The Romance Reviews

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dealing with a Demanding Muse

I ran away from the Muse for the better part of the day about two weeks ago. I pretty much said She can write whatever She wanted that day, but not to expect me to transcribe it any time soon. I then popped a movie into the DVD player of my lap top and watched The Searchers, again. I watched My Fair Lady. And, then, to make sure the Muse knew I was not speaking to Her, I watched parts of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. (Shut up, Muse…not going there, ever again.)

Not exactly how I see Her...
I was ignoring my Muse. I was trying to shut Her up. I was beyond infuriated with Her. She is a vile, evil creature and whatever depths of Hell spawned Her, they can take Her back. In case no one has noticed, I speak of that creative impulse as my Muse, and I often see Her as something to be revered and nurtured, but for several days, I did not seen Her in this light.

I’ve stated before that my Muse is a fickle Bitch. She will sometimes take a hiatus for as much as a year. Once time, She didn’t speak to me for almost two years. Usually, when She is on hiatus, She will leave a small creative spark with me, so the fire doesn’t go out, per se. The last two times She left, She took everything with Her. After I completed The Devil’s Own Desperado, She left. I had nothing—my creative self felt like an old, dried up corn husk, dead and withered.

Then, last year for NaNoWriMo, She breezed into my head again, and literally dropped a whole book into my lap. Or was it onto my head? It doesn’t matter—I had the whole story of Smolder on a Slow Burn in my head. I started writing and the words poured out of me. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, couldn’t do anything but write. If I tried to sleep, I saw the next scene playing out in my head, as if I was watching a movie. I had to get up and go write that scene. I swear the whole time I was writing, I could hear Her laughing at me. When I tried to sleep, if I didn’t get up and write that next scene, I was terrified the whole thing would be taken from me.

About a week later, I had a 200 plus page, more than 60K word rough draft completed. And, She was gone. Not even a “Back in a while” or a single postcard from the edge.

And then about a month ago, She was BAAAAAAACK! And, the Bitch did it to me again, dropped a whole novel onto my head. I got to know the confines of my office space very well. Only this time, what She gave me made me feel cheapened and used.

I argued with Her. Didn’t do a bit of good. I refused to write what She stuck in my head. Sleep became more elusive than unicorns and hen’s teeth. I tried drowning Her out with music on the iPod. She just kept surfacing through the music, as if it had been written specifically for what She wanted me to write.

Yeah, I wrote fan fiction starring this scoundrel
I gave up and I started writing. I wrote what She wanted me to write and the whole time I was trying to reason with Her that I DO NOT write fan fiction any more, and certainly not fan fiction with the requisite Mary Sue character. (Back when I was a teenager, I wrote a piece of fan fiction set in the Star Wars universe, and shortly after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out on DVD I did borrow Snape for a little while…I would like to think that in that AU world, I gave Snape a little more happiness than he'd ever really had in Ms. Rowling's universe.) Apparently, I still do write fan fiction. I will readily admit, there is some incredible fan fiction out there, and some of it is written better than the works they are created from. (Case in point would be the 50 Shades of Gray series, which started as fan fiction to Twilight.) I tried to argue with Her, even while I was writing, that I felt cheapened and used. And, She ignored me. (Surprise, surprise, surprise…)
And, fan fiction for this one, too. 

While checking Facebook while writing this thing, I found an article on one of the writing sites I follow that talked about the kinds of writers block and how to overcome them. One of the first ones talked about the well going dry, which is what I feel like every time my Muse goes away. The suggestion to bring back the creative fire—write fan fiction.

Say WHAT? (No, I just did NOT read that! I will not encourage that Bitch.)

Write fan fiction. (Does everyone see my head hitting my desk, repeatedly?) The thing with fan fiction is that it can force a writer outside of the comfort zone (staying in the comfort zone is another way to bring about writers block) and make the writer literally write differently. The world comes premade, with characters already there, with all their foibles, strengths, and idiosyncrasies. The challenge to the writer is to write that/those characters in character. If you’re going to write a scenario where Han Solo leaves Leia, it better be a damn good scenario, because even though he’s a bit rough around the edges, his loyalty to those he loves was proven again and again both in the movies and in the spin-off novels. (Oops…okay, I will claim when I wrote that piece of fan fiction, I was all of seventeen.)

And when I finally typed “the end” to this current piece of fan fiction, I realized that there are gems I can glean from this drivel my Muse and I created. Some of the scenes are gut wrenching (try almost killing the hero with a hand napped dagger), some are light-hearted, and some have created a private joke for me and a few of my friends when I told them what I was writing and those friends followed the story creation. Duct tape, anyone?

I still wanted to wring my Muse’s ethereal neck. However, this time, the piece of fan fiction was just the warm-up. I hadn’t been away from the fan-fiction for more than two days when She woke me up from a sound sleep and said, “Here’s what you need to do with that.”

 I’m stepping out of my comfort zone for the new WIP. It’s a contemporary romance. There aren’t any cowboys (well, as long as you don’t count a federal marshal who has the nickname “Cowboy”), no cattle, no one saddles up and rides into town, and the weapons are not carried in a holster tied down low (they’re actually in shoulder holsters).

I’m about 40K into this WIP and I’ve had a few black moments written into this one. The blackest moment is coming and I will admit I’m not looking forward to writing it. Again, I’m avoiding Her and the WIP. But, I can’t put it off any longer. I need to go double tap a villain and make a "happily ever after." That might be the real reason I'm avoiding Her. I'm not sure I want to let this couple go.


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