17 November 2011

Please Don't Feed the Muse

It was all one big, practical joke.

I was all prepared for a writing extravaganza. Three days off from work, the first of which just so happened to be November 15, marking exactly nine months since I started my story. I sort of view it like an anniversary, and try to devote myself more to my writing as if that day is sacred.

But that sacred day went by with barely a single word written. It was just your average day of staring at the blank page. It was disappointing for sure, but what made it particularly frustrating was that I desperately wanted to write something. I felt that physical pull, the restless sort of itch that you feel in your gut, your brain, your fingers when you want the words to spill out. But there wasn’t a single idea that I could latch onto. I’ve often thought about taking a break from my book, but decided the effort would be useless because I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it and the separation would only break my heart.

So I went to bed early, planning to get up early and spend the whole day brainstorming, outlining, reading—whatever was going to get the ideas flowing.

Enter problem number two. I couldn’t sleep that night. Why exactly? Too many ideas. I don’t know what got me thinking about it in the first place. I always brainstorm before falling asleep, but for some reason this time was different. I’ve always thought to myself that I’d love to write a sequel some day, if I could come up with a good enough idea, one that could stand up to the original. Nothing so far was ever good enough, but I always envision different outcomes for my characters just to see what could happen to them.

For some reason, every idea was suddenly falling into place. I finally liked this particular future and it made sense. So I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I wasn’t really planning on writing any of it, just picturing it in my head for a little while as a sort of indulgence. But when you start picturing characters, they start talking. And sometimes those words are too good to let slip away.

“Ok,” I told myself, “just one scene of dialogue and that’s it.” But one scene led to another and another, and soon I couldn’t stop myself. I was cracking myself up with the one-liners, getting turned on by the sexy parts. It was like the beast could not be contained. And I realized something—haven’t I felt this exact way before?

Yes, I had. Exactly nine months ago, when this whole crazy thing started.

Son of a bitch, the muse got me. He played a trick on me and was laughing his ass off in the corner of my mind. I had lost a day of writing, lost a night of sleep, and in my attempts to write something different only made the bond with my character stronger. It was like being in some abusive relationship where I try to leave and he just laughs and says, "you can never leave!" But then I realize that I never wanted to leave in the first place.

I don’t know how long this reignited passion will last. Maybe by indulging my sequel fantasies I can somehow keep it alive. Or maybe just doing the unexpected.