Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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First New Year goal = success! #amwriting #firstdrafts

YES! I did it! I finally finished my eighth (yes, my eighth start-over) first draft of Book 2! Woo-hoo!

Nobody’s around to see my Snoopy dance in my writing office.

“Ahem.”

Damn it. I can’t even celebrate finally reaching that elusive finish line by myself. “Really? C’mon, let me revel a bit. You know how long I’ve been working to reach the end of a draft for Book 2?”

“I’m well aware, love.” My Muse rests a hip on my desk and crosses his arms on his broad chest. He’s wearing a fisherman’s sweater in a powder-pale gray, along with dark gray lounge pants and slippers in the shape of …

“Are you seriously wearing koala slippers? They actually make those in your size?” I mean, I can see kids wearing koala slippers, but a grown man?

He sticks a foot out. “I have to support my fellow Aussies. Besides, they’re warm.”

O-kay. I admit, they are cute. I just never pictured a six foot-two inch tall, lean, muscular, oh-so-easy-on-the-eyes Muse with fuzzy koala bears on his feet.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, basking in the pre-revision glory of a finished draft. “You, ah, could go for a pub crawl with Mr. E.” I wonder if he’ll get the hint.

A crooked smile inches across his face. “In case you didn’t hear, love, there’s a major snowstorm raging outside through tonight. I think I’d rather hang out with my wonderful writer and work on her next project while she’s letting her shiny new draft rest.”

Ugh. “Fine. I have to rewrite the first chapter again anyway.”

An eyebrow arches. “Again? How many times have you done that already?”

“Erm, four. I think.”

My Muse rolls his eyes and sighs. “This isn’t going to be another Book 2, is it?”

I can’t resist. I stick out my tongue at him. “No. I know how this story will go. Mostly. Enough to get through the first draft, anyway. And I have to take two–wait, three more classes. Which reminds me, I have to sign up for one.”

His chest rises and falls with a deep breath. “You sure about that? Your daughter is home for the semester. Are you going to be able to focus on more than one thing?”

“She’ll work nights, just like she did over the summer and over winter break, so, yeah.”

He doesn’t look convinced. “Can you get the draft of this other project done before March? Because, as I recall, you have a lot going on that month. And,” he shakes a finger at me, “you will have to start revisions on Book 2.”

I drop into one of the corner recliners. “You sure know how to crash a party.”

“It’s not your first book, love. You know what you need to do.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know.”

So, while the wind wages war with all those frozen water flakes outside, I’ll be working on my next project. Wait, I have some long overdue reviews to write, too. Maybe I can pull out my fresh new seed catalogs when I need a break instead of shoveling off the deck 😀

Have a great writing weekend! For all those in the path of this latest snowstorm, stay safe, stay warm!


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A-Musing Solstice Salutations #amwriting #wintersolstice

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

What the … The last thing I expected to see in my writing office was my Muse sitting in one of the corner recliners with my laptop. Of course, to see him dressed the way he was … oh boy.

The red and white striped sweatpants, like a wearable candy cane, would have been eye-searing enough without that sweater. Think bright green, with tinsel garland and strands of tiny blinking lights sown across it in tiers, complete with miniature glass ball ornaments.

Oh. My. Gawd. He looks like a Christmas tree sat on an elf. The only things missing are curly-toed slippers and a Santa hat. I’m not sure whether to laugh or … yeah, gotta laugh. I manage to choke back a guffaw. “Um, where the hell did you find that outfit?”

He looks up at me, his angular cheekbones, blue eyes, and the little divot in his chin contrasting with that get-up. “I’m getting into the spirit of the season.” He flashes his crooked grin, the one that always raises the temperature in the room.

Even now, with that ridiculous outfit, it’s getting warm in here. I shove the sleeves of my hooded sweatshirt to my elbows. “It’s hideous.”

He raises an eyebrow. Pretty sure I’m having a hot flash. Yeah, I’ll call it that.

“Really? I thought you’d like the lights.”

“Um, yeah, I do,” I admit. “What are you doing?”

“What you should be doing, love.”

I can’t believe he’s writing a blog post without me asking, begging, or bartering with him. “I came in here to write my post.”

“Way ahead of you, love.”

“Ah, o-kay. Why? You always grumble when I ask you to write posts for me.”

“What’s wrong with me writing posts when I want to? I thought you would be happy you didn’t have to beg.”

Well, sure, but it’s kinda like when kids do stuff without you badgering them to do it. “What do you want?”

His eyes widen. He puts on what I would call his innocent face. “I never said I wanted anything, love.”

I open the back door and stand in the breeze from the snow-covered yard to cool down. “Riiight. Just tell me now so I can grumble about it.”

He sets the computer aside and levers out of the recliner. “You’re letting the cold air in.”

“It’s hot in here.”

He reaches over my head and pushes the door closed. “It’s not.”

I stare into twinkling Christmas lights before taking a step back. Into the door. “So, let me get this straight. You are writing my blog post without my asking because why? You’re feeling generous?”

“That, and it seems people like when I write posts.”

Actually, I think it’s just him. He usually has some sort of writing wisdom to share. The fact that he’s incredibly easy on the eyes has nothing to do with it.

Nope, that has absolutely nothing to do with it.

“I think I’m going to stand outside for a few minutes.” I turn to open the door again.

“I’m almost finished. Then it’s your turn, love. You only have a few more chapters left for the Book 2 draft. Then you can dig into that other project you keep thinking about.”

“See, I knew you wanted something.”

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

This will be my (and my Muse’s) last post until after the New Year (except for the standard Merry Christmas/Happy New Year posts 😀 ). Enjoy your holidays with friends and family. Safe travels to all.

Keep writing!


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Still behind in the home stretch #nanowrimo #amwriting

Image by Steve Howard from Pixabay

My writer finally comes through the door to her writing office. I have to make a show of checking my non-existant watch. “Where the hell have you been, love?”

She grimaces at me. “I know, I know. I worked at the library two nights this week, and I’ve still been writing every night, so …” She trails off into a grumble.

“Watch your language. You’ve been distracted.”

“Duh!” Julie grabs her laptop and plants herself in one of the recliners in the corner. More grumbling. She’s wearing her NaNoWriMo hoodie, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much.

“Would you like to talk about it, love?”

“I have to write.”

She’s so grumbly I can feel the creative energy being repelled. Sigh. I settle next to her in the other recliner. “Tell me.”

“You already know. Why should I tell you?”

“Because by actually saying it you will feel better. And yes, I can feel the energy shift. When is your daughter supposed to be home?”

“Soon.” She chews on a knuckle. “I didn’t get as much writing done last weekend as I had wanted to. I worked at the library and tried to write. I did write when it was slow, just not enough. I even wrote every day this week, and I still didn’t hit my word count. And I’m not going to get that short story done to submit for the anthology.”

“You could, love. That’s the one with a hard deadline. Your draft doesn’t have a hard deadline.”

She looks over at me, her face flushed. Frustration, I think. “I don’t know how to write it. I’m stuck. You know what? I think I need to write something different. I want to work on the Spring Brook story. Or I could revise my police procedural. Or maybe work on that urban fantasy you keep pinging me with.”

The urban fantasy would be a nice change of pace, but now is not the time. “Tell me what’s distracting you, love.”

She bounces her head back against the recliner. “Everything. Do you realize Thanksgiving is next week already? And my daughter is home this weekend, then coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday two days after she goes back. The energy is,” she rubs at her eyes, “different. Harder to work with. And I have housework to do, even if it is the bare minimum. And I have to get my new computer set up. And damn it, I need to be writing.”

“Yes, you do. So what do you need to do to get there?”

“Stop talking and start writing. Go finish my blog post. Please.”

I try another test. Most of the creative energy is still not sinking in. Bloody hell. “I’ll call Wander in. Maybe she can help.” There’s something about dragons that helps my writer open up.

Not Wander, but close.

“Fine. Whatever. Let me try to hit my word count tonight, alright?” She glances at the clock on the desk and groans.

I lean over to her. “Relax, love.”

“Easy for you to say. Finish the post, then help me with this transition.”

And I expect that’s how the weekend will go. If I can get her to hit double her word goal over the next two days, she’ll be on track to hit 50k by the 30th.

Wish me luck!


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One week in and keeping up so far #nanowrimo #amwriting

It appears that you will have to put up with me writing the post again. I suspect you’ll hear from me every week for the rest of the month.

Hell, I’ll gladly write these posts if it means my writer is actually writing. As I type, Julie is in her recliner in the corner with her laptop on her lap, and headphones on. Hmm. I don’t hear any typing.

I don’t even think her eyes are open.

“Hey, Julie.”

I know she has noise-cancelling headphones, but she should still be able to hear me. *snaps fingers* “Hey, Julie.”

Bloody hell.

She doesn’t even react until I’m standing at the foot of the recliner. I grab her slippered foot.

“Hey!”

Heh. You should have seen her jump.

“What the hell?” she says.

“Were you sleeping, love? I’m not here to watch you sleep.”

She pulls off her headphones. “I wasn’t sleeping. I was thinking.”

“Oh, is that what you call it now?”

She rolls her eyes, then sticks out her tongue. As I expected. I’ve been her Muse too long for much of anything to surprise me.

“Hey, I’ve been writing. I’m keeping up. And I finally hit a spot where I can just write. I’ve been having trouble with the transitions. Which, come to think of it, you could help with. Since you’re my Muse.” She draws out the last in a way that makes me think of a snarky teenager.

“You are fecking lucky I know you so well, love.”

A knock at the door to her writing office interrupts. She sets her computer aside and goes to answer the door.

Sigh. I can feel the energy shift. I suspect my writer’s expected surge of words over the weekend is fading.

Julie closes the door and returns to her recliner. “Just because my daughter is home from school–which, by the way, I wasn’t expecting–doesn’t mean I won’t be able to make my word counts.”

“Remember that, love. And remember you are busy next week, so you have to get ahead in your word count this weekend.”

She grumbles. “Just finish the post already so you can help me concentrate.”

The end of the first week of NaNo. Three more weeks and 40,000 or so more words to go. Lovely. I might have to call in reinforcments. A book dragon, perhaps?


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Na-no-na-no-na-no-na-no-WriMo! #amwriting #nanowrimo

Holy earworm, Batman! It’s our theme song.

I can’t help but roll my eyes. “Very funny.”

My Muse raises an eyebrow, adding to his roguish appeal, as if his cream-colored fisherman’s sweater, worn-well jeans, and five o’clock shadow wasn’t enough. “I was thinking campy.”

I have to add another eye roll, because what else do you do? “Har, har. Just write the post, please.”

He leans back in my office chair, fingers laced over his lean middle. “Relax, love. This isn’t my first post, and I suspect won’t be my last. How many words have you written today?”

Erm, yeah. About that. “I’m not quite at my target for today yet.”

“And why not?”

Damn. “I’m trying.”

“Not hard enough, obviously. This is the first day, love. You have to get your ass in gear if you’re going to hit fifty thousand words.”

“I know. I know. It’s only the first day.”

He leans forward, rests his crossed arms on my desk, and focuses his sharp blue eyes on me. “I’m writing your post. Your job is butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.”

I flip the leg rest out on my recliner and adjust my laptop. “I’m almost there. I’ll hit my daily goal today.”

“What about tomorrow’s goal? You have a local author fair tomorrow.”

“I know, I know.”

“And you need to turn in the next chunk of pages to your writing teacher, right?” He shakes his head. “I can only do so much, love. Do I need to bring Grumpy back for a month?”

Oh, gawd. “No. Don’t you dare. I’ve got my plan. It’ll come together.”

My Muse offers a wry smile. “It better.”

I open my mouth, then snap it shut before I blurt out the inevitable ‘or else what?’.

He chuckles.

“What?”

His crooked grin hits me like a Taser shot. Not sure whether that’s good or bad. “Get back to work.”

“Don’t forget Zoey.”

“Not my first post, love. It’s under control.”


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Best-made plans, derailed by stairs? #amwriting

stairs-1932574_640

I slam the door to my writing office.

“Hey.” My Muse intercepts me on my way to the corner.

I shove around him; I hear a recliner calling my name.

He grabs my arm, pulling me to a stop. “What’s going on, love?”

Something about my Muse in his burgundy henley and worn-well jeans and smelling like the great outdoors in fall cools my frustration. I can’t help the sigh.

“You know, when you have a nice list of stuff to do on an impromptu trip that you didn’t really plan to do on your day off but planned anyway because it made sense, and you think of all the stuff you’ll be able to cross off your to-do list, and you really want to cross all that stuff off because then it’s done?” Yes, I know it’s a run-on sentence, but I don’t care.

He pauses for a moment, probably deciphering my ramble. “Yes.”

“And then Murphy comes along and sticks a finger in it just because he has nothing better to do?”

“I take it you weren’t able to cross much off your list.”

Another sigh. “I know unexpected stuff comes up, and I’m okay with that because that’s life, but I wanted to do some writing after I got home.” Grumble. “Totally trashed that idea.” The day was such a bust I’m having a hard time just settling my frustration, much less writing anything.

He steers me toward a recliner. “Sit.” I comply without protest because that was my plan anyway. He sits on the edge of the other recliner. “Do you need to walk through it?”

Argh. “So, I go down to Mankato to help my daughter get her student loan paperwork done and tuition paid, and she wants to come home this weekend but needs a ride because her last class ends at four and her friends that are coming home this weekend want to leave earlier and my son isn’t coming home so she needs a ride home and since I’m down there I was going to do my errands and probably have a little extra time I could spend working on my stuff.” Deep breath.

“Slow down, love.”

“I took today off so I could do some writing and I needed a break from work but then the whole Mankato thing came up–tuition is due the end of the month but I know that if I don’t push her to do anything she’ll wait until the very last minute and then if she has to do extra stuff in oder to get the loan she won’t be able to pay tuition on time–and I have to get my new glasses reworked again because they still don’t have the progression in the right spot so I wanted to do that and I have a book fair thing all day on Saturday so I won’t get anything done other than what I can do there which might not be much so I only have Sunday to really do stuff, but I’ll need to recover a bit from Saturday …”

“Stop.” He leans over me. “Slow. Down. What happened?”

“So, I get to campus and meet my daughter at eleven–she has a break until her one o’clock class–and we walk over to the cashier’s office and find out she has to accept her loan first and to do that she has to watch some informational video thing …”

“Julie.”

“I’m getting to it. So I tell her to do the video thing at home this weekend because it takes a half hour, she shouldn’t do it on her phone, and her brother will be there to help if she needs it. He is coming home anyway this weekend.”

“You still haven’t told me what happened.”

“You know it was hot and sooo humid. And campus is, like, a ten-minute hike from her apartment. I left her on campus to go to her class and walked back to her apartment.  I left her apartment and head to the shopping area to start my errands, and I get a call from her while I’m driving–Minnesota is hands-free now so I can’t talk–but she says it’s an emergency.”

“I’m waiting.”

“She fell down a step. She misstepped and basically rolled her foot and fell hard. She had friends with her, but needed me to come and get her and take her to the hospital.”

Another pause. “Don’t they have emergency services on campus?”

“There’s a clinic, but no sort of ER or anything. So right then, my plans go ‘poof’. Luckily one of her friends called the EMT and her other friend is a guy big enough to pick her up and carry her someplace not on the stairs outside in the humid heat because she can’t walk. The EMT thought nothing was broken but he advised getting an X-ray but the clinic doesn’t have anything like that.”

“Finish up, love.”

“So I finally find her–I don’t know where anything is on campus except the dorm she and my son used to live in–and my sense of direction is as good as a rock. She tells me what buildings she’s by, but I don’t know where they are, and she sends me a campus map with her location circled and it still takes me ten freaking minutes to figure out where she is and how to get there then we have to get her stuff from her apartment before driving all the way up to our usual hospital to Urgent Care, because we know that hospital is in our network and she wasn’t bleeding to death or anything. And then we were in Urgent Care for, like, two hours. Two hours! After an hour and a half drive.”

“Was her foot broken?”

“No, and we really didn’t think it was. A ligament on the top of the foot was pulled, so it’s a bad sprain. But all that just torched the whole day. And it was mostly the drive and the two or more hours in Urgent Care–and we were, like, the only people there.”

My Muse nods. “Okay, I get it. Shit happens.”

“I know, I know. But it’s still frustrating.”

My daughter is okay. They gave her a splint so she can’t twist her foot and gave her the whole ibuprofen, ice, rest routine. And I’m off to my book fair all day. At least there will be four other Sisters in Crime members there to hang with. And maybe my sister-in-law, who is a member of the Friends of the Library there.

Have a productive writing weekend!

zoey1

 


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All the stage is a kitchen #amwriting

“You know, love, I try to be inspiring.” My Muse leans over my shoulder, so close I can smell evergreen and fresh-cut wood with a touch of cinnamon. “But I have to tell you that’s a stupid title for your post.”

“Gee, thanks. I don’t hear you coming up with a better one.” Or a post subject for that matter. I lean back in my office chair with a bit of difficulty since he’s standing right behind me, all six-foot two inches of his toned physique. With his red and black flannel shirt rolled halfway up his forearms and worn-well jeans, I envision him more inclined to throw a steak or two on the barbie instead of shrimp. Hell, forget the barbie; just cook ’em over a campfire.

Image by Tommy_Rau from Pixabay

He plants a hand on the back of my chair and bends closer, giving me a view of the individual hairs of his stubble, now more ten o’clock shadow than five o’clock, covering his square jaw and …

“Really, love? That is so cliche.”

“Which part? The ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’ part or the rugged outdoorsman cooking steak over fire part?” I can feel the heat from his skin. I should probably open a window; it’s getting a little warm in here. “I figure you’re Australian, so shrimp.” It goes with the Aussie surfer image. Then again, the roguish look works for him. Definitely works for him.

He turns to face me and rests a hip on my desk. “We are not talking about shrimp, love. Or steak. We are talking about the scene in your WIP. Focus.”

Fine. “Okay, so the thing is everyone is over at the mentor’s house. Well, his widow’s house. They went over there yesterday after the memorial service, had coffee and caught up on a few things. Some conflict between a couple characters. Another character comes and argues with the son-in-law. A little foreshadowing. The scene takes place in the kitchen slash dining area, of course, because that’s where everyone gathers.”

“Sounds logical. What’s the problem?”

“Well, my other main character arrives at the house the next morning, and of course that’s another meet and greet, also in the kitchen area, because that’s where you do things like that. Then the police chief arrives to share some information, and of course that all takes place in the kitchen, too.”

“So, you’re saying it’s boring.”

“Not boring, but shouldn’t there be some change of scenery? I mean, do readers want to see two or three scenes in a row all in the kitchen slash dining area?”

“Are there any scenes in that sequence that are not in the kitchen area?”

“Well, yeah. The main character goes to the garage, where the mentor died, to look over the scene.” Everything is done indoors, in the same-ish space. “But everyone is at the house. In the house. And they are all sitting around the table drinking coffee.” Because that’s what people do.

“Hmm.” He scratches at his stubble. “What about a patio in the backyard?”

“It’s just before Memorial Day weekend in northern Minnesota. In the morning. It’s chilly outside.” I review the layout of the house in my head. “What if they go into the living room to discuss the chief’s news? Would that work?”

“Sure, it will work,” he says, “but will it be enough is the question, right? All you can do is write it and see how it reads.”

“C’mon, you’re my Muse. Help me out, here. Give me some other ideas.”

“Why are they sitting around the table? What are they talking about? Is it a matter of the characters getting information or the reader?”

“Both. I’m just thinking about how this stuff works in real life. That’s what you do. Someone dies, everyone goes back to the house and talks about stuff because weddings and funerals are when people reunite. You talk about stuff at the table …”

Hold on. Duh. “The first day, after the memorial, it’s later, early evening I suppose, when they get back to the house. They could hang out on the patio then. It’s late May, so it stays light out later.” It would still be cool out, but that might be where the mentor and his wife used to sit and enjoy the flowers. That adds an emotional connection.

My Muse wears a self-satisfied grin. “See, love, I knew you’d figure it out.”

This is how a lot of my scene work goes, though. I write it, it’s not quite right, then I take a walk and talk things through until something clicks. It’s a good thing we’re out in the country, or someone might call those nice young men in their clean white coats 😀

After all the rain this week, I might venture into the garden later, but for now, I have some (lots of!) writing to do. Enjoy your weekend!