Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dealing With a Demanding Muse

When I began writing this post today, I realized just what a bossy Muse I have.  She (and yes, my Muse is definitely a “she” even though she sometimes speaks in a decidedly male voice) has all the patience of a two-year-old on a sugar high.  She takes no excuses, accepts no delays, wants everything NOW, and will scream at me if I don’t listen.
Sometimes, darn it, I just can’t listen.  I try to tell her this.  “I have a life,” I say.

She replies, “I don’t want to hear it.  Listen to this idea!”  She begins to jump up and down.  “Listen, listen, LISTEN!”

And yes, like any weary-worn mother I do stop whatever I’m doing and listen, because, after all I really do love her and she always has such very good ideas.  The trouble is she all too frequently rolls them out when I’m busy doing something else – shopping or driving to work, preparing dinner or (sadly, far less frequently) doing housework.  And once she shares the germ of an idea, I’m infected and can’t think about anything else.
I’ve had the outlines for complete novels descend upon me while I’m scrubbing the bathtub.  I’ve had entire plots blossom in my mind while I’m folding laundry.  My Muse has spat out pages of conversations between characters at me when I’m supposed to be straightening a closet.

And that brings up another peculiarity of the writer’s life: people talking in my head.  Usually, when folks admit they hear voices, those around them grow concerned.  They exchange questioning glances and mention terms like “over work”, “counseling” and even “mental breakdown”.  They tend to think steps should be taken.  But for a writer, having people talking, posing and even acting out complex scenes in her head is standard operating procedure. 
Once one of my stories is well and truly launched and sailing on the seas of creativity, it takes on a life of its own.  The characters cease to be entirely imaginary and – if things are really going well – assume control of their lives.  They make their own choices, disastrous and otherwise, act out scenes regardless of whether or not I’m in a position to observe them, and carry on conversations even when it’s impossible for me to write them down.  It’s truly maddening, because at that point I don’t want to miss anything.  It makes me wish I could just sit like someone visited upon by the phenomenon of automatic writing and scribble it all down.  But as I’ve told my Muse, I have a life.

So what’s a writer with a bossy Muse and self-absorbed mental tenants to do?  Well, I’ve been known to scrawl plot twists and conversations on the backs of receipts in the car, and I routinely struggle to remember what happens next till I can get somewhere and jot it down.  Crazy?  Yes.  Enjoyable?  Oh, so much!  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.  That’s why I know I need to listen to the bratty two-year-old no matter how mad her ideas seem, just as I did when she talked me into writing about the brave and adventurous descendants of Robin Hood.  The rest, as they say, is history.


When Gareth de Vavasour, nephew of the Sheriff of Nottingham, is captured by the outlaws of Sherwood Forest and held for ransom, he knows he will be fortunate to escape with his life.  Amid the magic and danger that surround him, he soon realizes his true peril lies in the beautiful dark eyes of Linnet, the Saxon healer sent to tend his wounds.
Granddaughter of Robin Hood, Linnet has always known she is destined to become a guardian of Sherwood Forest, along with her sister and a close childhood companion.  She believes her life well settled until the arrival of Gareth. Then all her loyalties are tested even as her heart is forced to choose between love and the ties of duty, while Sherwood declares its own champion.

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