Inspiration, Indecision, and Squirrel-possessed Muses

18

June 22, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue

Sourde: sciencephoto.com

Sourde: sciencephoto.com

It started so innocently. A single flash of inspiration just as I was drifting off to sleep, yet so powerful was that mind-searing image, I sat bolt upright, heart hammering, knowing, knowing that THIS was it. This was the idea that needed to be written.

And then there’s no going back to sleep until you’ve scribbled down as much of the jumbled images as possible.

This has happened to me five times.

I wrote well over 100k of the first idea before realizing it was too big and would have to be broken down into more than one book. So, I re-plotted, started rewriting, and then several chapters in… all the magic was just gone. I couldn’t do it. It was too big, too overwhelming, too massive in scope. My epic fantasy story was apparently too epic for a rookie like me. My beloved first character, Alexis, has since sat gathering dust in the archives of a digital cloud.

A few months later: the flash, the jolt, the stumbling out of bed to find a notebook, and the furiously scribbling until the wee hours of the morning when my hands were too cramped and my brain too mushy too continue. And Jac was born along with the original basis for Murphy’s First Law.

I finished the first draft in 3 months, I think. Much faster than the year the first twenty some chapters of Alexis’s story took. And hey, I actually wrote an ending! That’s progress!

I know that feel, bro.

Then I started working on revisions and started hating the whole story. No, that’s not true, I still love much of it. I just can’t seem to fix what feels wrong with it and all attempts just make me feel worse and worse about the writing process in general.

I have now written approximately twenty different versions of the opening chapters and none of them work like I really want. Not one seems to address the concerns of my beta readers and critique partners as a whole, and none of them make me happy.

On the plus side, I’ve had all new kinds of ideas about possible systems of magic, fantasy cosmologies, the psychology and behavioral traits of various supernatural races, interesting character interactions and motivations. I even came up with an entirely different approach to writing the first book in Jac’s series and wrote several different opening versions of that story.

In the meantime, I’ve also had three other midnight story flashes and can’t seem to focus on any one of them.

Ouroboros: Endless possibilities, cyclicity, or just self cannibalization? Source: Zombieduck on deviantART

There’s just too many possibilities, all so sparkly and tempting in their own right that I can’t pick just one to work with. Yeah, I’m that girl. The one who thinks everything on the menu at a restaurant looks awesome and will waffle back and forth trying to decide until her party finally gets annoyed and just calls the waitress to take their orders. I still insist on ordering last to have just a few moments longer to choose, then regret whatever I do tell the waitress the minutes she walks off.

It occurs to me that I should probably only go to restaurants with buffets…

With my writing, though, there’s no exasperated waitress glaring at me to make up my mind, no one pressuring me to make a decision, no one hurrying me along. And buffet-style isn’t really an option.

So, what’s a girl to do? Especially when the sixth flash occurred just a few nights ago. And not just any flash, this flash told me how to fix Alexis’s story. The premier, the original, my firstborn could potentially have new life!

But, that would mean backburnering Jac for months, maybe years. And I can’t drop the feeling that Jac is much closer to completion. There’s just something missing. One missing puzzle piece that if I could just locate it hiding under the table, stuffed under a couch cushion, or lurking in the dog’s toy bin I could finish the whole thing and make it work.

If I could just find that piece, I could polish off the story. Make it ready for publishing.

But, then again…

This is where I live.

God! It’s like trying to choose between a hot fudge sundae and creme brulee. If you were making both yourself and in choosing one you couldn’t have the other again for a long time. And if there was no guarantee that you could even get hot fudge for your sundae. Ok, maybe the analogy doesn’t work so well.

So, yeah, I think I’m going insane with indecision and it’s not helping that I think one of the ninja squirrels possessed my Muse, and is making her drink several pots of coffee a day to keep her in a hyperactive, highly distractable state, where every thought that passes through her mind is the Most Absolute Awesome Thing Ever, for exactly five minutes until she thinks of something else.

Source: Google Images

I’m fairly certain the next time someone tells me they’re thinking of writing a book that I’m going to send them a gift wrapped straight-jacket, custom embroidered with their initials.

Would that be tacky?

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18 thoughts on “Inspiration, Indecision, and Squirrel-possessed Muses

  1. Gus Sanchez says:

    There’s a smothered, covered, and chunked joke I so badly want to make about your many drafts, but I should shut up since I’m also hanging out at the Waffle House. And the coffee sucks.

  2. kokkieh says:

    At least you have a first draft and a wealth of ideas. I’d settle for either at this stage 😉

  3. I wish I had those moments of inspiration more often! It seems like they never come and I am completely stalled as far as editing a first draft of my NaNoWriMo 2012 novel.

  4. That straight jacket’s a good idea, but unfortunately it might just encourage some writers… 🙂

  5. L. Marie says:

    Sometimes I’m convinced that the writing life is insane. But I don’t think I’d have it either way. I’m glad you’re getting those flashes of inspiration. I get those at 3 a.m. sometimes and have to reach for my notebook.

  6. L. Marie says:

    And by “either way” I meant “any other way.” Sigh. I need coffee.

  7. Dave Higgins says:

    I suspect all writers have the same lots of great ideas followed by a slump between the first section and the finished manuscript. I certainly have a back catalogue of opening scenes and half-expanded outlines.

    So my writing goal for this year is to not start anything I do not finish: so far I am on target.

    As a novel is a long block of time (however you slice it) my current strategy is to deliberately write short stories/novellas until I am certain I can commit to writing the same thing from start to finish without starting a new work. Whenever I get a shiny new idea I put it in my notebook and leave it; it might be the next story I work on, it might not.

    To add variety I allow myself to start outlining/fiddling with a new idea when I reach the editing phase of the current project provided I keep on editing.

    If you are not currently I the right place to commit to one thing for months (and there is no shame in that) then it might help you to try writing something smaller while you edit an existing manuscript, so you can practice pushing past the shiny new ideas.

  8. JP McLean says:

    I hadn’t realized “hot fudge sundae and creme brulee” was an either/or choice? Damn.

  9. Laura Brown says:

    I come up with most of my ideas at night. Instead of writing them down I play them out multiple times, desperate to remember them in the morning, losing more sleep then if I wrote the idea down! The inspiration is great, making it work is the trick. As a rule I try and stick with one project at a time, but when inspired will get at least that inspiration out in a tangible form to be looked at later.

    I also live very happily on my straight jacket and welcome the voice in my head…

  10. Christopher says:

    I feel like you’ll always get the best stuff out when you go where your heart is taking you. At least in a situation like this where you have 2 projects that are well-formed. You might want to finish Jac, but if you’ve got the push for working on Alexis, you should use whatever momentum you can get!

  11. Finish Murphy, please. I want to know what happens to Jac 🙂 I feel the revision pain. Right now I’m sick to death of my own words. I’m also dying to start my next project. I, too, have so many wonderful ideas I want to chase. However, I’m trying to be brave enough to send my baby out into the world. I read somewhere that you write the best book you can at this time and let it go. Then you write the next one that is the best at that time (hopefully better). I have faith that you can figure out how to fix what’s bothering you with Murphy.

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