It’s the second ‘Mindbenders’. I had a complete first draft but I plotted it out ahead of time, which I’ve never done before and that killed it for me. Once I wasn’t seeing it happening in front of me while I was writing, I lost all interest. So I threw out the beginning and I’m going to make up the end as I go. And that’s helped but even so, it’s started and stopped on me several times.
The last several weeks have been as smooth as I could remember – the Muse and I were cooking. And then yesterday I came to the first scene that pretty much came out of the old draft and the thing died on me again. The Muse wasn’t speaking, wasn’t even whispering near my ear. This happens–artists understand the Muse has lots of lovers to satisfy, though she insists (and convinces us to believe) that we’re the only one that matters.
There are certainly times when I mull a scene for a day or two because I don’t have it right but I can feel it next to me, just an inch away, so it’s not a concern. But this felt barren. It was as though that old version was a virus, that anytime I came close to it, I got infected again. Worse yet, it felt like I’d run out of juice, the thing you really worry about creatively.
I tried to open up communication last night but the Muse was on the other line. It happens. I meditated and went to sleep. Haven’t had much sleep lately.
Woke up this morning – nothing. That’s more disturbing. Usually sleep reracks all kinds of problems. So – on with the sneakers. I have calluses now–never had them before. They’re not fun but I run so I run with calluses.
I’ve run early the last few days – it isn’t quite as beastly hot first thing in the morning – but yesterday’s run was just short of suicidal. I felt it a couple times during the day, my body saying ‘That was stupid, pal.’ So today I was going to take it easy. And it fit the way I felt – listless. When she isn’t talking to me, everything’s uphill.
But once I got going, I noticed it wasn’t anywhere near as hot today. It was worse in the house with the AC struggling than it was outside. And then I started the long uphill section of the run and the music in my headphones kicked in and I stopped thinking and worrying and missing anything and – there it was.
I’m writing a thriller. The characters are supposed to do something at every turn, take the initiative, make things happen. But this time, all at once, I wondered: what if they don’t do anything? What if they stop trying ? What if they just wait and see? What happens then? And from there, the whole scene changed. It turned into three or four scenes and gave me a whole other layer for the rest of the book.
I promised myself when I started rewriting it that this book would ignore convention whenever it wanted to. It’ll still be a thriller – I enjoy the action parts and have most of those worked out already. The difference might even be invisible to the reader. But it’ll be fertile for me, because it’ll put the emphasis back on the characters, who are really all I care about.
You can’t fight the Muse and you can’t run after her. It’s a relationship – it ebbs and flows like any other. Sometimes, you get better gifts than you can imagine and more of them, all at once, than you thought possible. And sometimes – other times – you just have to find the Muse inside yourself.