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.
Well, I’m up the creek. No, it’s not a creek, but a river as wide and powerful as the Amazon or Mississippi Rivers.
It’s all about writing, of course. I’ve used many metaphors to explore and explain my writing ventures, progress, and process. All of them, despite being disparate, are correct and accurate. My writing processes changes as I go through different phases of conception, imagining, creating, writing, editing, and introspection.
Paddling on a broad river seems the correct metaphor, simile, or analogy for now. I have a firm idea of where I’m going, yet currents attempt to pull me into different directions. Swirling eddies trap me with bursts of vacillation about which way to paddle. Right now, the river of words and ideas are bright and shiny. Sometimes, though, the sun goes down. Moonlight and starlight might help then, but sometimes, I’m alone out there, lost in darkness, on the river alone.
Muses often help me out, throwing lines, shouting directions and encouragement. So does the habit I have now of reading interviews with published authors in my quest for a quote. Many of those writers have tales of being out to sea, up in the air, trudging through a hot, dusty desert, or locked in solitary confinement. They write about writing for themselves for years, sometimes being published but with little to speak of in the ways of sales or recognition. They continued writing because they’d discovered the joy of writing for themselves.
Then, suddenly, bang, an agent signs them. A publisher publishers one of their novels. A rave review punches through the public’s consciousness. An actor, director, producer, studio head, whatever, reads their novel, buys the rights and makes it into a movie. Overnight, they’re a sensation after years of writing for themselves.
The joy of writing for myself can’t be overstated. I’m on a river now because while there’s sounds and sensations, I’m mostly in solitude, communicating with my muses about where I’m at, what I don’t like, and what I do enjoy. I’m going with a flow. Although it might not seem like it from everything else written above, it feels like a process flowing with quiet confidence and satisfaction.
Your results and processes are probably different, of course. Or perhaps they’re the same, or you see some nugget of yourself in the now of your existence, doing similar to what I’m doing. No matter how your process works or changes, I wish you well on it.
The coffee is gone. Time to pack up and head out for a sweaty walk in the hot sunshine. It’s been an excellent day of writing like crazy.