more muse musings

You know, it occured to me yesterday, while I was gadding about reading emails, playing games, and generally avoiding writing a big fight scene, that maybe the reason the muse is refusing the buckle down is because I’m writing the fourth book of a series no one has seen yet. The first three books are untested–I have no idea whether people are going to love or hate these books and these characters, and the muse is reacting to this.

Of course, being unsure about your writing and your books is a normal state for most writers (tho I’m sure the stars of the various genres–Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Laurell K Hamilton, Clive Cussler, Dick Francis etc, don’t spend a whole lot of their writing time worrying about whether their audience is going to love or hate their next book). But most of us never get to those stellar heights, and most of us do worry. Let’s be honest–most writers write not just because they love it, but because they want to make a living out of it, and to do that, writers have to sell books. But if ever there is one thing that can stop a muse in its tracks, it’s fear. And it comes in all different forms. Fear of rejections stops some from ever submitting, as does fear of becoming a success and not being able to keep up with the pace. Then there’s the fear of never being good enough–something I’ve struggled with my whole writing life. Of course, this particular fear wasn’t helped by the fact that I was writing paranormal romance and urban fantasy well before Christine Feehan or Laurell K Hamilton proved there was a market for such books. And in some ways, it also wasn’t helped by the fact that I’m in a crit group that has some bloody brilliant writers. Writers who have struggled, just like me, to get published. And the little demon of doubt was always there on my shoulder, always prodding me and reminding me that if those brilliant people couldn’t get published, why the hell should I?

Of course, actually getting published didn’t shut the little doubter up. She just found new avenues to exploit. Which is where I’m at now. Worrying that I’m writing a book no one will ever see. Which hasn’t actually stopped me from writing it. Despite all the attempts of avoidence yesterday, I did actually write–and finish–the big fight scene. I ended up completing ten pages overall, which helped make up for the pages I didn’t write the day before. I also got a clearer idea of how this book is going to get to the ending, and it should be a humdinger. I’m learning, however slowly, that I simply can’t allow fear to get the better of me anymore. No writer who wants to make a living out of this gig can. And it is a wonderful gig. Despite all the fears and doubts, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing right now.

Although if I could make a living eating chocolate and not put on weight while doing so, I might just consider a career jump :D

excuses and reluctant muses

It’s amazing how many ways there are to avoid writing when you don’t really feel like it. There’s emails to answer, background information to check, new monsters to kill and harder levels to master in unreal or soldier of fortune (the only two games on my computer–mainly because it’s not powerful enough to run the more modern shoot-em-ups. Which is probably a blessing in disguise even if it is frustrating). Hell, there’s even this blog to ramble in :)

Being deadline free is good in one sense–I can write what I want, unrestricted by said deadlines and expectations. Which is an excellent place to be considering the trouble my muse has been giving me over the last year with books that were contracted but not yet written.

The trouble comes when the muse wants to play rather than work.

Over the years, I’ve fought this. In many respects, I still do–in as much as I feel horribly guilty when I’m sitting at the computer playing shoot-em-ups rather than writing. But the truth is, I can afford to give my muse time off now. I quit Essendon to become a full time writer, and while it’s taken me a while to get used to the freedom, I’ve got more than enough time on my hands now to do anything I want. Within reason, of course. I have a target of five pages a day. Most days I make that, even if, like today, the pages are written at night rather than during the day. It’s no longer important when it’s written, as long as it is written. It’s a good place to be, and probably the reason why the muse is starting to come good again (fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that).

But sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves. To get published, we have to write, we have to finish books, we have to submit, and submit, and resubmit–all inbetween a regular life and family and work. It’s never easy, and yet for some reason, we often feel it should be. Why? I don’t know. Writing isn’t a hobby for most of us, it’s a job. Which means, in many respects, most of us are actually juggling two or three jobs while trying to avoid being total hermits. Is it any wonder the muse sometimes plants her feet and says no?

For all the stress we writers put ourselves under, it’s actually a wonder the muse performs at all.

A New Baby

Congrats to my friend, Diane, whose mare gave birth to the cutest little buckskin filly yesterday. It’s her first one this season, and they’re always special :)

My first spam

I feel so special…I just got my first spam comment :D

To stop this becoming a regular event, I’ve had to turn on the moderate function. Before you can post a comment, you’ll now have to type in a word. Sorry about the inconvenience, but I figure it’s the only way to stop those automated spamming pests.

The beast is completed

I’ve finally finished the Penumbra galley, and boy, am I ever glad to see the back of this story. Don’t get me wrong–despite all the frustration Penumbra caused, what with the reluctant muse and a plot line that refused to go where originally intended, I think I’ve ended up turning out one of my better stories. It’s just that this story seems to have been with me forever. It’s the only story that’s ever taken me a year and a half to write (well, aside from the novels I wrote when I was first getting into writing seriously, and they will never see the light of day unless they have a complete and utter rewrite). Add to that the edits, line edits and galley, and I’ve read this novel so often I can just about recite the thing out loud. And that’s a huge problem when you’re supposed to be checking a galley for mistakes–it’s hard to find said mistakes when you’re reading what should be there rather than what is there. I actually had to edit the galley in small chunks–it took longer, but at least it kept my sight from glazing over and the words from melding together. I know proofreading is all part of the business of writing–but honestly, it’s just so easy to let mistake slip through without ever intending it. People always complain about the mistakes in books–and yeah, in the end, it does come down to the author being responsible–but sometimes I wish those complainers could just sit in our shoes for a while, and see that proofreading isn’t always as easy as it looks. Especially when you’ve read the book a gadzillion times.

Anyway, my next goal in my writing life is to try and get Dangerous Games–the fourth Riley book–finished. I’m actually hoping to get it done by the end of December, and to this end, have decided to join Freya’s 50 000 words or bust December challange. There’s a booze up at the end (always a good thing!) and the loser has to sing celine dion karaoke (not something anyone wants to hear me sing.) I may not get the whole 50 000 words done, but if I can finish Dangerous Games— which only has about 150 pages to go–and get a chunk of the Lockness book done, that’ll be an excellent way to start the new year.