Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hitting the Wall (or, I think my Muse is dead)

Once upon a time, it seemed as though I couldn't write fast enough to keep up with the ideas rattling around in my head. Story after story just appeared on the computer screen - maybe not perfect stories, but with a little revision, they each turned into saleable books. At one time, I actually thought, I could not write for two years and still have xx amount of manuscripts to submit.

Yeah. That's not really the case any longer.

When you're submitting, and waiting, it's kind of a like a little rest. You can take some time off (not much, but a little), but I never seem to be able to really do that. It seems once the pressure is off (is the query okay? Does my synopsis make sense? Did I remember the SASE? Oh, tell me I remembered to sign my email!!), my thoughts flow so much more freely. I come up with ideas, manage to flesh out conflicts and create believable characters.

Ah... it's wonderful...


I think my Muse is dead. Or on life-support. Over the last three months, I've started three new stories. And by page 30, I seem to hit a wall. I surf the net. I read blogs. In general, I procrastinate because nothing is as disheartening as a blank computer screen and no idea where the story should go next.

It's so frustrating because it's not something I've ever dealt with before. It makes sense, as before I was mostly writing for myself. But now, with a few books behind me, and a few fan letters in my inbox, I realize that I'm no longer writing for me now. I'm building up some name recognition and I want to keep the momentum going. That means I need to write something new. And now.

That's the caveat. As a writer, of course I want people to like my books and want to read more. I want to deliver the best book I can writer. That's additional stress right there. There's more than enough stress before a writer is published, but it seems magnified once a writer's been published. And that just beats the stuffing out of my muse.

First, there's the fear that nothing I write will be as good as what I've written. And, what if I've already written the book of my heart (a phrase that makes me cringe to a certain extent)? What if I never sell again? What if I do, and everybody hates it?

Well, those are a few things that will keep that stupid Muse from poking her nose into my office again.

So I put off writing, which certainly doesn't help. I work on a revision. I check email. Anything to keep from facing that blank screen. I even learned to knit, thinking the break might coax that muse back into my office.

None of it worked.

There's only one thing left.

Butt in Chair. Words on screen. Eventually, it'll all work itself out.


Seeley deBorn said...

You mean it's not all sunshine lollipops and rainbows once I sign a contract?? I'm crushed.


Seriously though, I don't know anything about your process (Plotter, pantzer, linear, etc) but have you tried writing backwards from the end?

Confusing at first, but can be fun.

Kim said...

Wow - I never thought of that - sounds like a pretty cool idea. I'm usually a pantser, but I've been trying to outline the new story.

I'm definitely going to try that - thanks for the suggestion! =)

Marian said...

I've heard that's what Margaret Mitchell did - wrote the last chapter of GWTW first. Then worked out what had happened to her main characters to get them to that point.

Of course, Mitchell was writing about an intensely personal situation. IIRC Rhett was based on a man she loved and lost, so maybe that was one reason she could start at the end.

Kim said...

I remember hearing that Rhett was based on an old flame - but I didn't know she wrote the book from the end. I think it sounds like a good idea - I'm going to try it because right now, my characters are stranded on page 40. But hey - I got past page 30, right! =)