I tell people I am a writer.
I actually have a job that earns money. I am a senior technical instructor. That takes up most of my daylight hours and pays the bills. It is actually a rewarding career and I enjoy it most of the time. It even occasionally involves curriculum development, which is a form of writing. But I also write on my own. A lot. I love writing. Well most of the time.
I spent the better part of a year without doing any significant writing. Actually, more than that if you don’t count the few blog posts I made. I have been working on a novel since 2006 and I have several files for different chapters in the story, but there was no order to them. I figured once I got the story down, I would go back and put the segments in order. The story has always come to me in spurts, but last year, I hit a brick wall in my story-telling process. I didn’t know what it was until recently. I couldn’t even think of my characters or plots even after rereading the text. In fact, it was so bad I got hypercritical about the book and almost trashed it. Fortunately, I didn’t.
The creative force that drives writers and artists is often called “the Muse” and creative people each have their own relationship with this force. The Muse refers to the mythological daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (goddess of memory) and considered the source of all knowledge, science and the arts. The Muses are always portrayed as female entities.
My Muse has been on sabbatical for some time. I don’t know why. I don’t know where. Maybe they had a family reunion on Mount Olympus. All I know is that for more than a year, I have had no real good ideas pop into my head to write. Suddenly, about two weeks ago, after I bought a new tablet, the muse returned with a vengeance. With the new tablet, I obtained a new piece of software that allows me to organize all of the parts of my novel together in segments that can be arranged on the fly and uses notes to help identify sections. This new organization allows me to see the whole of novel at a glance, which somehow removed the stopper that had been blocking me. It was like my Muse wouldn’t talk to me until I cleaned up my room.
Ever since then, I have been wrestling with my muse just to shut her up. The other night, I wrote a draft of a new scene in my novel. I cranked out 2000 words (not too shabby) and I was getting tired. It was late. But like the character in my book, the muse would not let me go to bed. Once I closed the tablet and tried to settle into bed, my muse started talking to me again with ideas for the next chapter as well as some revisions for previous scenes. I got out of bed, set up the tablet and began typing notes. Once I had a rough outline done, I figured I would go to bed and flesh it the next day.
My muse had other ideas.
I left the tablet set up, but settled into bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I saw the next scene playing out in my mind like I was watching a movie. Once I had the gist of the plot, I got up and outlined it too. This was a compromise, because my Muse wanted me to write out the scene right then. This happened two more times before I was allowed to nod off.
Yesterday morning, while riding my motorcycle into work, the muse shifted from the novel I am currently writing to one I have been conceptualizing. I had the idea for a story last year after my niece had her second child and gave him a wonderfully interesting name. I told her that is the name for a protagonist! Unfortunately at that time I had no story to go with it. Now I do, thanks to my muse who kept urging me to get off the highway and take notes. I did not, but I did remember enough to sketch an outline when I got to the office.
While it sounds like I am complaining, I am actually delighted to have ideas flowing again. I was getting quite frustrated and my inability to generate text. Now I only hope I can keep my muse focused on one story at a time, at least until one is finished. The last thing I need is too many stories to keep track of messing up my file organization. I don’t need my Muse nagging me to clean my folders again.