Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Touch of the Muse or the Touched Muse

You might have noticed the progress meter claims it is ‘Out of Order’ currently (actually, you might have noticed the entire blog has a new look. I went ahead and switched to blogger beta after seeing several examples of it and the super shiny labels. But I digress…) The progress meter is down. Why? Because MG is in ICU on life support after cutting out 25k words of malignant sub-plot.

The muse and I have been fighting about this for almost two weeks now. And let me tell you, a girl doesn’t get a lot of writing done when she’s fighting with the muse. It was obvious that sub-plot (plots actually, three of them) slowed down MG, but the idea was to set up some stuff for later stories. The problem: the main plot and the sub-plots took place in two different places and I had to wrap up the sub-plots before heading to the location of the main plot. In the outline this looked great, but when that two sentence summery of a sub-plot became 10k words and wanted more, I knew there was a problem. Okay, just cut it and put in a scrap file to use later, right? Oh no, the muse says she thinks we can write a whole book using the sub-plots that will take place before MG. That was when the red flags went off. I have a hard drive full of stories that died after 30k words. Starting a new story sounded like big trouble and falling backwards into bad habits again. The muse assured me it would be just this once.

“Okay, so what’s the main plot of this new second book?”

That was when the muse got really quiet. The sub-plots might have been begging for more room to stretch out, but they were only supposed to be setting up for a story in the distant future, nothing fully worked out. She told me not to worry about that detail yet (not worry about the plot?) and to fix MG’s outline and then start the new one tentatively called CW. It took me the rest of the day to do that and as I started CW’s outline, I was pretty lost aside from knowing that a version of what I cut from MG would be near the beginning of the story.
The next day the muse didn’t show up while I was hitting my head on my keyboard so I went to look for her. I found her kicking rocks.

“So what’s the plot?” I asked.
She didn’t even look up, just kicked another rock. “It’s still hatching. Come back tomorrow.”

Right. The next day she didn’t show at the keyboard again, so again I went looking for her. This time all I found was a note under a rock that said she would be gone for a little while. Always a good sign. *sarcasm*

Of course whenever the muse goes on vacation, her house is empty and her evil sister, doubt, tends to hang around to water the plants. Doubt sings dark lullabies whenever she is in muse’s house. The theme tends to be things like that I won’t be able to finish a second book and that no one has even said they want DH yet. After a couple days of listening to doubt sing I tend to get rather blue. This time was far from the exception.
Finally a postcard arrived from the muse, but all it said was “need fuel.” Okay, I knew what fuel was, so off to the bookstore I ran. I tore through several books, but still no sign of the muse.

Last night I was sitting around telling myself I had to work, muse or no muse, when she just walked in, sporting a nice tan. (Which I have no idea where she went to get a tan in October)

“Got a pen?” she asked.
“Words up on the computer. I’m ready.”
“No, get a pen.”

A strange request, but I wasn’t about to argue with her. I grabbed a pen and some computer paper and we started working out everything she had come up with on her trip. In the end one of the sub-plots from MG transformed into the main plot for CW with the other two sub-plots tying in very nicely. She even came up with a delicious cliffhanger for the ending. (Which can probably be blamed on the fact that I read two of the evil queen of cliffhanger’s wonderful books for fuel while the muse was gone.)

So now I have several pages of notes with all the high points and even some yummy dialogue that needs to be turned into a proper outline. After that I can finally get back to really writing again.

When the muse left last night, she handed me one other thing: a sticky note with the words ‘pound it out’ written on it. It’s stuck to my computer now and is something I need to take to heart. Once CW’s outline is complete I’ll have two outlined books waiting to be written. Pounding them out is good advice. I’m so excited.

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