Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Muse Gone AWOL

I have a problem – my Muse seems to have decided to go on vacation without asking my permission. This might seem reasonable, seeing as it’s summer and everything, but I’m afraid that’s not how it works. If I’m not on holiday, my Muse can’t be either. Guess I forgot to tell him that though and now he’s probably in the park, eating ice cream ...

I’ve been trying to work on a rewrite. A big job, kind of like the one Liz mentioned the other week. We’re talking major surgery, at least on the latter half of the novel, and it just isn’t happening. Perhaps the Muse thought that because he’d helped me write the story once, his job was finished? Well, he’s wrong. I need him now, more than ever, because he messed up first time round. The hero was boring, he did some really stupid things and quite frankly, I wouldn’t have wanted to marry him myself, so why would my heroine?

So, what to do? How do you tempt a Muse to come back from wherever it is they go when they’re not around? I didn’t know, because I’ve never had to do it before. He’s misbehaved occasionally, but he’s never left the house completely, just sort of skulked in a corner for a while. I tried the usual things – going to the cinema, people-watching, doing boring housework, DIY, going for long walks ... nothing happened. I decided this called for drastic measures, ie. the dreaded outline.

I might have mentioned before that I’m a “pantser” – I don’t plot much, I just sit down and write. Usually the Muse is happy with that and chips in with ideas from time to time. I only ever do an outline when I get stuck, and then it’s mostly very vague. This time I’ve had to get tough and try to do a really detailed one. Gosh, that’s hard!

I can see that it would work really well for an organised person, the type of author who thinks deeply about character motivation/conflict in the right place/major crises/highs and lows in their plot. I don’t. It sort of just happens by itself. Having to write a detailed outline for me is like when I was asked by an English teacher back at school to explain why I’d used certain grammatical structures – I had no idea, I just knew it sounded right. What’s more, I wasn’t interested in explaining it and reading a book on grammar was akin to torture.

But needs must, and right now I’m forcing myself to write down what’s going to happen, section by section. And as I write, I think I detect movement somewhere near my right shoulder when I get to some new and possibly interesting parts of the (hopefully) reinvigorated novel. Could it be the Muse has been tempted to come back by the thought of a really juicy scene? I sure hope so or it’s going to be a very long summer ...

Please come back on Sunday to hear from Liz!