Monday, September 13, 2010

A conversation with my muse


No, I've not found gainful employment, but it's an ill-wind that blows no good. I have instead experienced productive un-employment.

Last week, I managed to turn an episode of insomnia into the final, successful push to creating two new or newly refurbished chapters in my current WIP. It was a particularly rough battle, as I had to take the old chapter's direction and turn it 180 degrees -- which is about as easy as doing the same with an oil tanker headed for an iceberg.

After I'd managed to rewrite the old chapter, I knew I needed to create a brand new chapter. The chapter is a critical one, where the heroine has to come to the realization that she's a whiny brat who has been dancing around a problem -- and yet, that realization couldn't be full-blown. It is supposed to be a turn in the right direction, but just that: a turn.

But I kept finding a million other things to do. I'd tell myself I needed to hunt down that gainful employment. Or wash another Mt. Everest of dirty clothes. Or save money by baking my own bread. Or cut my toenails.

Uh, yeah. It finally occurred to me, just before I reached for the toothbrush and the Tilex to start scrubbing my bathroom floor's grout again, that I was procrastinating. And the reason I was procrastinating was because I was afraid.

Afraid of what? you might ask.

Well, for one thing, afraid I couldn't pull off this miracle. Do you ever have moments like that? When you're afraid your characters have way too much growth ahead of them to get from Point A to Point B?

In the early, hazy, euphoric days of a Bright Shiny New Idea, everything looks so easy. I have these sorts of conversations with that Demon Muse in Stilettos and Feather Boa:

DMiS&FB: Yanno, ya might wanna think about how the lightbulb actually goes off for 'er. (Yeah, I know. My muse talks in a very thick Queens' accent, a la Fran Drescher. Come to think of it, she actually looks like Fran.)

Me: (waving my hand in a dismissive gesture) I've got it handled. Right now, I want to think about how the two first meet.

DMiS&FB: (tapping the pointy toe of her platform stiletto) Ya put it off, ya gonna be sorrr-ry.

Me: I'm not putting it off. I'm just not crossing bridges I haven't reached yet.

DMiS&FB: (popping a wad of chewing gum as she stares at me in disbelief.)

Me: What?!

DMiS&FB: Nuttin'.

Me: No, I know that look. C'mon. Say it.

DMiS&FB: (flicking her feather boa) Ya don't think about that lightbulb moment, ya won't have a bridge to cross.

Me: You're mixing your metaphors.

DMiS&FB: Hey, honey (she holds up her hands, palms outward, and then frowns in concern as she scrutinizes a possibly damaged fingernail. She beams in relief, then returns her attention to the matter at hand.) I'm no writer here. I'm just ya ordinary muse, albeit with spectacular fashion sense, which is more than I can say about you and your hot mess of a wardrobe. But if I can see there's a problem, there's a problem. And there's a problem.

Of course I didn't listen to her. I didn't listen to her until I got to the bridge and realized, "oh, bleepity-bleepity-bleep, she's right." I didn't tell her.

But she must have known, because the other morning, I woke up at 3 AM, couldn't go back to sleep, and at 4 AM, got up, hauled the laptop to the living room and began writing. I built that bridge word by word, while she looked over my shoulder and popped her gum enthusiastically.

She was, of course, in feather trimmed mules and silk jammies, while I was in a T shirt and yoga pants. While she's pleased with my progress on the writing front, she's still threatening to submit my name to WHAT NOT TO WEAR.


Matthew Rush said...

Sounds like great news. Good for you Cynthia!

Linda G. said...

LOL! I like your muse.

Patty Blount said...

*clears throat* And WHAT (she asks with hands on her Queens-raised hips) is so bad about a Queens accent???????

Don't answer that. I already know. (And I'm kidding.)

Great post. I feel this way often. "Hanging out" with the collective genius posting on Twitter frequently has me balancing on a very thin ledge between "I WILL NEVER BE THIS GOOD" and "LOOK, THEY'RE JUST LIKE ME SO IF THEY CAN DO IT, SO CAN I."

Jessica Lemmon said...

YES! I have been there... like, erm, a week ago... :-D

I love your muse too! Though I'd be tempted to take that gum out of her mouth and stick it into her perfectly coiffed hair (perhaps this is because I'm often in tee-shirts and yoga pants and nowhere near as glamorous as she...)

I have tried writing through those moments... and then after cutting/rewriting 20,000 words TWICE, I have come to the conclusion there is something to plotting after all.

Tawna Fenske said...

I sooooo want to go out for ladies' night drinks with your muse :)


Donna Hosie said...

Good luck with your new employment, Cynthia.

Cynthia Reese said...

Matt, thanks!

Linda G & Tawna, I just know that my muse could really paint the town red!

Patty, nothing is BAD about a muse with a Queens accent. It's just ODD that a southerner who's never been north of DC has a muse with a Queens accent! And yeah, you're more like the rest of us, and we're more like you!

Jessica, I firmly intend to do that the next time she's shaking an elegantly manicured nail in my face!

Donna, I just wish it came with health insurance!