Sunday, November 29, 2009

Museo, Museo, Where Art Thou?

Some people have told me they are writers, and in the very next breath, they bemoan that the muse hasn't been with them lately, and they haven't been able to write more than a few words. According to them, words don't flow if the muse isn't present.

Other writers – usually those who actually have deadlines – have told me they write whether or not the muse is present. According to them, if a person really wants to be a writer, they have to rely on their own skills and knowledge of the craft, not the presence of some mythical muse.

As always, I'm somewhere in the middle. I love it when 'the muse' is present and the words flow effortlessly, filling up page after page while I completely ignore the clock. It's wonderful. I've spent entire nights with that muse, been surprised when my husband walked in to go to work the next morning. Doesn't happen often, and I know I can't rely on it being there when I have time to write. So I don't.

Writing without the muse's cooperation can be difficult. I've had days when I couldn't get more than a dozen words written. Long stretches of time when all I could do was ponder what the next scene should be, or the next character's action, or even the next word in the half-written sentence on my screen.

That's one reason why I work on more than one project at a time. If I've reached a difficult point in one project, then I'll take a day or two to mull over my options. I don't just stop writing, though. I move on to the next project, which has been 'simmering' in the back of my mind. Hopefully, things with that project have sorted themselves out into something I can write down.

I also try to set my own deadlines. James Gardner once told me he puts his characters in a pickle, and then he turns up the heat. That's kind of what I'm doing to myself, I guess. If I want a story ready for a contest by the end of next month, I can't spend a lot days looking for a fickle muse.

If you're trying to write, and the muse just isn't sitting at your elbow, guiding the way, try something new; start without him.

See ya next week. Trudy

No comments:

Post a Comment