Monday, November 12, 2018

A Train, A Muse and a Character to be Named Later

TeroVesalainen via Pixabay 
I'm typing this on Sunday evening aboard a train from New York City, mostly because I love both the concept and the actual act of writing while on the train (but also because I need a post for Monday). The day before we left, I finished the almost-final draft of my next book, Know Thyself: The (Im)Perfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. Though my deadline is looming, I decided to let my completed manuscript sit while I spent the weekend celebrating my daughter's 21st birthday at a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden.

Because I finished my draft on Friday and had train time on both Saturday and Sunday, I thought maybe I'd see what my Casting the First Stone/ Chasing a Second Chance characters were up to. Unfortunately, it had been so long since I'd paid attention to them that they were feeling a tad uncooperative.

Or maybe it was me.

Writing on command, though a necessary strategy, is not always a fruitful one. It seems there's nothing like a deadline for one piece that makes another one seem more attractive. My mother would call that being fickle; John Perry would call it structured procrastination -- at least if I succumbed to the siren song of the "other" piece.

In any event, I'd hoped my train time this weekend would give me an opportunity to focus on blog posts and maybe creep a little closer to the end of the third MAC (Marita/Angel/Charli) book, but the blog topics weren't flowing any better than the MAC storyline.

But tonight, on our trip home, I peered out the window at one of our station stops, there it was. Inspiration. Not for anything I'm actually working on now, of course -- that would be too simple -- but, rather, background for a novel that's third or fourth in line. Inspiration for something I won't be able to seriously approach for sixth months or more.

What to do? The mature, responsible approach, some would argue, would be to keep nose to grindstone and tackle what I'd set out to work on. And that, of course, is exactly what I did not do.

Instead, I delved into that background, jotting down my ideas, doing some Google searches and feeling a character come to life a little more as I wrote about....

Well, I can't tell you that right now. It might spoil the story.

Pexels via Pixabay
My decision might not have been the mature, responsible one, but any writer worth her salt knows you don't ignore inspiration when it walks in and presents itself to you wrapped in a big, red bow (figuratively, of course). You cajole the inspiration, convincing it to linger a little longer so you can pepper it with as many questions as possible before it decides it's bored and slips off again, to new adventures and other writers.

And then you go back to your work in progress.

Or at least that's what I do because, when I get home, it's back to course planning and attacking the to-do list. As long as I'm on the train, time and inspiration are mine.

And I'd be a fool to squander either one of them.

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