Thursday, July 23, 2009

Calling to My Muse

Artwork by Heidi Taillefer

With my edits complete and sent to my agent, I found myself returning to the next book in my series. It had been over a month since I had last worked on it. After a quick read of the hundred or so pages I had written, I sat down to pick up where I had left off.

At first there were no problems. The story came with ease, several pages added. And then it slowly puttered to a stop.

I found myself writing a couple of sentences, and then checking my email. Writing a few more, and then checking facebook. Then AQ Connect (a fantastic site for writers, by the way). Then trying to figure out whether I should make burgers for dinner or a curry. Of course I'd go back, but it was only to tap out a few words here and there. Perhaps a complete sentence, even.

Now, I'm sure this happens to all writers. Their muse goes on holiday and abandons them to the deafening silence in their head. So what do you do? Personally, I force myself to write with hopes of tempting my muse back. And usually it works.

I know part of my problem stems from the fact that I write with no outline. Nothing but a vague idea as to where the story is going. Not that I haven't tried outlines, chapter summaries and character sheets. They just don't work for me. My characters tend to have a mind of their own and refuse to behave themselves. They're so very bad.

However, if my manuscript has gone nowhere in over a week's time despite my best efforts to write, and I'm still in a muse-less hell, then I know I've taken a wrong turn somewhere. I've taken the story down a road it does not want to go down, and I've written myself into a corner.

For me, there is only one thing to be done, an extreme measure to be sure. I look over the storyline and try to find where I took the wrong turn. And then the hard part. I highlight pages and pages of text, and with my heart pounding in my head, feeling as if I might pass out, I hit the delete key.

Okay, so I've got a copy saved. Just in case. But chances are those pages will never get used if the story has gone down a different road. Hours, days, weeks of writing. Useless. *Sigh*

A sacrifice made in my muse's name. She is once again pleased.



Elana Johnson said...

Yay! I deleted 95 pages (over 26,000 words) from my WiP in April and started again. I think I got it right the second time through. Sometimes that's what has to be done. And it takes guts. Good job!

And how come I didn't know about your blog before?? Man, I love blogging.

Cali MacKay said...

You are one BRAVE girl. 95 pages. *gulp* It just needs to be done sometimes. I think the largest delete I made in one go was around 25 pages.

I'd rather delete with the opportunity to write more, than not write at all, stuck in a corner. In the end, I think you have a stronger story, and at the very least it got written, than not written at all.

Joe Goodson said...

I write from outlines, as I got tired of those dry spells. It also helps me give the story a lot more clarity and drive to its finish.

It also keeps the charactes in line, as you discover the problems of putting X character with Y traits into Z problem to achieve..well, I've just run out of letters but you get my point. Outlining solves a lot of writing problems, really.

So, yeah.

I recommend them.

Cali MacKay said...

I wish I could work from an outline. It's just never worked for me. And I have tried on more than one occasion.

I also find that with an outline, I wouldn't put my characters through half as much as I normally put them through. In a lot of cases, the story really does take on a life all its own, becoming far more fluid and going places I would not have ever thought to take it. Granted it does mean that I often need to go back through and tighten up the story line.

I think you're good as long as you have something that works for you, and it allows your muse to stay by your side.

BEING HAD said...

A nice piece. I found this because I was hunting a picture which might define the word muse and found yours. Glad I happened in here.

Cali MacKay said...

Being Had, I'm so glad you found us! I hope you'll poke around some more! : )