Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Waiting for the Muse to Alight

Bru-nO via Pixabay

As the days of January tick by, bringing the start of the semester closer and closer, I've been trying to get myself on a semester schedule. This means adjusting bedtimes and wake times, of course, but also reinstating the BIC (butt-in-chair) time I instituted last fall to try to make sure writing time didn't get swept away by a deluge of papers to grade.

How am I doing? 

Don't ask.

My BIC time got pushed back a little later than I'd planned today but, despite the reprieve, my motivation was nowhere to be found. Apparently simply writing it on the calendar doesn't guarantee that my muse will write it on hers, let alone show up to keep our appointment. 

I had a few choices. I could skip the BIC time altogether (not really what I had in mind). Or, I could bonk my muse over the head and drag her kicking and screaming into BIC time (that never works). 

So, I was left with choice #3. I had to cajole the muse. I had to tiptoe into writing and, with any luck make the task at hand so tempting that she couldn't resist joining me.

Last weekend, when I was cleaning and organizing my office, I came across a stash of writing articles I had clipped. I weeded out the ones I knew I wouldn't read and set the rest aside to read and use for brainstorming or writing exercises. Today, I sat down with a few of them and began to read. 

Totally non-threatening, right?

It wasn't long before the muse peeked in and tiptoed over to join me, nudging me to grab a pencil and make notes in the margins of the articles. I was on a roll, planning out what I wanted to do with all this great info when....

The phone rang. My daughter. 

I never turn down a phone call from my daughter.

After brainstorming something completely different with her, I hung up and returned to the articles. The muse gave me the cold shoulder for a few minutes but, by the time I reached for my notebook, she was ready to cooperate. 

On her terms. 

Not that notebook. new notebook.

Did I mention that the muse is also bossy? Given that she's my muse, that probably went without saying but, there you have it.

Why a new notebook? Because working on characters for a work-in-progress in a notebook filled with other unrelated ideas was going to make it unnecessarily hard to find those ideas when I returned to writing the novel those characters inhabited.

By the end of the session, I'd chosen a new notebook from my collection (yes, I have a collection -- and not just any notebook would do!). I christened the notebook "What a Character!" and got to work. 

moshehar via Pixabay

Henceforth (the muse made me use that word), I can work on all of my characters in that notebook. That way, I know just where to look when I want to retrieve those ideas and weave them into my story.

As usual, the muse was right. She may be capricious and a bit stubborn, but she's worth waiting for.

Or cajoling.

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