Letting the story ‘write’ me.

 

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I’m learning to listen to the voices that I hear when I’m writing. It makes the experience so much easier. Some people call it listening to their muse.  Others say that they’ve done that since they started writing-many published novels ago.

During the process of writing Covering the Sun with My Hand I did that. I didn’t get the stories sequentially, though. I heard bits and pieces and thought that was that. It wasn’t. I had to use that gift I learned in graduate school called ‘logical sequencing.’ In the thick of revising I found myself putting various sections together known as ‘right ordering’ them.

Between finishing up my recently published novel and my current work I actually completed another. A different genre- mystery. I love mysteries but mine is not dark enough. Yet. I need to be able to cut my teeth through it. I’ve often said that I like to write in the minor keys.

I wrote that story, the story didn’t write me. There’s a wide chasm between the two. Writers recognize it. It’s when you manufacture something for the sake of it. There’s nothing wrong with it. The process has its good points. I practiced my grammar. I practiced putting a story together. I practiced dialogue. I practiced character development. Maybe I’ll eventually let it out of the desk drawer and send it to a publisher. Or not.

My current story is writing me. I sit on the train and hear the words flow through me. I pull out my smart phone and instead of playing Bejeweled or Candy Crush, I set the words down in the notebook feature. I was gifted with four poems yesterday as I traveled my 20 minute ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn. When I reread these words last night it helped me to understand my new protagonist, Maggie Fuentes, a lot better. She’s so unlike me that I’ve had a hard time getting her motivation. Because I listened, now I do.

The process goes on. I listen. I write. I understand.

Write on, friends!

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Ode to My Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ignored my plaintive whispers

Paid no attention to my pleas

On Sunday had to call the vet- the dog came down with fleas

It’s time to get my blog on

And all you do is tease

As I sit and stare in horror at these damn computer keys

 

 When it seems that I’m most distant

That’s when you’re nestled in my mind

Insects are revolting and quite a bit unkind

When I told you that I needed help

You said you’re not inclined

To help me with my edits, the nastiest bugs I’ll find

 

Hated to see my canine scratchin’

Bitin’ at her tiny little thigh

It seems like you forgotten that it’s on you, whom I rely

My draft’s in a state of languish

You know the reasons why

But all you said was see ya, gotta go, so long, bye-bye

 

Got sidetracked with life’s minutiae

Cried my eyes out ’til they’re raw

No, I swear, you must believe me, I never stopped to draw

I’ve got to write some words down

My creative flow has got a flaw

I realized this had happened as I was poking at her paw

 

Debuggers helped my dog’s morale

She runs and barks, is grateful

I must admit I’m happiest when I see her playful

I’d like to pen some rhymes again, a poem, a verse or two

But here I sit, beside myself, all in all, just fretful

I must believe in you, my muse, you’ve always been most faithful

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Romancing My Muse

Some of my greatest relationships have kept me guessing, on my toes, and anticipating the next great thing. The love of my life that I’m talking about here is my muse. I often wonder when it will pay a visit in my busy and unpredictable life! Will my muse speak to me when I’m covered in slippery bubbles? Will it show up when I’m sitting behind the wheel on I-95? Sometimes my muse has been known to murmur in my ear when I’m slick with perspiration smashed between simmering bodies on the F train. It’s okay, my muse knows how much I love him, her, it! It knows the depths I’ve gone to keep this torrid love affair alive. Let’s face it- muses have been known to be fun, fickle and, occasionally, fatal. My muse has played hard to get. I’ve chased it. I’ve delighted in it. Sometimes I’ve even cried about it.  I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve applied yet another layer of crimson red lip gloss waiting for it to ring the doorbell.  I’ve dabbed tissues under my smudged mascara and wondered if it would call. I’ve wrung my hands, chewed my nail beds and then hidden my fingers in my pants pockets, hoping others wouldn’t see my distress. I admit that I’ve even given birth to books because my muse has sweet talked me into nocturnal raptures.  Instead of weaving socks on a cold winter’s night, I’ve woven words together as I’ve sunk into my easy chair in front of my roaring stone fireplace. All thanks to my muse.

I’ve been told that I’ve needed to corral my muse. Let it know who the boss in this relationship is. I’m told not to pay too much attention as my fingers have danced across my keyboard.  I’ve been advised to write in first person although my muse insists on third (my muse and I agree, never second person!).  I’ve contemplated my muse’s head swelling, expanding, growing in size until it explodes-never to be heard from again, except that would be it giving human form-something I’m not ready to do. If it were human, my muse’s ego would be a lot bigger than mine. It tells me I can write the next best mystery and a Pulitzer is being polished just for me. My muse believes that I can live on a beach on a small island, in a gracious home in the woods or in an apartment in one of the most sought out neighborhoods in NYC. It whispers promises to me as I gaze into my crystal ball-encouraging me to make my dreams a reality and not to turn my back on myself or stand in my way-something that I have been known to do.

Sometimes my muse is busy and at other times I am. I’m especially grateful when my muse knows that I can’t add another thing to my plate. The days I forget to jot down a thought, my muse waits in the wings and often enough reminds me of what whistled through my mind when I have an envelope or index card within reach of my Z-Grip. We take turns at the wheel. We read for pleasure. My muse knows it’s important for me to run, to meditate and to eat salads for lunch. It also knows that I love chocolate ice cream, chatting with friends, and that my spouse and I need private time every once in a while. This is a relationship that will deepen. I feel it in my gut and my bones. I felt it last week when I submitted that short piece for the anthology that an editor had asked me for. I knew it again when a new mystery novel began revealing itself to me a couple of days ago. I was certain when I listened to it speak to me about the third set of revisions for a novel that’s been sitting in an editor’s slush pile. I love my muse. My muse loves me. I think we’re going to continue writing beautiful stories together.

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