Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

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Blood Moon, Beer, and a Traveling Muse

If you had the opportunity to see the world-famous “blood moon” a couple mornings ago, I hope you were able to imprint the gorgeous image on your mental canvas. Talk about creativity-inspiring! Yesterday morning on the way to work I noted how brilliant the full moon was, and made mental notes to remember the moonlight and how it illuminated the before-sunrise darkness so I can include it in my writing. Last night I saw the moon rise, a huge, orange-tinted orb that brought to mind the phrase “harvest moon”. Not only is this time of year host to temperate weather, but the changing leaves, glorious moon, and lack of mosquitoes seems to beg for attention in the form of writing bits and scraps of visual description, sensory imagery, and ideas for my NaNo (National Novel Writer’s Month) novel.

Ah, my muse is enjoying autumn! Or, rather, autumn is a muse I enjoy despite the flurry of activity needed to get the garden, yard, vehicles, house, etc. in order for the coming winter. The blood moon, full moon, and changing leaves are just perks, little bits for us to enjoy before we need to hunker down. I can almost hear the readers in the warm climates snicker. And the ones Down Under. Yes, well, as much as we Minnesotans like to complain about the weather, I like the seasonal changes. Not that summer in January south of the equator is a bad thing; that’s about the time we start wondering if we should beat the rush to warmer climes!

October is the month of harvest, hence the “harvest moon”. October is also the month of Oktoberfest. Since a high percentage of Minnesotans can claim some German blood, many of us can use that excuse to justify attending one of the “fests” in the state (not that we ever really need an excuse to sing drinking songs, which feels really odd without a full bierstien in hand). New Ulm has claimed the title of “Best Oktoberfest in Minnesota”. I haven’t been there for Oktoberfest for a while, but with the Schell Brewery on the edge of town, an abundance of German-inspired landmarks, and polka bands straight from the Old World, the only things missing (thankfully) from the beer, brats, pork, sauerkraut, and lederhosen are the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, stormtrooper police, and falling-down drunks I remember from Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany (but I can say I’ve been there!).

If you ever get a chance to visit New Ulm, even if it isn’t for Oktoberfest, take it. It’s a quaint, darling town that just feels, well, comfortable, with a lot of history and natural beauty. I’ve got my Muse on task to come up with a way to incorporate New Ulm into one of my books so I’ll have more excuses to head down there for research. No, really, spending a couple hours under a canopy with a polka band and a bottomless bierstein is research for my book. Really!

Have you ever traveled to a location that became an unrelenting muse for you? A place or setting that demanded you write about it until you actually gave it a role in your story? Something like this happened to me when I visited New Ulm last fall (no, not for Oktoberfest). I’ve been trying to come up with a story to place there ever since; I’ve still got my Muse working on it.

Do you travel for the sole purpose of doing research for a book or story? Or do you come up with a story to fit the location you’re at? Do you decide to set your story in a particular place, and then travel there to absorb the atmosphere? My writing teacher used this methodology when she proposed her cozy mystery series set in Door County, WI. She travels there on a regular basis to continue her research.

I think I should set a book in Hawaii. Or Tahiti. Or Australia. Definitely need to do research!