Muse and Writer Dialogues #15 In Which I am Desultory

Scene: Writer at his desk, staring at the screen. In other words, Monday.

Writer: Crap

Muse (reluctantly putting in an appearance): You again?

Writer: You’re my muse, so who else? And before you ask, yes, I’m having trouble.

Muse: I wasn’t going to ask. Laddie, you are trouble.

Writer: So you’re Scottish now?

Muse: Just an expression, a whim, you know—creative license. You should try it sometime.

Writer: Very funny. I need some inspiration.

Muse: You need a lot more than that. Besides, inspiration is overrated. Yes, you’ve managed the “butt in chair, blank screen” part of the work ethic, but so far you’ve left out the “putting one word after another” part.

Writer: This, I know. But what words?

Muse: If I knew that, I’d be the writer. Your problem is you’re desultory.

Writer: Maybe right now…

Muse: Luke warm? Half-hearted? You’re failing to understand the nuances of the word and all the synonyms in the world don’t do it justice. The full meaning is more along the lines of “without a purpose, a plan, or enthusiasm.”

Writer: Ouch…but accurate.

Muse: The truth often hurts. Why do you think so many people—not to mention politicians—try to hide it?

Writer: It’s not always the truth.

Muse: No, but it always is at the start. You begin weak and finish strong. You generate a purpose, a plan, and then enthusiasm, but not until the first several words are written. Most writers I know start off strong, inspired, and enthusiastic then get worn down. They’re desultory toward the end, not the beginning. You’re opposite. It’s a little weird, to tell the truth again.

Writer: Just how many other writers do you know?

Muse: Neither here nor there. And a lady never inspires and tells.

Writer: So you’re saying?

Muse (sighs): Put some words down, idiot. Doesn’t matter what they are, since you’ll change them once you figure out what you’re doing. The magic won’t happen until then. Inspiration, for what it’s worth, is a lot more important during the process than at the start.

Writer: I wouldn’t mind a little inspiration at the start.

Muse (sighs again, a little disgusted): Listen, twerp. You almost always know what you want to do from the beginning, in a general way, but not how. You hesitate because of uncertainty and fear that this time you won’t be able to pull it off, doesn’t matter how bloody many times you’ve been in the same place feeling the same thing. Once you get going, a fuller and more focused purpose, plan, and enthusiasm all fall into line. I would have thought at the very least you’d have picked up a clue about that by now.

Writer: You said it yourself—I’m a little slow out of the blocks.

Muse: Slow? By the starting gun you haven’t even gotten your shoelaces tied. Words. Now.

Writer: Okay. “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Muse: Don’t make me hurt you.

Writer: You said it didn’t matter what they were.

Muse: Well, I lied. Call it creative license.

 

Context is for Wimps

Today’s blog post is a snippet from the current WIP. It will be perfectly clear and yet totally meaningless. When I’m far enough along I’ll think about doing weekly  full chapters at least part of the way through, but I’m not there yet.

 

Bonetapper scowled. “How will we get through the mountains?”

In truth, Marta had been giving that question some thought. There were two main routes commonly used. The Snake Pass was currently blocked, and even if it wasn’t that would take them further east to Conmyre, a long way from Shalas. Not to mention the pilgrim road crossed Wylandian territory for some miles. While travelers were protected by treaty, it wasn’t a physical threat Marta was worried about. Three Rivers Pass led to Borasur-Morushe, much closer to Shalas, and that was the path Sela and Prince Dolan had taken. As much as she would have liked to see them again, after the events in the Blackpits they had all agreed this was unwise, at least for a while. It might be possible to traverse Borasur-Morushe unnoticed, but more likely not. Plus she would have to cross Duke Okandis’ territory to reach Shalas, and he was a man with a grudge. Having met the man she had his measure, but—as with her friends Sela and Dolan—he was a complication. And Marta had her fill of complications for the time being.

Not that she would have hesitated to take either of those routes, even the blocked pass, if she could feel the pull of the Sixth Law in either direction. That was her next goal and priority, but at the moment she felt nothing.

Bonetapper, noting her silence, spoke again. “May I make a suggestion?”

“If you wish.”

“What about that magician fellow in the Blackpits? He’s used to moving freely about and might know the best way to get back to Shalas.”

“Tymon? We’ll see him again. I’m not sure if that’s for good or ill, but it will happen. But not yet. Besides, while he does travel freely, we cannot use his methods. No, there’s only one way.”

Marta reached into her pouch and took out the map she’d copied from an old scroll in Kuldun. “We’re going to take the Penitent’s Road. That way we can reach Shalas without having to cross Borasur-Morushe at all.”

Bonetapper cocked his head, which was as close as the raven could manage to a frown. “I thought the Penitent’s Road was a myth.”

“It is. Doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

 

Yamada Evolution

I spent a fair chunk of yesterday going over the editor’s line edits for the second new Yamada story, “A Minor Exorcism.” Rereading it reminded me of how much the character’s life has changed since the events of The War God’s Son and The Emperor in Shadow.

Now he’s got a wife he adores, three daughters, an adopted son, an estate with no fewer than six villages and their people who are all his responsibility. Sort of makes it hard to just tear off chasing ghosts and monsters any time he wants. His situation has changed and so his perspective has changed.

In short, Yamada has changed. He still does what he does best, though lately he’s not looking for monsters—the monsters are finding him.

I can understand the appeal of books and stories where there is simply one adventure after another with people who are just the same in book 1 as they are in book 4 or 5. They’re known and comfortable. You always know what you’re getting. Yet we all know life doesn’t work that way. Situations and people both change. Living does that.

Character or not, Yamada is alive to me. And that means change.

 

See You on the Other Side

It’s that time of year again, full of holidays. For those observing Christmas, it’s either the most “Wonderful Time of the Year” or an entire month of almost unendurable stress. Sometimes both, in which case, good luck. One thing it definitely is?

Undeniable.

We’re all affected, whether we want to be or not. we’re all in it together.

So for those barely holding on, I hear you. For those looking forward to everything and to those just wishing that maybe, this year, it won’t be a complete disaster? I know how you feel in both instances. How about those who can’t wait to be with their families and for those who can’t wait for a good excuse not to visit or be visited? Only you know which is valid for you.  For those who can’t wait for it get here and for those who can’t wait for it to be over? Virtual hugs to both and all.

Soon the old year will be gone and a new one begun. Maybe we’ll do a better job this time around. Maybe we’ll barely survive. “Barely” counts. Big time. Regardless, a new year is a new beginning. Yes, I know. When we begin or end a year is an artificial construct. Sort of a story we tell ourselves and we all agree to for convenience if nothing else. Doesn’t make it any less real. And, as the Zen philosophers say, “It’s always the first time.” Take it fresh, whatever you do.

Here’s to the good fight in the old year, and a better year ahead.

See you on the other side.

Brief Commercial Announcement

Right now I need to be working on my last piece of flash fiction for the year (and about a dozen other things), but I’m leaving a quick note just so no one can say I didn’t tell anybody: I’m doing a countdown deal on the ebook  of Ghost Trouble: The Casefiles of Eli Mothersbaugh. The price will be  $.99 for another two days, then up to $1.99 before it returns to its regular price. Anyone interested in a paranormal detective with as many human troubles as the ghostly sort, here’s a cheap way to try it.

I now return you to your regular non-self-promotional  silence until next time.