Monday, April 21, 2014

Where Are You, Sharon Stone?

Where does the writing muse strike you?

Where, indeed. In fact, some days the questions really are “Where the hell is the muse? What does she look like? Have I done something to offend her?”

In my former professional life, I was used to writing because I had to, because someone was waiting for the result, that someone most frequently being the president of whatever university I was working for or with. No muse required, just my experience, ideas, and a degree of persuasive language. I was paid for this. Before those days, I was a reporter and that was easier still without a muse. The paper went to press on a certain day or hour. No fooling around.

My first book was written with no contract, no editor, no agent, only my excitement and the self-issued challenge: Write the damn book or stop talking about it. I was the muse. It worked. The second was under contract and I was thrilled to be looking at a series. The story’s genesis was close to my interests and passions, and the muse stayed with me even if some days were hard, when the words didn’t come smoothly. I finished the third in the series a while ago, also under contract, but after some disheartening glitches in distribution for the second, my internal cheerleader seemed to throw up her hands, and start taking too many vacation days. It was a slog to get through revisions. Is it something about the third book in general that’s harder? I’d love to know what my Criminal Minds colleagues think.

So where does the muse strike? When she deigns to drop in these days (I always picture her as Sharon Stone, Albert Brooks’ goddess, the charming one who liked little blue Tiffany’s boxes and take out food), it’s completely unpredictable. I might already be at the keyboard writing a scene, or I might be driving to San Francisco, or vacuum cleaning or gardening…she keeps me on my toes and I make sure I always have a way to jot down the idea she slips me before it drifts off. I’m trying out a new series idea, working on a stand-alone, and preparing the third Dani O’Rourke for publication later this year. It’s good, but there’s a lot less magic and calling forth mythic helpers these days.

I am looking forward to being inspired by other Criminal Minds authors who are still experiencing the excitement, the sprinkling of magic dust from their muses. Maybe I can wangle an introduction to their Sharon Stone for a few weeks!



Paul D. Marks said...

As you say, Susan, the muse can strike anywhere, so it's a good idea to keep something around to write down ideas on no matter where you might be.

Meredith Cole said...

I've found that the best way to get a great idea is to spend some time doing nothing. Walking and thinking in nature is the best for me... Perhaps I should invite Sharon to join me...

RJ Harlick said...

I'll join you too, Meredith. I do find going for a long walk with my dogs will help sort out the log jam. I also find hashing out my plot or character problems with someone also helps. When I'm starting a new book and have decided on a theme, any related research proves invaluable in providing ideas for the plot and characters. Good luck, Susan.

Susan C Shea said...

Thanks, all. Hashing it out with someone would be great about now. My cats appear to be good listeners, but don't have much constructive criticism to offer!