I didn’t lose my voice. I just can’t find the heart of my story or the right words to express it.
Like teenagers talking all at once, ideas wave before my eyes vying for attention and making me dizzy. I blink them away because I sense they are distracting me from finding the jewel I seek. I silence them using the voice of my 8th grade teacher. “Empty barrels make the most noise.” They flutter away. It’s silent now.
Silence. What is it they say about silence? Silence is golden. Aha, the treasure I seek. Which reminds me of a line from the 1956 musical film by Rodgers and Hammerstein, The King and I. In a pregnant romantic moment between King Mongkut played by Yul Brynner and Mrs. Anna portrayed by Deborah Kerr, the king says, “When one does not know what to say, it is a time to be silent.”
Sage advice. So I quiet all of my thoughts and emotions. In that silence, I hear a sound of rushing waters. Then music trickles out like a spring, new and refreshing. It is my voice.
My fingers tinkle the keys of my laptop. Like musical notes, I string the letters together to form the right words.
A vision of Disney’s The Little Mermaid appears before me. Ariel has lost her voice and found her prince. I smile for it was in her silence that she touched and won his heart.
See you next time on January 22nd. Happy New Year!
Muses are complicated, unreliable, reluctant and downright ornery at time. Especially those times fiction writers rely on their whispers. No matter how much pleading we may do, they can flutter a story to someone new—someone who paid their heed to write with haste to complete the plot and not let life get in the way.
Muses are overrated, say the writers who aren’t staring at a white page with a dash blinking.
We should make a stand against how creativity blips into our minds and conjures ideas. The very lifeblood of our writing careers dance on the wire between characters flowing into reality, and the hard-pressed compromise of grunting words onto the page.
Would we ever turn our backs on the whispers? No. The whispers manage to coerce us into believing we can’t manage without them. That any organic thought would perish before the second scene.
However, muses don’t stand well against the match of a good writing partner. A partner who can in your most dire of need, visualize a story from beginning to end and hit all the plot twists. Someone who doesn’t wisp away when the writing gets tough, and who can switch their imagination on at your darkest hour to find the turning point in your story. Just remember to take notes!
So wherever you are in your writing careers, stand tall against relying on the whispers. Talk to a confidant and work through the saggy middles of your plots. Find the character flaws that can make your story live. Unite against the muse and nominate the independent. You.
P.S. Please don’t tell my muse!
It was Sunday night before I knew it and I still hadn’t finished rewriting the next chapter of my book, nor my blog for a Slice of Orange. I was stuck, the clock was ticking and I had no one to blame but myself. I’d made too many alternate life choices this month when I should have been writing!
You might have seen my blog last month (Please Don’t Make Me Have To Learn How To Ride A Camel) where I shared with you that I’m turning sixty-five in a few months and I’ve set all these goals for myself. My conscience is killing me as I check back in with you.
Over the past month, not only have I not spent enough time writing, I’ve sadly made no noticeable downward movement on the bathroom scale. I have been walking as you can see from the attached picture. And walking on the beach requires a lot more hard work, although my FitBit refuses to take that into consideration. Traitor!
Tonight I discovered that one of the goals I’d made turned out to be a bit wonky. And although I could use it as a time consuming excuse for not writing… I won’t. I have to admit that I got swept up by the title of a book and made a big assumption. I thought that it sounded like a motivational piece that might help me to focus on personal self-improvement strategies. I said I was going to read Paul Arden’s best seller – It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. And I did and I liked it. Only it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was designed for readers who want to improve their status in the workplace. I’m retired.
But wait, having read it once – it’s short – I returned and read it a second time searching for nuggets of guidance that might prove helpful… and I found some.
Keying on Arden’s last truth – “Ambition trumps talent”, I humbly got back to work, ambitiously typing away on the keyboard to write this blog. I even finished editing the next chapter of my book tonight, pleased that I’d re-found a bit of my writing JuJu in a most unexpected place.
We had a great OCC Birthday Party on Saturday though I had to leave early and missed the yummy looking cake. While there I signed up for the new online class called Muse Therapy by D. D. Scott. D.D. has given us some interesting homework assignments, and I’m going to share what I’ve learned about my muse so far.
D.D. suggested we name our muse. Mine is a 1960’s flower child, so she needed a hippie name. I considered Sunshine and Starshine, but those are both too constant for this fickle little lady. So I decided on Zephyr since she’s about as easy to pin down as a gentle breeze.
Zephyr loves: history, science fiction & fantasy, anything paranormal or New Age (astrology, Tarot cards, etc.), books, movies & music (folk, rock, New Age, movie soundtracks, some classical, a little country Western but no rap or hip hop). Music helps the two of us get anchored in a story, and I usually pick a movie soundtrack for each new book or story.
Like me, she lacks patience and stick-to-itiveness (not good traits for either a writer or a muse). Also like me, she’s easily distracted.
Zephyr loves the ocean and mountains, is OK with the desert if it’s not too hot (she really loves Sedona). Big cities are fun once in a while but too distracting. So much to do and see.
Unlike me, she doesn’t seem to have a temper, but she can sulk big time, not to mention just disappearing on me for long periods of time. It’s very passive aggressive of her, lol. She’s been AWOL for a while now, but recently made a reappearance. Problem is, every time she shows up, it’s usually with a new story idea, not how to finish the current WIP.
She’s earthy with a dirty mind as well as a potty mouth, and an active sense of humor. She does have a serious side, though, and a surprisingly formal writing voice. Or maybe that’s because it’s all filtered through my more logical brain.
What form does your muse take?
USA Today reported that in an interview with The Sunday Times, John Le Carre, British intelligence agent turned thriller writer, said he was “tempted to defect to the Soviet Union”. Le Carre, real name David Cornwell, joined British intelligence in 1949. He wasn’t sympathetic to Communist ideology, but he was “curious about what was on the other side of the Iron Curtain”.
Is he a writer, or what?
As an author, I can understand where he’s coming from. The muse is always whispering in our ears, asking questions and making suggestions. When I was writing my historical romance, Rogue’s Hostage, which was set in Pennsylvania and Quebec, I jumped on the opportunity to attend a conference in Toronto. Then I talked my husband into joining me afterwards so I could see Quebec City for myself. We had a lovely vacation, I got great visuals of the area I’d be writing about, and I found research material that would have been much harder to find in California. (This was in 1994 before so much was available on the internet.) This experience helped me to write a better book.
A few years ago, my publisher, Amber Quill, started looking for gay romances, something I’d never thought I’d write, but my muse had different ideas. I shocked friends and family by taking this step, but my sales are up and one of my stories was an EPPIE finalist. Sometimes the muse knows best, though I’m glad Le Carre didn’t defect. Otherwise we’d never have had The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, The Constant Gardener, and dozens of other books by a terrific author.
What has your muse tempted you to do?
One October morning in 1932, Vicente Sorolla entered the white house on the hill and was never seen again. Now, Detective Dori Orihuela witnesses his brutal murder in her nightmares.More info →