking, surfing a little of one before jumping to another. This idea popped up, found its roots, and grew. More grew, developing new angles, as I showered and shaved this morning.

I guess it’s probable that I was thinking, but the muses were directing the streams and deciding what came to what. How’s that for a compromise?

Got my hot coffee. I’m in my chair. Time to write again, at least one more time.

 

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One Typo

I was writing several days ago, working on the novel in progress, April Showers 1921. I’d dream the novel, seeing the cover and knowing the main characters and a lot of story. Yet I was struggling to find and fulfill the potential the dream had shown the novel to have.

I plugged on, though, searching, testing, writing, and then tossing some of it away, trying to find the right path. Completing a scene, I went back over it, making minor changes. I uncovered a typo, an ess attached to a word, changing the noun from singular to plural. While laughing at the images that plural conjured, I deleted the letter, but then reconsidered what the plural could mean to the story. Within a few seconds, that extra letter and the shift from singular to plural opened up a new range of ideas. I went with it.

Results surprised me. That typo bloomed like algae, taking over that scene, but also illuminating masses of the underlying concept. The typo changed the main character’s interactions with others and shifted the entire story by several degrees. The typo opened unexpected mind streams. I surfed into new directions again and again, reacting with surprise, but also with satisfaction that this novel was becoming something different than how it’d been going. All of this is what causes fiction writing to be so engaging and entertaining for me.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Cliffhanger

I worry, is there too much dialogue? Is the story too obtuse? Is it too, is it too…arg.

I try to follow the muses as they flash their lights and urge me forward into the foggy writing night and a cocoon of dark imagery. Anxiety ripples through my torso. I want to ask the muses if they’re sure that this is the way, but you know that you dare not question the muses.

Peeking to either side to see what else could be there can’t be resisted but the muses have led me into a precarious wasteland. I feel like cliffs abut the path, and the path is growing narrow and precarious. I follow but I struggle with the catch the muses have clamped on me, a catch almost as beautiful as Catch-22‘s catch. My catch (for the characters) is that they need to remember to know what to do but if they remember, they can be tracked and dusted. (Dusted will be explained at another time, but use your imagination.)

Now all those characters are remembering and the protagonist, Anders, is freaking out, because he’s starting to remember, despite efforts not to remember, what happens when you’re dusted, and what this is all about. The others are coming, the trap is closing, and then, ‘lo, here’s a new fucking group running toward him from the opposite direction.

The muses gave no warning about them. In a panic, I wonder, who are they? What’s Anders going to do now? He was trying to ditch Jazmine and Petty because he remembers with growing certainty that remembering in one person is reinforced in another — memories beget memories — and that’s not good for here and now.

Pooh-poohing my worries, the muses wave their dainty fingers, dismissing my concerns. “We’re stopping for today,” they inform me. I picture them nibbling chocolate truffles. “We’ll pick up here tomorrow.”

It feels like, you know, I watched Avengers: Endgame, and here I am, waiting to see what happens. It feels like I’m watching Game of Thrones, waiting to be see the next death, the next twist.

Cliffhangers. Fun to watch, harder to write when the muses are guiding you on an organic writing trip.

Good day of writing like crazy in one sense, cause, hey, progress. We cheer progress. Mystifying day in another sense because of the questions created by this cliffhanger and the writer’s angst that it enjoins.

What happens next? Well, I go home to wait and see.

Wobble Like Crazy

I’m back in the writing space following some unpleasant medical issues. In the last three days, I’ve averaged two thousand words each. It’s delicious to feel like I’m moving forward, no matter how word counts fall upon the writing spectrum in regards to their importance. I didn’t plan any word counts but they’re proof of something happening, a minor validation that I’ve been doing more than daydreaming.

After some arguing with the muses, me interrogating them to explain every thread, decision, and insight, and them laughing at me, I followed their instructions to, “Just write.” Some of the writing could be permanent but some of it might be delicately sculpted away or blown away with heavy explosives. Doesn’t matter. What I’ve written before during other writing projects may not help me this time. Each time that I write another novel, it’s a new adventure in learning how to be a better writer. I must write to have the material to shape, an interesting cycle. Write, edit, write, re-write, write, revise…where am I?

Well, I’m on the novel-writing spectrum. I slide along, following paths, retracing, forging new paths, falling off cliffs, and climbing back up. So it goes until there’s finally enough coherency for a novel to take shape, and then, finally, enough satisfying story in a reasonable order arrives, and then, at last, I pick a place where it can be comfortably ended with reasonable reward for readers who ventured through my thicket of words.

Can you say run-on?

I’m permitted a cup of coffee a day. I apply my allowance to my writing.

Illness is depressing, not because I have it, but because of its limitations. Bending down to pick up a piece of paper, scratch a cat’s chin, or put on my shoes and socks is slow and tedious and brings a measure of stinging discomfort. Walking remains uncomfortable and difficult, but not impossible. Of course, I have a history of rushing the healing processes. Press on, regardless, right? When I had a broken neck on Okinawa and wore a halo device, I pushed to go back to work and ended up dislodging that metal mother twice, sending me back into hospital. Anyway, I wobble around at a slow and careful pace, watching the ground to find the threads and seeds that the muses leave, then trying to parse their guidance.

Yeah, just write, baby. Stop critiquing, doubting, wondering, fearing, worrying, and questioning. Just get ‘er done. Pitter-patter.

Done writing like crazy for at least one more day. Sloshy, my drain-collection bag resting against my calf, is filled. Time to wobble on and empty him.

So, Progress.

My editing slowed down in book 2 (Entangled LEREs) of the Incomplete States series. I blame it on three things.

  1. Life distractions
  2. A poorly written chapter
  3. Mischievous muses
  4. Misophonia

Life distractions happen. Part of it this week was enduring my normal descent into the dark troughs of my being. It’s a regular thing. I scowl, swear, and endure it, hoping to emerge as a perkier and happier person on the other end (which I do) while trying to reduce the dark side’s impact (which I barely manage to do) and reduce the time I’m affected (which I don’t do). I shrug. It’s over until the next episode.

The poorly written chapter is another matter. The first time I read the chapter, “A Dark and Stormy Night”, I finished confused about what I’d read. I immediately suspected that it’s probably not good when the author doesn’t understand what they wrote. A second reading was required, and then a third to drill down into why I was confused and what I can do about it. Two days were then spent on fixing it before I continued.

During that period, I reckoned that the changes were not significant but that once I’m done editing the four books, I’ll have a complete set of the first draft. Then I’ll edit and revise it again.

I had resigned myself to no writing like crazy while I’m editing the series. The muses, though, have become restless and bored. That makes them mischievous. Out of this, they’ve begun tossing out novel suggestions. They often use, “Wouldn’t it be fun to write,” as their opening prelude.

Yes, I enjoy hearing their ideas. It’s stimulating and exciting, which makes it harder for me to rein the muses in and gently tell them, “I’ll keep that in mind.” See, the muses always want me to drop everything else and start pursuing their idea right now. I don’t want to discourage them, but I need to be disciplined and finish this series and publish it first. This is growth and maturity for me, because just two years ago, I would have let the muses ride me like a horse and answer their spurs.

Misophonia (in my terms, based on my limited knowledge) is a strong emotional reaction to sounds. I have such a reaction to people smacking their lips while eating, or walking around humming and singing to themselves in pubic places like coffee shops. I’ve always blamed Mom for this behavior in me because I thought I’d learned my reactions from her. Mom was always snapping at us about the way we ate or chewed our gum, or for humming, turning pages loud, or making clicking noises.

As I do with things that bother me, I sought information and stumbled across misophonia. That linked page states, “The latest research suggests it is sensory processing issue within the brain. Misophonia elicits immediate negative physiological responses to certain sounds that most people don’t seem to notice. This sensitivity can have an adverse effect on a person’s life causing problems with activities of daily living.”

Well, shucks, that’s exactly what I endured this week. Twice, a particular woman came in, sat down at the table next to me, and hummed and sang to herself. Except for when she spoke, she hummed, even when others spoke to her. She hummed whether she was sitting, standing, or walking.

It drove me nuts. I recognized that it’s not her being inconsiderate, and that murdering her or growling at her wouldn’t help anything. As I processed her sounds, I realized this could be a coping mechanism. It could be subconscious.

It still annoyed me. I struggled to cope. I looked for somewhere else to sit (but also resented that would need to move because of her). 

So, I didn’t cope well, and it affected my editing. She’s not here today. I’ll shrug it off while researching how to cope.

Now, I’m ravenous for lunch and I’m done writing like crazy editing like crazy, for at least one more day.

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