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A-Muse-Ing April 28, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in business, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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It’s a business. Writing. It’s not something to be done only if you feel like it (not if you expect to pay the mortgage or eat anything but nine-banded (they’re the best) armadillos–thanks for passing that along, Gordon, but Texans are born knowing the roadkill beasties carry leprosy and pass it along.) Writing can seem like an endurance contest if you hit a long stretch where nothing seems right. But it’s a job or better, a career. You’re the professional and have to keep going. Either that or find something else to do.

This isn’t writer’s block, which I intellectually understand but have never experienced. This is more of a lethargy block. Laziness? It’s far too easy to blame it on the muse escaping the shackles you placed on the ankle. Mostly it is about what you are writing. If the story isn’t exciting enough to get you involved and keep you parading words on the page, it’s not likely to be exciting enough for anyone else.

Solution: put it aside and do something else that does excite you. If it’s not writing, then research. You need to do that anyway, so read something that has bearing on that project or a new one. Then get back to the writing. Always come back–and finish what you start.

There’s a related problem I just wrestled to the ground and pinned for a three-count. I got into a western short story for the Western Fictioneers anthology, “The Silver Noose,” and found myself with too many possible endings. I had to choose between three different ones and, actually, had a couple more nebulous ones drifting through the brainpan. I might not have chosen the best ending for the story but it suited me, the characters, the plot and logically followed from the setup. Take away: writing is about decisions. Make them. Then move on.

Where you get inspiration is one thing. It’s another to think that the only time you work is when that new idea tickles your fancy.

But as this Non Sequitur cartoon shows, there may be an anti-muse–it’s known as everyday life. Rage, rage against the dying of the inspiration (because it’s yours, not something imposed from outside).

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