Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Kicking drafts and taking names #amrevising #amwriting


Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I’m trying to pry dirt from under my fingernails, so of course I run into the door to my writing office before I turn the knob. Damn. It’s a good thing I was distracted, because the moment I open the door the odor of fried food and stale beer, like the kind you can’t get out of your clothes after watching the game at a sports bar (I know, it’s been a while, but you still remember, right?), wafts past me. Part of me wants to turn around and go back to weeding, but I resist.

Yeah, I probably should have listened to that part.

“I understand a ‘Job Well Done’ is in order, love.” My Muse is standing in front of the whiteboard covering one wall of my office. His fried food cologne must be emanating from the rugby jersey he’s wearing. His khaki cargo shorts have a stain on one thigh I hesitate to identify. Deck shoes complete his ensemble. No socks. Nice calves.

“Where have you been?”

He adds a note to the homework criteria I wrote on the board. “Things are opening up. Outdoor seating, and now some indoor seating, but the weather’s too nice to be inside.”

“So, you and Mr. E went on a pub crawl. If you were sitting outside, why do you smell like a sports bar?”

He adds another note. “Do you know fryers smoke? Even outdoors.”

I swallow a snarky comment about fryers and Camels or Marlboros. “Let me guess. You and Mr. E sat downwind. Didn’t think to move?”

He hit me with his brilliant blue eyes, a brow arched. “You make it sound like there was somewhere else to sit. It was like everyone was coming out of hibernation. We had to wait in line at a couple places.”

That sounds about right. “I can’t believe you had to sit downwind of the fryer at every bar you hit.”

“Well, there was one where they didn’t set up the fryers outside.” He adds one more note, then snaps the cover on the dry-erase marker. “Well done, love. You finished your first round of revision.”

I stand beside him in front of the board. “Um, thanks, I guess.”

“You sound disappointed.”

“I wasn’t, until I dug into my homework assignment.” Plotting. This assignment, my last for the class, looks at the story plot points. I’ve been feeling a major lack of satisfaction with the story, even after I figured out the plot to begin with. When I dug into my homework, I realized why. “I need to adjust the plot. Like, a significant change.”

My Muse swaps the marker in his hand for a different color, and adds another note. “That’s a good thing. You found the problem now, rather than two revisions from now.”

“You could have said something earlier, like before I finished the first draft–correction, finished the first draft after seven false starts. Maybe I would have gotten through it faster. Like after only five false starts.”

He rests an arm around my shoulders. The smell of French fries assaults my nose. “You forget one thing, love.”

“What’s that?”

“You don’t always listen to me.” Before I can respond, he continues. “Besides, you got to feel like you accomplished something by finishing the first round of revision. There’s a lot to be said about feeling like you’ve made progress. It’s important for all writers, but especially for one who tossed out seven partially-finished first drafts.”

“So, you didn’t hammer me with the revelation until I finished the first revision? Do you know how much further I’d be if I’d figured this out sooner?” I’m so glad I’m taking this class, because I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to see the glaring weak spot otherwise.

“How much have you learned because you analyzed the plot for your homework?” He tosses the marker onto the sill of the board. “You know the story will be stronger because of it.” He squeezes my shoulders, then heads to the mini-fridge and pulls out a brewski. He points the bottle at me then the board before twisting off the cap and slinging it into the trash. “Get your homework finished so we can work on that other story. I have a few ideas.”

I’m sure you do. He’s right, I can see the places where the plot needs work, which is part of the process. I do find it frustrating to get through one round of revision before I have that head-slapping “DUH!” moment.

Come to think of it, I’ve had a lot of those “DUH!” moments with this story. Sheesh.

Now that I’m done with my first round of revision, once I finish my homework, I’ll move on to a different story for a few weeks to let Book 2 rest. After this class, I have one more to take to get my second badge and move one step closer to my writing certificate.

How is your writing coming along? Enjoy this last week of Spring before the solstice next week!

Zoey on retaining wall

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have 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. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, six 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.

27 thoughts on “Kicking drafts and taking names #amrevising #amwriting

  1. You know, fryer smell or not, your Muse does have a point about the value of drafting. You do feel that you’ve accomplished something, Julie – at least I do. And for me, anyway, it’s often not until I see the draft right in front of me that I can really see what needs to be done, if that makes sense. It takes longer to write when you use a draft-and-revise strategy, but I really think it’s worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Margot! Draft and revise might take longer, but like you, I can see issues more easily. In this case, I think my class had a LOT to do with finding the plot issue earlier rather than later. And each revision feels like an accomplishment!

      Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. America is coming back to life, Julie. That is good to hear. Sounds like you are getting on fabulously with your new book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I could smell the old barroom/pub but for me it was stale cigarette smoke! I’m sure glad that’s over.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, those head-slapping “DUH!” moments, I get those way too often. But I guess there’s nothing to do but adjust things and keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So nice your muse is keeping you on your toes. Even if he sat on the wrong side of the fryer. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t believe the solstice is next week, and I love how you always inform us of these things. But seriously, why is it so early? It still befuddles me that the days start getting shorter at the beginning of summer and not the end. I can’t reconcile that in my brain.
    At least you’re finding those “Duh” moments now rather than later. Of course, each time you experience that, you can say the same thing, no matter how late in the game it is. πŸ˜‰
    Thank you for making french fries sound terrible. I’m going to remember this post the next time I have an unhealthy craving. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I had a craving for real french fries when I wrote this, not the boring oven-baked ones πŸ˜€

      I know, right! I think the days should keep getting longer until July, at least. Then when August hits, start getting shorter.

      And the kitty! Soo cute! Are you sure it’s not yours? I mean, it could be, right? If you leave your doors open, you’d have three or four cats roaming around. I know! You could start a “cat cuddler” business. Cats can come to you when they need more cuddling πŸ˜€

      Have a wonderful week, Betsy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do sometimes step outside for some cat therapy, but it’s not that I need to find the cats. When I walk outside, they find me.

        If only I could get paid to cuddle cats… That kitten belongs to my niece, sadly. She would notice if I smuggled it out under my shirt.


  7. And now a message for Zoey: Meow, my la petite kitty! Meow meow. πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And p.p.s. Love the post title!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You would think two muses could figure out on what side of the fryer to sit! Given I’ve taken up jogging E knows he shouldn’t come around me smelling like French Fries, but does he remember? Eesh, it’s a good thing he just helped me wrap a short story, so of course, he’s forgiven, LOL.

    Those Duh moments are killers, but we all have them. I think every now and then we must be due. πŸ™‚

    Way to go on getting closer to your writing certificate. It sounds like you have really benefitted from your courses. Wishing you happy writing.

    P.S… Raven thinks Zoey is experiencing Cat Nirvana in that pose! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’d think. Then again, I wonder if they do some of that stuff on purpose, just to bug us πŸ™‚ Hey, high-five that you’ve taken up jogging! I need to find a better place to jog; our gravel road is fine until the neighbors decide it’s rush hour. Pickups and grain trucks and huge tractors don’t mix well with a dusty road when jogging.

      LOL! Zoey might have found some catnip somewhere in the yard. Or catmint.

      Have a wonderful writing week, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You must have been working in your garden, Julie. Congrats on figuring out the plot problem. And yes better now than later. Keep going and Happy Writing. Be well… and be careful at the pub crawls.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Too bad you didn’t get some samples from the fryers. Its hard to get to the duh moments until that first draft is done and sometimes it even takes longer or it does for me. I need some distance to find them. Have a great week:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Every so often I get a craving for some good restaurant fries (preferably the seasoned ones πŸ™‚ ) And I hear ya about taking until the end of the first draft or longer. Seems like longer for me (after the first revision). And distance is good!

      Happy Writing, Denise!

      Liked by 1 person

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