Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

A Day Late for a White Christmas

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How was your holiday celebration? Or multiple celebrations, as is the case for most of us who have multiple families–the immediate family, the in-laws, the extended family? Here in MN we had our first brown Christmas in four or five years. Then yesterday, the day after Christmas, we got our requisite inch of snow after sunset. Had it fallen a day earlier, it would have given us a White Christmas (Do you hear that? I can’t help hearing Bing Crosby every time I hear those words.) Seems the old man decided to make up for being late by giving us not only the inch we needed to qualify as a white Christmas, but an extra three inches overnight.

Gee, thanks, Winter. You could’ve stopped at an inch. Or two. After last winter, I’m good with a mild one. And we’re getting our January weather this week, close enough to January to qualify. I was good with above-freezing temps. Really.

The snow is still falling, and is a great muse. There’s something about the fluffy stuff, something about seeing fresh, unmarred snow coating the brown grass. The world suddenly feels cleaner because all the brown is hidden beneath a pristine cover. If you’ve ever stood outside in falling snow, when there’s already a couple inches on the ground, and just listened, the world even sounds cleaner. The snow dampens noise, so everything sounds hushed.

The weekend is here, and I’ve got my snow muse to help me through a dry spell. I’ve also been reading one of my practice projects to charge up my Muse. He’s hanging out with me now, after a week on a tropical walkabout (even though it was mild here). Time to fire up the revision engine for one of my first drafts.

Year’s end is coming. You’ve got a few days left; are you making your list of “resolutions” for next year? I don’t thing resolutions really count. They don’t. I think we use the wrong word when it comes to the new year and the list of things we want to do. We need to use the word “goal”. Or “target”. Give yourself something to work toward, a finish line, rather than an ambiguous state of mind or body. Isn’t that what we do when we write? Be more specific?

Writing instructors will tell you to be more specific, so the reader forms a more realistic image of the story? Don’t say “car” when you can say “late-model sedan” or “2000-era Corvette”. Don’t say “flowers”, say “roses”  or “tulips”. So why not be more specific when it comes to the ever-popular New Year’s resolution? It’s a goal. My personal one is running. I’ve never been a distance runner (okay, unless you consider a mile “distance”). I’m not resolving to become a better runner or run farther. I’m setting a goal to be able to run a 5k race by the end of 2015. I’ll work up from there.

So what’s your goal for the coming year? To finish the novel that’s been burning a hole in the drawer for the past decade? Sometimes it’s easier to write the ending first, especially if you’ve had the beginning written for years. Try this: Write the ending by Easter. Write three scenes leading up to the ending by July. Write the middle scenes by Labor Day. Do one full beginning to end revision by Christmas. If it helps, break it down into even smaller goals: final scene by Jan 31, climax by Mar 15, one scene leading to the story climax by Apr 30. You get the picture.

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Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, four chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

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