Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Muse Wrestling (A Bit Like Mud Wrestling)

I was chatting on Facebook to the Badly Behaved Boy yesterday. He has an overdue 2000 word essay to write and yet his poor Muse is cowering in a dusty corner with a wet towel about her head, moaning about the effects of a bucketload of cheap vodka, too many late nights and ill-preparation on the required reading front. She threatens to desert altogether, and leave him to the mercies of the dreaded last resort of Amazon-synopsis-and-reviews. Maybe he will coax and cozen her out of it, being a resourceful and charming person, and the essay will be a joy unto his tutors. Just maybe. But I hae ma doots.

My Muse, however, is not treated so badly, and yet I have to wrestle with her recalcitrance on a regular basis. Last summer, she deserted me altogether in the early stages of a teenage novel. Although I have written many books, novel-writing is still...well...novel. This one had a grand arc and scale--it was to be two books, stretching over a long time span and many nations. But suddenly, having been all bright-eyed and keen, my Muse revolted. She refused me inspiration, bound a dark cloth over my creative mind, and threw me down into the slippery, muddy pit that is labelled 'writer's block', where I wrestled her hard and fruitlessly for months. Despite much good and useful advice from many writing friends, I have to admit that I gave up. Sometimes admitting defeat and putting work away in the bottom drawer for a while is the best thing you can do for your writing sanity. There is nothing so demoralising as the muddy pit.

I started another novel (which came as a bit of a surprise when the Muse, perhaps as a kind of apology, slipped it into my head). This one has gone better, though it is still raw, and there is a lot of work to do moving around plot and chapters into a form that will (perhaps) please the Omnipotent Editor one day. (Just as an aside here--no one tells you, by the way, how much frelling waiting around you do as a writer, longing for decisions and opinions from your publisher.) While I was waiting for that same Omnipotent Editor to do his stuff--not wanting to write more on Novel 2 in case it was all wrong--the Muse popped in. "Why don't you take another look at Novel 1?" she purred, all nice now, as if the wrestling in the pit had never occurred. So I did. You don't argue with her when she's being nice. Actually, Novel 1 is rather good. And I can see where to go. And I can see that it should be only one novel now, not two. Probably. My Muse and I are currently in charitable harmony, no pistols to the head, muddy pits, or wrestling required. But I forsee that the tricky Matter of the Two Prophecies will set us at odds again. That's the trouble with bringing deities with minds of their own into the writing equation. She's jealous of her status, my Muse. Perhaps I should get out my old boxing gloves for this round.


Anne Rooney said...

Lovely, Lucy :-) I love the idea of a muddy muse. Where does she go to wash? Does muse-mud have special properties, do you think? My muse is short of patience. If the book doesn't go well, or my agent does like it, she's off in a huff and not prepared to put in extra work for ages. I don't think she's chunky enough to wrestle - she's more a kick-boxing type of muse.

Lucy Coats said...

She has supernatural powers of cleanliness, so mud doesn't stick and she doesn't ever have to wash, unless she wants to bathe in the springs of Parnassus. While I'm getting down and dirty in the pit, the mud merely moves away from her white robe and onto me. This is possibly why a shower is neccessary after a hard writing session.

Mary Hoffman said...

Are you sure she's female?

Lucy Coats said...

Oh yes. Definitely female. But positively Amazonian in stature!

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