Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

New Year, absent writer?


Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay


My voice echoes in the dimness like a shout in the Sydney Opera House. Faded light from the foggy winter landscape outside strains to illuminate my writer’s empty office. I flip a switch. The dim retreats.


Where the bloody hell is she? Since NaNo, she’s been writing every day, especially over the holidays. That is, until this week. I can hear her reasoning now: I took the whole week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day, plus the weekends, and we didn’t go anywhere because COVID. Now I’m back to work, so no, I’m not writing as much as I did the past couple weeks.

If she was here, I’d tell her she needs to write every day whether she’s on vacation or not. Once her vacation was over, her writing dropped off a cliff. Not a cliffhanger cliff, a writing cliff. And now she’s AWOL.

“Julie? Don’t make me send out the dragons.”

No answer.

Sigh. Her desk is empty. Messy, but empty. The recliners are empty. I check the little fridge. That’s empty, too? The wall-sized white board is not empty, thank goodness. Notes cover the surface in various colors. At least I know she’s planning to come back.

I open the back door of the office. Icy fog coats the naked trees in frost and filters the sunlight into a dull glow.

Bootprints lead from the office into the fog. “Julie!” Damn it.

What? You thought we come and go at our writer’s whim? You think writers have a little bell they ring to call up a muse every time they sit down to write? Ha! We know writers work better when they open themselves to us, not when they sit down and ask us to shove creative energy into them. Although that can work, we usually save that as a backup plan.

In my vast store of experience (and no, I’m not going to tell you how long I’ve been doing this gig), we get the best results when we hang out around our writer all the time. Not that we don’t take a break for a pub crawl or surf outing, but we’re like the cat that shows up wherever you are, too damn tenacious to shake.

A figure appears in the fog, trudging toward me. About fecking time. “Where have you been, love?”

She blows out a cloudy breath. “I have shit to do, and it’s cramping my writing time. And focus. And I haven’t even gotten to the cleaning. I needed to walk.”

“What shit to do?” I ask, challenging her. I know exactly what she’s doing. Procrasinating. Happens every time she goes back to work after a long vacation, even when she works from home.

She narrows her eyes before she rolls them. “You really need me to list the stuff?” She shoves past me into the office. “Which reminds me, I need to make a list.”

“There’s a list on the board, love.”

“A new list. One that includes redoing my website, catching up with blog reading–I’m so freaking far behind, and taxes. Gotta pay sales tax for the three books I sold last year. Sheesh. I’ll be glad when we can do in-person events again. This virtual stuff doesn’t foster that connection between writer and reader.”

“And the novella is on that list, right?” I ask. “Along with the editing of your police procedural and finishing the first draft of the rural mystery?”

She toes her boots loose and flips them off. “Yeah, but first Book 2. And damn it, I can’t fricking focus anymore.” She shuffles to the fridge.

“It’s empty. I checked.”

She sighs. “You know, this year at work we have to use up all our vacation by the end of the year, since we’ll be starting on our new parent company’s self-managed time off scheme next year. I think I’m going to spend some time at that little place with the cabins up toward Lake Mille Lacs. All by myself.”


Another eye roll. “Gawd. You know what I mean. A whole week of nothing but you and me and writing. No TV, no garden, no work, no cleaning, no anything except writing. In the woods.”

“Sounds nice, love. Any pubs nearby?”

She groans. Or growls. I can’t tell. “I’ll be back.” She swings the office door open. “I’m going to get some water. And I need some help coming up with a good short story to submit. Maybe a ghost story. Has to be a mystery.” She leaves.

I think I’ll pop out to hunt down some nice lager. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

Hey all, sorry I’ve been quiet; been trying to focus on writing and staying away from social media and news as much as possible. News bums me out (although I feel more hopeful now that Jan 20 is closer), and since hubs is a news junkie and has to have the TV on incessantly, I’ve been struggling a bit. On the bright side, weather’s been nice, so I’ve been walking. It’s great! Don’t knock the power of a good walk outside, preferably in the embrace of nature.

Happy Writing!

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, three 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.

12 thoughts on “New Year, absent writer?

  1. I don’t blame you one bit, Julie, for staying away from the news right now. Let’s hope everything settles out soon. It really does make it hard to concentrate on writing, doesn’t it? Well, your Muse will have to be understanding as you balance all the things you have to do and your news-overload. You’ll get back to focusing on your writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right, that all the news stuff is detrimental to focus. Especially since hubs is a bit of a news junkie (hours a day!) It’s been mild here so far this winter, so I have been taking advantage of it. A walk really helps to clear the head!

      Enjoy the rest of your week, Margot!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hiya! It feels like FOREVER since I visited your blog. I’ve been offline for two full months (NaNo and a business move), but I managed to finish my WIP, and I’m re-energized for 2021. Mr. E. came through and has planted new ideas in my head. Now I just have to figure out how to find more hours, LOL.

    As for news—I take it in very small doses. Enough to keep abreast, but not enough to make me sick to the stomach 😦

    This was a fun post, Julie–and Julie’s muse 🙂

    Wishing you a ton of writing successes. Did you “win” NaNoWriMo? I didn’t, but added 35K to my WIP, then finished it in December.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mae! No worries, I’ve been trying to avoid the time-sucks of FB, etc. Needless to say, I’m super far behind in my blog-reading. I did “win” NaNo, and worked on that project until the end of the year (just as I was really getting going, too!) Now I’m working on the third round of revision of Book 2, finding holes and tweaking the plot.

      Wishing you a ton of writing time (because at least one of us should be writing a ton, right? 😀 )

      Enjoy the rest of your week, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh! Julie! Take me to the cabin WITH YOUUUUUUUU!!!!! Need to do some edits for an R & R. Although, I’m with the Muse. Gotta get some beer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I keep looking at their website and trying to decide when I want to go. June? July? May? Check out Shireinthewoods.com
      I’m open to a mini-writing retreat 😀

      And yes, gotta get some brewskis, but I’m not going to WI to get any Moon Man; no one wears masks over there. My brother lives near the border between MN and WI. He says in MN, people distance and wear masks. In WI, no one distances or wears masks. Might have to send the Muse on a run 😀

      Enjoy the rest of your week, Betsy!


  4. It’s nice to take some take for ourselves. Glad you did that. Yes, the news has been hard to watch, I agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ack, the news. Wouldn’t be quite so bad if hubs wasn’t a news junkie. Hopefully things will quiet down next week.

      It’s been so nice here, a mild winter so far, so I’ve been compelled to walk to enjoy it!

      Enjoy the rest of your week, Denise!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So far 2021 doesn’t seem much better than 2020, though there’s hope in the future. I don’t blame you for turning off the news. Focusing on writing is good. Enjoy, enter the zone, and take all the time you need.

    Liked by 1 person

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