My Persistent Muse

MY MUSE

D. Wallace Peach put out a call on her Myths of the Mirror blog site challenging authors to write about their muse. I wasn’t going to write anything and then this happened. 🙂 True story!

Image courtesy of Pixabay

“Jan. Jan. Wake up.”

Someone taps on my shoulder.

I burrow deeper under the covers.

Louder this time. “Jan. Wake up.”

I groan and roll over with one eye open. “What do you want? I’m sleeping.”

“Yes, I know but wait until you hear this.”

I rub my eyes and yawn, then glance at the clock.

“It’s 4 am. I’m tired. I work hard and I need my rest. Can I just take some notes and get to it when the sun comes up?”

“No! If you do, you’ll lose it. Come on.” He reached out a hand and I took it, regretting that action.

Now on my feet, I shrug into a robe, slip on my fuzzy slippers and glance longingly back at my warm bed.

“Can I at least get a cup of coffee first?”

Deep sigh. “You humans. Yes, I suppose.”

I pad into the kitchen and flip on the light, blinking at the brightness. He taps his fingers impatiently on the kitchen counter while I set the magic elixir to brew.

I turn to face him. “Okay. Spill it. What is so damned important that you’ve dragged me out of bed away from my dreams?”

His face lights up. “Imagine this. A man has been cheating on his wife. She’s found out, and they’ve had a huge fight. Now, he’s left the house and driving around, angry and feeling a little remorseful. He spots a small rundown bar on the outskirts of town with a neon sign blinking off and on. He decides he needs a stiff drink. So, he goes in and some other stuff needs to happen, then he tries to leave only to find that the door opens one way – in. He’s trapped in a honky-tonk hell. What do you think?”

By now the coffee pot is beeping and I pour a big cup, then add a spash of cream. “It has potential, but it sounds like a horror story. I’ve never written anything in that genre.”

He’s practically jumping up and down. “I know. You can’t ever grow if you stay in your comfort zone. What do you have to lose?”

“A few more hours of sleep,” I reply grumpily.

“You do know that the hours between two and four a.m. are the most creative times in any twenty-four-hour cycle. Remember I told you that?”

I nod. “I remember.”

I settle in front of the computer and he paces behind me. My fingers fly across the keys.

I suddenly have the feeling of being alone. I turn to look and my muse is no longer in the room. I go in search of him and find him snuggled under a soft blanket on the sofa, snoring.

“Fine,” I say, and stomp back to the computer with a second cup of coffee.

Guess I’ll be writing a horror story after all, thanks to my persistent muse.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

What comes first?

April kicks off two separate short story writing competitions for me. So, I started going through my folder of ideas and characters and it struck me the varied ways stories come.

It made me wonder. Which comes first for you, as an author?

The story idea?

Or the Characters?

For me, it has come both ways. For my short story, “Maggie,” the characters came first, then the story idea followed.

For “Obsessed,” the story idea came first and the characters followed.

Is there any right or wrong way? Absolutely NOT! It is exactly the same concept with songwriting. Sometimes the melody comes first and the lyrics follow. Other times, the lyrics come and the melody follows. But, on rare occasions, both the melody and lyrics come together hand-in-hand.

That’s when there is magic!

And when the magic happens, the readers feel it. Or, in the case of music, the listeners.

In the first Creative Writing class I ever took, the professor asked the question, “What does every human have in common?”

Of course, the answers were that we breathe air, we drink water, we have to eat and require sleep. He agreed with all those answers, but he said the one characteristic that every human being possesses is the innate desire to feel something. The answers to “feel what?” are as varied as there are individuals. But, the desire to feel is present in everyone in some form or fashion.

As writers, it is our job to make sure that happens with our stories.

But, I’m curious. Which comes first for you? The story idea? Or the characters? Or, like with me, does it vary?