Drunk Muses

My muses seem drunk today.

Picture this: it’s a party, mostly of strangers, maybe co-workers who’ve never socialized outside of the office. Everyone is subdued, withdrawn and watchful, spying on others from safe corners and walls. Then some alcohol enters the scene. Glasses are filled. Sips are indulged. Alcohol slips into the bloodstreams. All start loosening up and chatting away, becoming livelier.

The latter are my muses today. They’ve had a few. Now they’re giggling and flirting, throwing ideas at me like I’m a dart board, frequently scoring high marks. As the scenes, characters, and ideas hit, I urge them, “Slow down, slow down, I can’t keep up.” That only encourages the tipsy little buggers to offer more at a faster rate, feeding off one another.

Not complaining, just noting. It’s a lot better than those days when the stand statuesque to the sad, cold and contemptuous, offering little other than disdain.

Got my coffee. Time to heed the muses and write like crazy before they pass out.

Writing Reflections

A friend’s question prompted some post-response thinking as I conducted my pre-writing walk.

Before 2014, I wrote six novels. I never edited or revised them, and never sent them anywhere.

Between 2014 and 2016, I wrote four more novels. Since 2016, I epublished them. None did well. In fairness, I barely marketed them. I still remain fond of Returnee.

Since 2016, I’ve written five more novels. I haven’t published any of them. The first four were the Incomplete States quadrilogy that begins with Four On Kyrios. I shopped them to forty agents or more. None showed interest.

I finished April Showers 1921 last month and began shopping it with agents. Sent it to twenty. Three agents are showing interest by requesting more material.

Progress?

Last week I began writing another novel. The writing is the thing, you see. The new project has me laughing as the muses pitch crazy new twists on the whole thing. It’s the fun stage. It’s hard to keep up but I’m going to try to enjoy it while I’m on it.

Of course, like ocean waves, it’s not all linear, writing a novel. Ups and downs, setbacks and advances, excitement and frustration are ahead. Each will probably be endured multiple times in the months it takes me to write, edit, and revise this piece. That’s part of the process.

Got my coffee. My ass is in the chair and the computer is on. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Fast Start

I love starting a new project. I love the energy that comes with a new writing project. Energizing and freeing, it’s like I’m taking on a new life.

Nothing — I mean, writing projects — ever really starts easily for me, but then, if I can find and dislodge the right piece of idea, it all starts crashing down in an avalanche of story and characters. This is my third day of working on my new novel, working title, It Begins. The first two days were sputtering efforts. I’m a pantser, so I’d muddled some concepts, characters, and settings together. I managed about a thousand words on each day, but they were gritty writing sessions, real plodders. In today’s session, I managed to dislodge the right little piece, and the rest crashed in. All I could do was hang on and type fast. After an hour of that, I’d added over fourteen pages and thirty-three hundred words. Then I stopped and created the book’s bible so that I could keep track of everything.

Now, I’m depleted and hungry. Half a cup of cold coffee remains. As usual, writer ass afflicts me, and both buns feel like they’ve gone to sleep. Time to walk, wind down, think about the next piece of story, and find food.

It’s been a good day of writing like crazy.

The Muses’ Pitches

Things went well for an unplanned process, defying expectations. I finished revising and editing a novel, felt I something to submit, and began that process. I finished all that just in time to fly across country to visit with my Mom. I won’t say how old she is but she remembers listening to the radio to get news of World War II. She’s recovering from shoulder replacement surgery and it was her birthday. It gave me a chance to visit with sisters and their families, too.

It turned into one of those visits that makes me nostalgic, one that finds me wishing that I lived closer to these family members and socialized with them more often. I left that part of my home before I had a driver’s license, so much of their living and growing has been without my presence. They’ve grown into people that I never foresaw, and their extended families of children and grandchildren amaze and delight me.

Now back home, I’m ready to begin a new writing project. Four concepts have reached the finals. As I walk about, live life, and drink coffee, muses have taken up representation of each concept. They’re pushing hard on their babies.

All of them would be fun and challenging to write, (otherwise, why bother, am I right?). One goes into a completely different direction. Another continues my recent trend of writing ideas. A third concept returns me to write another of the Life Lessons with Savanna series (two books have been written and self-published). The fourth concept takes me into the murder thriller realm.

All are books I’d like to read. That makes them books I’d like to write. I’ve given each concept some BRAM (Biological Random Access Memory), sketching scenes, forming characters, and outlining rough plots and arcs in my head. As I contemplate my choices, I remember how many other concepts I have stashed in my head, waiting for daylight. I feel bad for ignoring them but no muses are stepping up to rep them. I imagine the muses that stood for them before sitting around in their bathrobes, drinking beer and wine from coffee cups in small, cluttered sitting rooms, reading newspapers and magazines, watching television, and noshing on snacks. They’ve aged and lost hair, and aren’t the beautiful young muses that they once were. They’re not interested in generating the energy to dress and give a proper presentation. “Another time,” they say with a wave of their cups and food, as they continue with the activity.

Sounds like I’m running an old muse home in my head.

After writing all of this, I sipped coffee, did a stroll and mulled the projects. The muses made their pitches again. One concept was chosen.

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

Poor, Poor, Cynical Me

After writing a snubnopsis – a typo that caught me off guard. Freudian slip? My dark side asserted its opinion about having an agent read it and react positively? Don’t know.

Okay, to begin again, after writing the synopsis and submitting twenty queries, I was alternatively discouraged and excited. I’m told that all writers endure these cycles. I endure mine in edgy desperation, not sharing it with anyone outside of my posts. Not asking for a shoulder, mind you, just stating facts.

I’m always disappointed in the submission process. One, some agents are so nebulous and wishy-washy about what they’re looking for, offering scant evidence of what’ll attract them. Many fall back on that old expression, “good writing”. They know it when they read it.

Two, some of them offer a huge buffet of wants. They want it all. Send it all to them! Hurry.

Anyway, though, that done, the writing mind struck out on a hunt for a new story. I’m due to write a third book in a series, after e-publishing the first two. The problem that I face is that I’ve outlined the third book, so it feels like it’s already written, or something. Muses are sirens with other ideas. That’s why I’ve eschewed outlining. I prefer pantsing. It feels like the territory is always new and fresh when I follow an unplotted, organic trail.

Oh, boy. What I know, though, is that I want and need to write, to begin again, to follow the muses, find a story, and write it. I dislike the downtown. I’m addicted to drifting through the day, imagining characters and their situations. As usual, after careful consideration, I’ll do something impulsive. Then I’ll start writing like crazy.

Flight is boarding now. Later, gators.

“Every Family Has Secrets”

I’d finished writing the final working draft of a novel in progress. Which meant, other than trying to get it published, marketing, future editing and revising demanded by editors and proof-readers, I’m free to work on something else.

I’d already planned to shift to a series. A murder-mystery series, I’ve published two of those novels through KDP. More are in mind to be done, and people who read the first two are politely wondering when the third is coming out.

Meanwhile, though, I began thinking about my family as I was walking this morning. Oh, yes, I could write a novel about ‘them’.

Well, it’s not really them. The novel begins with Lisa, my little sister, being suspected of murder when her friend’s body is found in her house. Lisa isn’t there, though. It’s a bloody scene, and as the hours pass, Lisa doesn’t answer her texts or cell. She doesn’t post on FB or other social media, and didn’t show up for work. Her boyfriend says that he hasn’t seen her, and her boys, staying with her father, haven’t heard from her nor seen her.

Is Lisa missing and dead, or running and hiding?

Her older sister, Gina, a young and busy grandmother and physical therapist, is concerned about her sister. She’s the one who becomes the amateur private investigator, looking for little sister. Secrets about everyone begin showing up, of course. Every family has secrets. Fractures, tensions, and disappointments grow.

I thought that “Every Family Has Secrets” was a possible working title. There was more to the story and plot thought out, but that’s enough.

It was an entertaining twenty minutes of thinking and walking. Time to go home and get something to eat.

Surprise!

A moment ambushed today that I really wasn’t expecting. I finished writing, editing, and revising draft number ten of April Showers 1921. 

I’d finished writing the novel, and it ‘felt’ correct, a coherent and complete tapestry of time, characters, settings, events, and story.

I was pretty damn astonished. Just like reading an entertaining book, writing a book that entertains me leaves me breathless and lost, wanting more while processing, it’s over. It’s good. It’s done.

Draft number ten is a hefty boy, let me tell you, six hundred ten pages in MS Word, one hundred eighty thousand plus words. It’d required eight months, my gosh, almost to the date I’d officially started it after a dream in early January. I’d first mentioned it in a January 27, 2019 post. Eight months of thinking about it, writing, revising, researching, editing, processing, and editing, revising, and re-writing again and again. It’s odd and startling to realize that I’ve written all those pages in that time, and doesn’t count all those pages that’ve been removed during the revising process. It was just such a short spurt of time, and just a few hours each day of typing.

Now, I’m contemplating, what do I do with myself? This is my writing time, but I’ve finished writing the novel. It’s like getting out of school early. Such possibilities! Should I go eat? Well, I’m not hungry; this is my writing time. Tell someone? Well, of course, I posted this, to share with my online friends. Many of you are writers and appreciate the satisfaction of writing and finishing. I think you, of all, will most understand, and have been quite supportive.

I suppose I’ll take a break today, and then return tomorrow, and start going through my notes to confirm that I’m not leaving something out there hanging. Then…well, we’ll see.

But, um, yeah, I guess I’m done writing like crazy for today.

Yeah.

A Writing Update

Short, simple, and sweet.

My writing progress on the novel in process, April Showers 1921, has been going well. It hasn’t been easy; I sweat over details, sentence placement, sentence length, descriptions, verbs…argh. I sweat over paragraphs, pages, and chapters, and the three Cs: clarity, coherence, and continuity.

It’s not easy, but it’s satisfying and rewarding. Going back over the work the next day in preparation to begin another writing session, I’m happy with what I’ve written and the shape that the story has assumed.

I sometimes speculate on when it’ll be done. I began writing it in January, 2019. I’m on my tenth draft. That means most days are spent editing and rewriting, with new bridge material, verisimilitude added, or scenes more carefully addressed. While I hold true to the original concept, I love the expansion of thought and understanding that accompanied the writing process.

So when will I be done? Well, I often shrug and say, who knows? Who cares? It’ll be done when it’s done. I’m surprised, too, that I don’t want to explain anything to anyone. I’m happy with what I have, and that’s good enough for me.

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

Boom

I was expecting another fast and furious writing session. That’s one of those times when the muses pile in, dictating so urgently that all you can do is type and hope to keep up.

After studying myself extensively, I know there’s a lot that I don’t know about myself. I know that my moods and energy levels cycle, though, and that I often go through a dark period that lasts about two days, where I become pessimistic, bitter, and angry. I also know that I go through a period of buoyancy as well, whenever, when the sky is the limit. It’s about being aware of those cycles and the peaks and troughs, and managing myself through them. And, I know that although I write almost every day, my writing energy also runs in cycles.

First, about writing almost every day. I try to write every day. It’s my intention and effort to go, order coffee, sit down, and write. I push hard to do it. Existence intervenes. Doctor’s appointments, social engagements, holidays, family obligations and other things all provide obstacles. I try to work around them, but sometimes, I fail.

I used to hate it when I failed to write. Part of the hate was the fear that, if I don’t write every day, I’ll lose whatever meager skills I’ve acquired. Now, either because I mock my skill level or whatever, that fear is much less. It might take a little more time and thought to encourage the muses to arrive after a long writing break, but they generally do come in. I’ve become more familiar with their ways and the signals they give off when they approach. I’m a bit better at letting them in.

By the way, the longest break from writing every day this year is four days.

Because I think about myself in general and my writing often, trying to make sense out of who I am, what affects me, and how it affects me (especially given how my body has changed through the years), I know about the cycles. So I was ready for an energetic writing session to strike.

One point about that, though, gives me pause: do I make the writing cycle happen out of expectations and investing more in myself, and extending a greater effort, or does it actually come about on its own?

I’m not positive, but I believe that like many things, there’s a bit of both in it, and that what’s true one time is probably not true the next time.

Today, though, was an exciting and intense writing session, sweeping me out of here and deeply into the imaginary existence that I’m writing about. It was one of those sessions that are so fantastic, they’re addictive, because it encourages hope that this can happen every day. That’s not how highs work, though.

There are some drawbacks. First, didn’t drink my coffee. A third of it is gone, but that’s all. Small price, right?

Two, I’m suffering from writer’s butt. My Fitbit reminded me to get up and walk each hour. I said, “Okay, in a minute. Just let me finish this sentence.” Next thing I know, ten minutes and several hundred words have passed. Oh, well.

Good day of writing like crazy. Time to go on and address other aspects of life and living, like, you know, eating. Cheers.

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