MY MUSE IS BACK!
I don’t know where she’s been lately, but this morning my Muse returned in a flash of inspiration. Unplanned and unexpectedly I began having some very definite ideas for writing a sequel to my novel, The Raven Watched.
Suddenly, as I prepared food for the cats and cleaned litter pans, I found myself “telling” a completely new story in my head. It unfolded into clear scenes and a beginning plot while I washed dishes. Finally I had to put down my dishcloth and go to the table to scribble this exciting new story idea into my notebook.
Of course this is only a beginning inspiration. A kind of skeleton scaffold to go back and build upon over the weeks and months ahead. Rarely does an author find an entire cohesive plot all at once, but instead story ideas kind of build upon some very sketchy images or phrases or scenes which may even be eliminated from the final piece in the end. But it is truly an exciting moment and a fulfilling feeling… exhilarating… thrilling… to find the impetus to actually sit down and start writing that first draft!
“The Raven Watched” began with a short sentence that would not leave me: “The raven watched the old woman dying.” With that simple line I constructed a scene of an old woman lying on a hammock on her porch with some women surrounding her, playing music and listening to her final words of wisdom. In that scene her spirit joins with the raven and flies away.
This was the kernel from which the novel evolved, and it survived slightly altered in the final work. Yet the story and plot veered far from that simple idea. So it will go with my new “inspiration” as well, but I feel liberated at the moment having had a glimpse of what that next book could become. Excited to get back to actually writing and constructing the chapters as they will unfurl in writing.
What is particularly exciting to me about writing is how the words sort of come “out of nowhere”, often appearing on the page without my consciously having thought them. Not that I am unaware of the ideas or in a trance of some kind… just that often a story takes a life of its own and I find my original ideas subtly or drastically altered in surprising ways. The characters appear in places and doing things I had not expected to write, yet when I see it on the computer page I know it is what was supposed to happen, it makes the plot move in new and exciting ways that I had not envisioned beforehand.
Of course this can also lead into a blind alley from which I then have to trace my thoughts backward to find the thread I was following. But along the way I may find yet other tidbits to add zest and spark up the story as it unwinds.
There really are no bad ideas, just some that need to be re-framed, put into a different context, or just set aside for use in a different tale later. My notebooks are full of these orphaned ideas and, on their own, can be entertaining to browse through in an idle moment. With such leisurely activity I have occasionally been jolted into action by a new inspiration found among the scribbles.
The process of writing, for me, is something of a magical event. Of course it is possible to become “enchanted” by the words I write and the images I conjure so that it becomes difficult in the end to sort the good from the mediocre parts. We authors can fall in love with our own words and become blind to our tripe, rubbish and drivel.
Nevertheless, today I feel wonderfully ready to hit the keys and begin my next story! I only hope I can keep this determination alive while I attend to other less inspiring matters still awaiting completion.