Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When the Muse Misbehaves

I've seen several authors say there's no such thing as a muse, and others virtually tearing out their hair on Twitter because of this strange entity. For me, the muse is a single personality made up of all the voices in my head. The idea that wakes me up at 4am and won't go away. The mind-numbing lack of words at that essential moment in the story. The warren of plot bunnies that appear mid project. And the sudden burning urge to work on 'that' old story right in the middle of urgent edits with a deadline. She's capricious, elusive when needed and a persistent noise when I want her to shut up. She can be the genius who solves the backed-into-a-corner jam in the midst of housework, or the sudden silence in the same situation two days later. She's a tease and a torture. Yes, she's also still me, but she's the part of me that gets my characters into trouble, then sits back and laughs while I try to fix it. Oh, how I love and hate her!

Right now we're at an impasse. Content edits for Imprint - my SFR short for the Brigade anthology  - are done and off for copy edits. I've had and checked the ARC for my scifi novel Gethyon, due out in just 11 days, squeee!  All my guest posts for the virtual tour are done bar one, and ready to send off. I'm going to be busy until the end of June, but with nothing else contracted right now, I'm looking at my next project to complete.

The problem is, I just can't decide what to work on next. It isn't lack of ideas. While muse may not have given me more than a few tenuous new ideas over the last month, I have seventeen - yep, SEVENTEEN - current WIPs on my hard drive. Everything from ready-to-sub manuscripts to drafts that are more at the coal than rough diamond stage. A short story that's been through first round edits but still isn't ready two years after writing it. A superhero romance that started as an urban fantasy, went scifi, steampunk, dieselpunk, and is currently decopunk/alternate timeline. There are more Quin/Keir stories, a space pirate vampire novella, and even a dark fantasy romance, started for a contest and never finished. And lastly a folder with a collection of CAPTCHA words, odd bits of tech, some lines, titles, and random paragraphs of ideas all waiting for a home.

And I just can't choose between them. About half a dozen are clamouring for attention for different reasons, like a bunch of toddlers at nursery. The series of books that I'd planned for Keir are kind of in limbo until the fate of Book Two is decided. Three stories for Quin are all demanding that I work on them, and with the sudden arrival of New Adult as a category that's growing in popularity, I feel I should finish her first adventure. I should do the edits on the short, one of Quin's stories set before Gethyon and Keir (yes, I'm working backwards. Don't ask me why - the stories have been in my head for 20 years but I'm only just writing them down, sigh). Then there's the story with Quin and Darion. There *are* readers who want to know what happened there.

And nearly everything that I have finished has some kind of sequel now. Terms & Conditions Apply has one, plus another spin off idea (I can blame Diane Dooley for that last one). Tethered, another finished work that may have found a home (can't comment on that just now, shh!) has a sequel. Even Imprint has a follow up story that's currently novella length (and I'm hoping to reach at least 80K).

In the past, one story normally fends off the others and refuses to be left. Now they're all shouting "me, me, ME!" with equal intensity. Maybe I should start something new? Maybe I should take a break?

But I can't. The need to finish *something* is like an itch I can't shake off.  When I first thought about being published, I fretted over running out of ideas. Now I fret over whether I'll get them all written in my lifetime!
Does your muse have a personality? A life of its own? Or do you think I'm a little more crazy than the average author for thinking of inspiration as a person? :P And how do you decide what comes next?

Pippa's Journal

I've mentioned some already. Content edits on Imprint are done. Line edits will be going back to my main editor before the final set comes to me for tweaking and polishing. My logline, blurb and author page have all been submitted. I'm so excited! This will be my first adventure as part of an anthology, and having read a couple of the other submissions I can promise you a fun read.

Gethyon releases in just eleven days!! *bounces*  I'll be touring for the whole of June to celebrate. My final PDF arrived yesterday (it looks so pretty with the cover on!) so I'll be hunting for review sites later today to submit to.

The SFR Brigade's 2nd Midsummer blog hop needs you! Even if you can't sign up to take part, I'd really appreciate it if anyone could put the button or banner on their blog to help promote the event. Email me at sfrbrigadebloghop (at) Gmail (dot) com if you'd like the button. I'm so excited about organising this event!

This is something fun I found on Twitter just today. A random alien race generator. The creator admits it isn't perfect, but again something that might help spark ideas. You can read about it here.

Ping Pong
@Laurie - so sorry about your missing ending. A timely warning to authors - always be sure to save and back up your work! Having lost my computer a couple of weeks ago, and with a spate of similar disasters among my fellow authors, I second this completely.
@Sharon - great post on whether the behaviour of authors reflects on people still buying their work. I saw comments to a post about unethical marketing where the reader said she didn't want an author to be her friend via social media, and she didn't like this push by publishers and internet gurus for authors to connect with readers. A view that goes against most marketing advice. We'd be less aware of minor author meltdowns, but then, wouldn't fewer people get to hear of our books? Being an author on the web is a real double edged sword.
@Donna - am I forgiven for not being a devoted ST fan yet? Lol. Hubs and I have been debating going to see STiD, but I think babysitting issues will probably mean us waiting on the DVD. =/


  1. Wow, Pippa! No shortage of rich ideas in your mind! Seems like your Muse is actually working overtime. Maybe you should take a wee break?

    I'm such a linear thinker that I can't seem to work on more than one thing at a time. I may be incubating a few ideas way, way back in the darker recesses of my brain, but I don't put word to screen on Project B until Project A is pretty much done. (Well, they're never really done, are they? So let's say in final revisions.)

    Oh, and I guess I can forgive you since you love FARSCAPE. :-)

  2. Donna, I kind of envy you. I've never worked linearly, although I started thinking of the sequence of stories in the right order, I'm just working backwards now. I'd love just to work through one story at a time. But my muse just doesn't function like that. O.o
    And lol! Yep, love my Farscape! I guess I have to be grateful it managed more than one season.

  3. I also have a lot of ideas and half-baked (or ingredients in a jumble) story ideas on my hard drive, and I also relate to the question if I can ever finish them all in my lifetime. Though that's a nice problem to have, I think.

    I'm kind of a blend between you and Donna. I type in new ideas, scenes, bits of dialogue, etc. into these files, but I tend to only focus on one at a time.

  4. Oh, I'd rather be overrun than blank. But I'd one just to step forward and give me a nudge.
    Having said that, a friend sent me a contest, and I noticed in the listing that entry for this year's The Rebecca closes on the 15th July. The only potential candidate I have for that is the decopunk superhero romance. I think I have my candidate...

  5. My muse has been persnickety this past week. Last Saturday I was trying to work on the WIP and hating every word. So I started rambling at my crit partner and decided to scrap all 29K of it so far.

    A handful of scenes I can keep, but the bulk of it is history. (in a re-named file, of course) The muse is once again in overdrive and has been spitting out some pretty cool stuff.


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