Epic Battle: Muse vs. Writer

Due to some health issues, I’ve been forced to take a hiatus from writing.  To most people, that wouldn’t sound like a bad thing. 

It could be a chance to recharge and rest after working so hard for a year to release my debut novel, Fey Touched.  But for me, it is huge.  Ginormous.  Life-altering.

Because apart from illness, surgery, and vacations, I have written every day for 9 years.  It is so ingrained in me that I couldn’t imagine how I’d manage it.  It was beyond me.  I have, but not without bumps and a bit of muse-fueled insanity thrown in.


Here’s what happened.

Week One wasn’t so bad.  I had to stop myself from opening my document and reviewing my revision notes.  But all in all, it was nice.  Restful.  I wasn’t stressing out about my revision.  I wasn’t worried about making quota.  I let it all go.

Week Two was when things started getting hairy. I still felt okay about it.  But the gnawing in the back of my head started. 

“You’re not writing,” my Inner Slave Driver said.  “You’re gonna fall behind.  You’re gonna lose momentum.  No one will remember you when you publish Grave Touched.  Might as well hang it up now.”  Yikes, right? (The ISD in my head is a ruthless, cold-hearted wench.  This crap is normal for her).  So I tried to ignore that and reminded myself — sometimes twenty times a day — of why I needed this hiatus.  For my health.  If I wasn’t healthy, I wouldn’t be able to do anything, would I?  So that really sucked. 

I also started getting twitchy.  It started feeling surreal, as if I were living someone else’s life…a non-writer’s life.  Sure, I had a TON of free time now.  I could do a marathon of Fringe and read a zillion books.  I could watch TV shows I normally don’t watch because I would be writing at that time. Awesome, right?  For the most part, but damn, I missed writing.

Week Three is where the insanity started.  My muse was throwing stuff at me faster than I could even comprehend.  I give her credit.  She hit me where it hurt.  She began with the revision, but then eased into just about every project I had languishing. 

Every. Single. One.  I even dreamed the title of the third book of a planned trilogy, a title I’ve been struggling with.  She invaded my dreams.  And this went on all day, during work, while I was reading…she didn’t stop.  And that was when I decided that one month away was sufficient, and to hell with it, I’d do a bit of writing come April.  That helped because there was a definite end point, an ending of this suffering just around the corner.

Week Four was more of the same, but the end point was close.  If I could survive this next 7 days, I’d be home free.  Just resist, woman, resist.  It’s not so bad.  You’ll get there.  Just don’t cave.  Stick to the plan.  You can do this.

I did, barely.  By my goddamn fingernails.

April came and I breathed a sigh of relief.  I was done.  I could start writing again.  Nothing huge and not every day, just enough so I didn’t lose my mind.  On April 3rd, I wrote 234 words of a languishing story.  It felt good, but alarmingly, it felt weird.  I figured I’d been away so long (the longest in 9 years, remember) that maybe I was having some issues getting back into the swing.  Maybe the pain I was in was making me grumpy, and maybe those 234 little words didn’t suck as badly as I thought. 


Meantime, I worked on another languishing project, strictly longhand and strictly when I felt up to it.  For the most part, I’ve been enjoying that.  But something’s missing.  Drafting.  Creating.  Just typing like a madwoman whatever’s in the noggin. 

Running with my muse, farther and farther.  Feeling jazzed and high (a natural one, folks), drunk on writing.  That, my friends, is what I’ve been missing.

Well, I’m at two and a half months exactly and…I’m getting to the point where the words must come out somehow.  I’ve thought about a few different options.  For now, I’m keeping it all in my head. I’m making plans.  I’m visualizing scenes.  I’m looking for my “entry point.” (That’s my own thing.  It’s basically where the story starts.  Sometimes it’s tough to figure that out.)  I have a project in mind, the same one I tried working on earlier this month.

Just this past weekend, my muse blew it all out of the water. She dealt me a sucker-punch that I’ll still be feeling months from now.  She’s a devious little witch.  Most of the time, I love her, but sometimes, I hate her.  Because she’s batshit insane.  The looniest of the loons.

Certifiable.  Not-even-on-this-planet crazy with a side of psychosis just to make things interesting.

In this war with my muse, I lost.  Would you like to know why?

She brought up the idea of working on the book of my heart, Pirouette, a dark fantasy project I’ve been working on since 2005 (that’s 8 years!).  And I’d taken a year off of it to gain some perspective.

And she drops it in my lap because she knows I can’t refuse.  She knows.

I won the battle, have resisted almost three months of her onslaught, but I lost the goddamn war.

Well played, muse.  Well played.

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  1. Pingback: Baby Steps | Turtleduck Press

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