Wednesday, June 8, 2011
If You See Her, Say Hello...
I look back at the five or so years that have passed since I published "Welcome to Storyville" and think of all the false starts at creative writing I've had since. A dozen or so short stories that just stop around the middle of page four or five, and an abandoned novel that hits the skids on page 109.
Mind you, I haven't been coasting on the success of my $9.43 royalty checks from "Storyville". I just somehow thought life was going to be more accommodating as the kids got older. I'd be this writing machine, who cranked out corporate creative documents for four or five hours a day and then spent the rest of the day with a laptop, a Venti coffee, and my adorable little muse dancing from shoulder to shoulder cheering, "Yeah...that's it...another day, another short story!"
But she's been mercilessly silent. Stephen King warned me - all of us with an artistic bent, actually - that the muse doesn't just 'show up'. You have to show up, the same time and place every day, until she finds you. Then, if you're good to her, she'll stay.
Some of my excuses are good ones: raising two great kids, a business that is busier than ever, taking more time with work projects to assure clients are raving fans, Little League, PTA, exercising, etc. Some of my excuses are not up to snuff: Facebook, glazing over during bad TV shows, Facebook, and oh, yeah...Facebook. That social networking monkey has its feet well dug into the shoulder I am sure my muse once resided upon.
So, with three solid ideas for short story collections - not even short stories, just thematic structure to create some stories, I am looking for the inspiration to wade back into the pool again. Whether it's dusting off what's is already half-written and seeing what can be salvaged, or starting with the intimidating vision of a sparse, blank white page, I am hopeful to get back into the habit of writing because I love it.
The first job is to remind myself of why I'm writing. It has to be for the sheer joy of dancing with the muse, no matter how graceless my steps may be. Writing to impress others rarely serves its purpose. Also, there's no one standing in line at B&N waiting for my next self-published collection of sloppy little tales. Just take my time...when I'm done, I'm done, be it before Grady starts middle school or finishes middle school.
Finally, and here's the hard part, I have to get the aforementioned monkey off my shoulder before the muse has land to light upon. Facebook and such have actually replaced writing for me, because Facebook has become the Kingdom of Instant Gratification. Say something clever or touching and you immediately get a response from the very people you'd be hoping to touch or inspire with a short story that took four weeks to write. You see my conundrum here. As Carrie Fisher once said, "Instant gratification takes too long."
My hope is to stave off the need for instant gratification, figure out what stories I wish to tell, and get to work telling them.
And if my muse happens to stumble in the room while I'm attempting to do so, I'll invite her in for some coffee. Or tie her to the nearest chair until I find my groove.