Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Changing direction


I move another publisher to the Pass list on the whiteboard in my writing office, transfer most of the publishers on the Active to the Inactive one per my agent, and add the latest three publishers to the Active roster before I return to my desk.

I’ve made up my mind. I close the document I’ve been staring at for the past, gads, a long while. I’ve got my first twenty pages about ready to send around to my writing sisters before our reunion, but I’ve been spinning my wheels on that story for a while now. Probably far too long.Β st-paul-saints-logo

The door to my writing office swings open. My Muse shakes his head and nudges the door closed behind him. He’s wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey with a St. Paul Saints hat, and faded jeans with a suspicious mustard-colored stain on one leg. “What are you doing, love?”

twins-logoSomehow his Australian accent clashes with the baseball theme he’s got going. “Trying to write.” I think it is mustard. “Who’d you go out to the ball game with this time?”

“Casey Jones.”

“Pfft. Yeah, right.”

He settles on the corner of my desk. I can smell the stale beer now. And there’s another stain, this one an unnatural orange only seen in artificial cheese sauces. “I mean, what are you doing?” He turns my computer towards him. “I thought you said you were writing. I don’t see any writing going on.”

“There hasn’t been any writing going on for a while now, of which you are fully aware.” I open another document, this one a small-town mystery I set aside when I decided to start the book to follow the one my agent is shopping. “So, I’m shifting gears.”

He lifts his hat, scratches disheveled hair that needs a trim, then settles the ball cap again. He stands. “C’mon.”

“What do you mean, ‘come on’?”

He sighs, waves his hand in a “follow me” gesture, and crosses the office to the back door. “Just what I said.” The view outside the windows shifts to a thick temperate forest complete with wildflowers brightening the undergrowth. “You coming?”

Sure. It’s not like I’m busy trying to write or anything. I follow my Muse through a clearing to the rock-strewn shore of a lake surrounded by the dense forest. Two Adirondack chairs are planted side-by-side in a sandy section of the shoreline out of the reach of gentle waves. There’s not enough sand to call it a nice beach, but just enough to allow wading into the water.

7a5181b6b751442d0864fa6d969db94aHe drops into one of the chairs and leans back, hands behind his head, long legs stretched out in front of him. I settle into the other chair. I’m starting to think this might be some sort of sneaky Muse trick.

“No, it’s not a trick. And trust me, love, if I wanted to be sneaky, you’d never see it coming.”

I hate it when he does that. “So glad my private thoughts are up for grabs. Stop it.”

He chuckles and offers a charming lopsided grin. “You know I won’t. You’re just too damn entertaining.”

“Glad you’re enjoying yourself,” I grumble. “Why are we out here?”

“You need to figure out what you’re going to do. You need 20 pages to send to your writing sisters. The question is, what project are you going to focus on?”

I slump back in the chair. “I’m going back to the small-town mystery.”

“But?” he prompts.

Arrgh. “But I’ve been thinking about doing some flash fiction or short stories.”

“Pick one or the other, love. Your book or shorts.”

“Other writers can work on a novel and a short story at the same time.”

He picks up a small stone and tosses it into the lake. Concentric circles ripple across the smooth surface. “Other writers who do that don’t have a full-time job, a big vegetable garden, and kids at home for the summer. Or a lack of focus.” With the last, he pokes my temple with a finger to emphasize each word. “You, on the other hand, have all of the above, with a big gold star for the last one.”

“Who did you really go to the game with? Gandhi? Sun Tzu? Jung? You’re getting a little philosophical. It’s kinda scary.”

“Would you rather have the Indiana Jones fedora and bullwhip? I can still go there.”indianna-jones-hat-whip

Hmm. He looks damn good as an adventuring archaeologist.

“I heard that, love. I’m flattered.”

“Stop eavesdropping.”

“Comes with the job.” He stands, hands on hips. “Stand up.”

I consider ignoring him, but I decide to acquiesce to his request (can you tell I’ve recently watched Pirates of the Caribbean?). I stand.

He points to his face. “Look here.”

No reason to refuse that one. I comply, noting his 5 o’clock shadow.

“Focus.” He lifts a finger between us. “Right here.”

I’d much rather focus on something more interesting, like that dimple in his cheek.

“And that’s why you’re having trouble.” He grabs my shoulder and squeezes. Hard. “You will sit at your desk and write.” He pushes me ahead of him toward the office. “I’m going to block the wireless signal until you get your twenty pages figured out. No internet, no research, no email.”


“‘But’ nothing, love. I’m trying nice but firm. And I’ve got some Moon Man and Ghirardelli chocolate for you when you’ve gotten that finished.”

“Are you bribing me?”


I’ve got until next weekend to get my twenty pages dusted off and polished up before I have to send them off to the group. And my Muse is right, I’m having a hell of a time focusing lately. Maybe that was because of my uncertainty with the new project. Anyway, back to an old “new” project.

Have a great weekend, stay cool, and WRITE!


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, two 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.

11 thoughts on “Changing direction

  1. Fun post. What a nice, understanding muse. Not once did he snap at you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The traditional publishing route is really tough, Julie. My experience was that I couldn’t feel “done” with my book since I knew a publisher would probably require rewrites. It was hard to move on to something new because something new would need my undivided absorption, and I was snared in the waiting game. I hope you find a way to wait and move on simultaneously! Just keep writing πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Diana! I know it’s a long, drawn-out process for trad pub, but I figure I can put energy toward a new story (or revisit an as-yet unpolished one) while I wait. I started on the book to follow my ms, but at this point my energy is best put toward a whole different story. I love to bury myself in a project, but this time of year makes it tough, you know, with weeds, and veggies, and weeds πŸ˜€ I’m trying, though. I’m going to get focused. Really. I mean it this time πŸ˜€

      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie, you really make me laugh as you tell the stories of your multi talented muse and yourself.
    You really are having fun, aren’t you?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Your muse has it all down and knows just needs to be said and when.

    I’ve been slacking lately too (probably because Mr. E. has doing promo for A Desolate Hour). Like you, I keep feeling a call to short micro fic, but can’t seem to find the time in the day with a full-time job, a kitchen remodel (the latest project) and a looming September deadline. I just know you are going to be fully energized when you do finalize your project for the Writing Sisters and get to enjoy that wondrous writing retreat. And a new (old) project sounds intriguing. I like small town mysteries!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that’s right, I forgot about your remodeling project. I’m getting some steam going, so I should be able to get my twenty pages done. And I can’t wait until A Desolate Hour comes out and I get to find out what happens to the Mothman! As for short fic, I’m still tossing the idea around; I’ll need to dig out my idea page from years ago when I was writing short fic.

      Have a great week, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. your muse remind me of what i read Nora Roberts say… I quote here: “don’t wait for the muse to land on your shoulder” or something to that extent. i took that to heart, and when i’m particularly stuck in a scene, i either edit previous chapters, read a book , or i bake. guess what? It works!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I try to remember not to wait for my Muse to show up, because sometimes I’d be waiting a while. I like to take walks or work in the garden, too, besides reading or editing earlier scenes. Sometimes I free-write to get the creative energies going. Thanks for stopping by, Jina!

      Liked by 1 person

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