Wrangling the Muse

I started writing fiction in 2009.  My neighborhood friend, Nancy, and I decided to meet weekly-

OK, I hate this post already.  Excuse me while I go munch down a few Oreos.

We met weekly and exchanged ten pages of manuscript for feedback.  Ten pages a week.

My writing table is a pit, papers all over the place, gum wrappers, rubber bands.  Why do horizontal surfaces wind up covered within ten seconds?  It’s a volume issue.  If we could decrease the volume, there’d be less to spread around. 

Habit and accountability helped me churn out a draft of my first novel in six months.

The clanking of the dishwasher is not helping this situation.  I could get up and turn it off but then I’d really lose my train of thought.

I revised my manuscript with Nancy’s assistance, learning to let the precious words go.

Now the dogs are barking.  I’m looking out into the backyard and there is nothing going on back there.  Really.  The leaves are dancing on a light breeze but there are no humans, no bunnies, no feline invaders.

I researched how to write a query letter, how to find an agent, what to do with a growing pile of rejection letters.  And lo!  Ms. Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary Agency liked my book enough to offer representation!

If I yank off this hangnail it’ll surely bleed all over the keyboard.  I’ll have to get up and get a Bandaid.  My teeth just aren’t at the right angle.  I wonder if anyone ifs ever tempted to file a tooth into a knife, not a sharp point, but a more useful tool.  Hmm, serrated?

Marlene counselled me to start writing the next book.  The next book took me a year.  Nancy moved on to a paying gig.  I like to write at night and The Big E was still young enough to facilitate my nocturnal writing habit by GOING TO BED AT A REASONABLE HOUR.

I wonder if The Big E is actually getting enough sleep.  He can’t attend a high school that starts at 7 am.  I can’t believe I used to be at school at 7 for jazz band.  Ugh, and medical rotations that started at 6 am.   So not normal. 

Somewhere in the middle of this, I started books three, four, and five.  Marlene encouraged me to choose: Do you want to write New Adult (protagonist is about 18-25-ish) or Young Adult (protagonist is about 13-18)?  I settled into book five, putting three and four on the back burner.

I’m supposed to be in Inver Grove for a breastfeeding meeting at 1:30.  And I have to wrap fourteen chocolate bar gifts for the speakers at the upcoming conference.  I hope a ribbon is sufficient.  What would life look like if I got paid for all the work that I do?  Weird.  And why do people assume, because I’m an “at-home” parent, that I must have a ton of “free time”?

Book five.  I started in my usual way, with a girl, a teenager facing a huge life change.  This girl had her own ideas about how to tell her story.  Charlie’s not exactly a cooperative subject.  She’s stubborn and snarky and beholden to the siren song of hormones.

Rafa is really about the cutest dog I’ve ever seen.  Oh hi Baby!  You’re opening your eyes.  I think he’s older than the rescue thought.  Three in 2011 (best self-inflicted birthday gift ever) means eight in 2016.  But I’m afraid he’s at least ten.  Do you wanna sit on mommy’s lap?  Aw, you’re so snuggly and warm.  I need a nap.

At the end of three years, I’m almost finished with a draft of book five.  Three years.  Ugh.  I told myself I had to complete a decent draft by the end of the school year.  When I’m around The Big E it’s impossible to write.  My brain tangles with his and I can’t focus on anything besides fixing dinner, nagging him to finish homework, and –

You wanna get down, Baby?  Okay, there you go.  No no!  Don’t start coughing.  Definitely older than eight.  Will I get another pom when Rafa trots over the Rainbow Bridge?

And now the phone’s ringing.  X-tina!   (ten minutes pass)

If I got rid of the guest bed I could put a desk in there.  Stephen King says to get a room, a room with a door that you can close.  I’m pretty sure Ace and The Big E would ignore the message of a closed door.  Coffee shops are too loud.

I attended the Children’s and Young Adult Literature conference on Saturday and let me tell you-

(barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark)  Poppa’s home!  Much rejoicing!

Andrea Davis Pinkney rocks!  “Writers write every day under all circumstances.”  She backed up her assertion with a purple flip-flop, a purple flip-flop with pen scribbles all over it.  Ms. Pinkney rises at 4 am each day, traipses over to the Y, and works out in the pool.

“Sweetie!  What’s going on?  Are we going out for our drive, on our errands now?”

“What, where?”

“We’ve got lots to do, we have to go to Sofi’s house, we’ve got to take the stethoscopes in for repair.  C’mere Chester.”  (scratch scratch scratch)   

On one fateful day, she forgot her notebook.  Ms. Pinkney generally leaves her notebook poolside in case inspiration strikes.

“Okay, see you later.”

“Wait.  What?”

She did what any resourceful person would do;  She dried off her flip-flip and scribbled some notes in ballpoint on the rubbery stilted surface.

“Writers write every day under all circumstances.”

Musical Moment






This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Wrangling the Muse

  1. Michael Belfiore says:

    The hardest thing about writing is sitting down to do it. Everything else is gravy. Agents, boys, clanking machines, dogs, spouses, mental to-do lists, they’re all just noise. A room with a door is great. A set time every day during which nothing else is allowed to happen is better. You set the boundaries and everything and everyone else falls in line.

  2. Scott Moore says:

    Literary productivity rendered from chaotic surroundings is a bit like magic.

  3. stuart says:

    5 am, nice and quiet, no door needed

    • anne says:

      Holy cow! History has been made! Charming Husband posted a comment on my blog! 5 am? what? (cough cough cough cough cough)

  4. Rachael Hanson says:

    Maybe you’re more like me and Midnight – 2 am is your productive time. 5 am is for worm eating birds, not night owls.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *