Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Mired

An empty writing office. Computer is on, but no one’s home. My writer’s gone AWOL.

Again.

Sigh.

The back door is open to the lake–big surprise. I expect to see Julie sulking in one of the Andirondack chairs. Instead, I see a sofa-sized book smack dab in the middle of a metallic green bulk.

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Bloody hell.

By the time I reach the shoreline, the scaly bulk shifts. A wedge-shaped head at the end of serpentine neck lifts and pegs me with red eyes that remind me of that robot movie starring the Austrian bodybuilder. Great action, so-so acting.

The dragon huffs at me.

“What?” Figures this thing would be a smart ass just like her conscience.

My writer peeks around the beast’s shoulder. “Go away.” She disappears behind it. A loud ploop, and ripples roll across the smooth surface of the lake.

“What the hell are you doing, love?” That damn dragon watches me like I might be a nice snack. I’d like to see it try. Wouldn’t be the first one. I think my writer’s Night Fury conscience has learned its lesson. There’s a reason I’m a Muse with a capital M. “You’re supposed to be in the office. Writing.”

Silence.

I make my way around the dragon, not bothering to stay out of reach. If it wants a fight, I’ll give it a fight. Julie is sitting on the ground, leaning between the beast’s shoulder and the book in its middle. Looks uncomfortable to me. “Why aren’t you writing?”

“Can’t.”

Uh-huh. Excuses. “Get up.”

She rolls her eyes in my direction. “Go away.”

“That’s not going to happen, love. You know, I could find a subcontractor for this gig who’s a helluva lot meaner than I am.”

“Yeah, right.”

“I talked to D’s muse. Even got the number for the agency. Maybe I should call in a Conan-the-Barbarian muse for a few weeks.” I wouldn’t. No way. But she doesn’t know that. I’ve had thirty years to figure her out. That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it more than a few times.

Another stone drops into the lake. “Why don’t you go on a pub crawl with Mr. E or something?”

“Because Mr. E is busy. You know Mae’s got a new series she’s working on against a deadline. At least his writer is doing her job. What the hell is wrong with you? Your son is off at college, your daughter is gone on that tennis trip until tonight, and it’s supposed to be rainy all day, so no garden stuff. You need to get your ass in that chair and write.”

“I know.”

“So why are you out here instead of in there?”

“I’m going to do a NaNo month in September, so get off my case.” The next rock splashes. “Besides, there is such a thing as real life, you know. This week’s been a pisser, to use one of your terms.”

“That’s a British term, not Australian.” I know she’s been skirting darkness this past week, so this—whatever she’s got going on–isn’t unexpected. I’m surprised she’s not out here with her Night Fury conscience instead of this big green … book dragon? “You know, you probably feel like shit because you haven’t been writing.” I reach a hand to her. “C’mon, let’s go.”

She doesn’t even look at me. “Go away. Come back later.” The dragon snorts at me.

I meet its red gaze with my own, adding a little Muse power to it. “Go take a break, buddy.”

It bares dagger-like teeth.

I add a bit more Muse juice. “She’s not writing a fantasy. Go on before you piss me off.”

It stares at me, probably wondering just how much damage I could do. Wouldn’t be pretty, that’s for sure. It finally gets to its feet and pushes off, big gold-edged wings causing a down-draft that kicks up a sand cloud as it gains altitude and heads out over the lake.

Julie glares at me. “You work for me. I said–”

I grab her arm, hoist her to her feet, and shove her toward the writing office. “You’re right, and I’m doing my fecking job, love. I’m even writing your blog post for you so you can get your shit together.”

She turns, fire in her eyes. She opens her mouth for an outburst.

I raise a finger in warning. “Don’t.” Gawd, I don’t get paid enough for this.

I’ll let her write the post for next week. Maybe. If she gets her writing done.

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Spring Distractions

I love spring. I mean, if I had a choice of an extended season, I’d pick spring. Most of the bugs aren’t out in force quite yet, the trees are that bright fresh green color, the grass is bold emerald (and needs to be cut already?!), and this:

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lilac flowers

I wish I could include the smell. I go out to the lilac bush and just inhale the scent. We only have one bush, the common lilac, but my dad has more varieties, including one that’s called a French lilac (I think). They all pretty much smell the same, they’re just different colors, for the most part. I hope they’re still blooming next weekend. My dad’s leaving on his annual Alaskan cruise, so I’m taking the opportunity for a couple weekends of writing bliss at his place. This year my aunt (a misnomer because she’s actually my uncle’s ex-wife, but still part of the family) and her sister are going with my dad and my uncle.

Oh, and this is another favorite part of the season:

asparagus_cr There’s nothing like fresh asparagus from the garden. Sooo yummy!

It’s getting to be about that time again, when the weather stays warm enough for the garden to be planted. Not that a person needs to wait until mid-May to plant (holy sh*t, it’s the middle of May already?! Damn, where did the time go? Wasn’t it just St. Patty’s Day?), but I really don’t want to think about covering anything that might die if we get any frost.

My hubby tilled the garden last night, so I’m planning to plant this weekend. Needless to say, I’m ready to get stuff in the ground; one less thing to think about. Then again, that means I’ll need to start weeding. Ugh. It’s almost depressing to see just how well weeds are growing already:

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creeping Charlie

The infamous creeping Charlie. Luckily, not in my garden area … yet. It’s a member of the mint family, so it spreads, but it should also be edible. I’ll have to dig up (or make up) some recipes. Hey, might as well eat it to beat it, right?

My son is done with his freshman year of college and is now home and enjoying life with no homework. His girlfriend came over yesterday and helped him clean out the chick box and put in new bedding. She loves animals, and enjoyed helping (I think), even if the chicks aren’t all that cute anymore:

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It’s almost time to move them outside into a nursery coop, a smaller area than our regular coop to let them acclimate to being outside. Our one remaining hen has been by herself since late last year when a skunk managed to get into the coop area (hence the new chicks). We think she’ll be happy to have some company.

I’ve been procrastinating on writing (in case you couldn’t tell 🙂 ). My agent asked me to make one more small revision, so I’ll do that this weekend and get the manuscript to her next week for the second round of submissions. I’m looking forward to a couple weekends away from distractions at home to work on my WIP.

So there’s the rundown. Light on the writing stuff, heavy on everything else helping me procrastinate. I need to buckle down; I’m getting into that itchy, irritable, agitated state of mind that develops when I don’t write enough. I keep thinking about my writing sisters reunion coming up in August. Ahh, to have a few days to think only about writing. I can’t wait!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Happy Mother’s Day to those who have kids, and to those who don’t, because you probably fill that place in someone’s life, even if they aren’t your own child.

Happy Writing!


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Pen Names and the Visibility of the Internet

As I’m setting up various pieces of my author “platform”, I realize I’ve twisted myself into a bit of a knot. Many writers use their real names when posting or publishing their work, unless, as with a friend of mine, there is already an author out there with the same name.

Some authors also use pen names when writing in different genres, such as Nora Roberts’ alter-ego J.D. Robb.

Then there are those of us who, by virtue of personal experience or by the request of significant people in our lives, use a pen name as a sort of privacy protection. This is my situation. Unfortunately, my pen name and the name I use in the real world have crossed paths as I’ve become more involved in writing groups, writers’ websites, and writing contests.

So, here’s the scoop: My intent is to publish under my pen name of J. M. Goebel, at least at this point to respect the wishes of my other half. It may turn out that a potential publisher will insist I change it to something more visually appealing. So, with that in mind, I’ve set up a Twitter account and writing-centric email address under that name. BUT, my life in the real world doing fun stuff like writing conferences, writing groups, writer friends, etcetera, is done under my real world name: Julie Holmes.

Sorry for the confusion. Please forgive me! I do answer to either name. Really I do.


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Musings of Muses and Inspiration

Welcome to my blog! As a fiction writer, my muse is in my thoughts on a regular basis, along with the everyday chaos I like to call “real life”. If I had a choice, I’d spend more time with my muse!

There’s a ton of sites for writers by writers that run the gamut of, well, anything and everything that has to do with writing. Those blogs look at the how-tos and where-fors of the written word, and a lot of excellent advice for those of us striving to become better at our craft. Hey, we all want to be better writers, right?

And there are blogs out there that include the muse along with the other bits and pieces that make up a writer. But what about that muse? Just what is a muse, anyway? Sure, there’s nine chicks out in the mythological Greek universe that belong to the Muses club, but none of those gals seem to belong to writers per se. There’s the poetry muses (Erato and Calliope), the comedy muse (Thalia), and the muse of tragedy (Melpomene), along with their five other sisters (Greek Mythology), but none that really stand for fiction writers in general.

So I looked up the meaning of the word “muse”, and found my favorite definition in Merriam-Webster’s third listing for the word (Definition of muse): a source of inspiration; especially :  a guiding genius. Oooh, I like that. Guiding genius. Source of inspiration sounds more like what I think a muse truly is to any artist: something that inspires.

Inspiration is the germ of creativity, at least in my mind. I think all artists, whether writers or musicians or painters or what have you, can pinpoint that bit of something that sets off a chain reaction that results in a particular painting, song, or story. A snowfall was my inspiration for a short story that took place in the winter. The memory of a trip to Hawaii sparked the opening scene in one of my novels.

Maybe by stopping for a moment and talking about those little things that can be a “muse” or inspiration, other writers who might be stuck or uninspired at the moment may get a little jog to pop them out of whatever rut they might be in. Sounds like an interesting journey to me. Anyone else in?