Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I was told there'd be a muse.

Yeah, I've heard of this "Muse". I've heard that she comes along like the sandman or the blue fairy and brings something with her that makes writing happen.



So I'm returning my writer's pack to the manufacturer because I've checked everywhere, turned it upside down and shaken it hard.  No Muse.

What I've got is a bum to put in the chair and ten fingers to put on the keyboard.  Okay, eight fingers - who types on a QWERTY keyboard with their thumbs? Actually, now I'm watching myself type - it's four.

Put it another way: The Muse strikes me in my office at 9am Monday to Friday for ten weeks until the first draft is done. Or if she doesn't - if houseguests or holidays turn up in her place, or some crummy bit of life gets badly in the way - then she strikes me seven days a week, morning, noon and night, in my office, kitchen, sitting up in bed, in coffeeshops, on planes, in convention hotels while my friends are down in the bar laughing and enjoying life . . . you get the picture.

Sometimes, though, just sometimes, I know what people are talking about. Sometimes, bum in chair and four fingers flying, I can feel the story unfurling in front of me like a bolt of silk. I see all the connections, all the strands to be woven together, all the little hooks and twists to be caught on. Characters tell me their secrets, settings reveal all their hidden corners and writing is a joy.

When that happens I write my guts out, making the most of it, and walk away - crawl away more like - thinking that I've cracked this book lark at last. The next day, I bounce back to my desk and . . . it's a day like today was. Who are these people? What's happening? Why are they in a florist's shop? How can this be my life?

So I wrote my 2000 words and it'll be better tomorrow. Because, even if it's like shovelling concrete while it sets, I'm nearer the end. Museless as ever.

5 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Catriona, Hope you got your money back for your defective writer's pack and also that you didn't have to pay return shipping. :)

RJ Harlick said...

Beautifully put, Catriona and oh so true.

Meredith Cole said...

Catriona-
Love this: "I can feel the story unfurling in front of me like a bolt of silk." Isn't that terrific when it happens?

Art Taylor said...

I had a writing teacher once who I greatly respected. At a conference, someone in the audience asked her, "What do you do when the muse just isn't there?" And I expected this teacher to just scoff at the idea. But instead she said, "Well, it's true that sometimes the muse just isn't with you," and then added, "But I show up at my desk for many hours each day just so she'll know where to find me."

Barry Knister said...

Catriona--
What you so effectively describe as an unfurling bolt of silk happened to me just once. But it was a long bolt, and lasted for two weeks. I was alone in a small house in Florida, during hurricane season. Storms kept coming and going, some thunder claps were so powerful they rattled pictures off the walls. I had to keep unplugging my laptop for lightning strikes. But when the air cleared after two weeks, I had the rough draft for my dog novel, Just Bill. All I could feel was gratitude.