It’s winter in my little corner of the world. Winter means it’s dog show season. That means packing up the van, leaving at ungodly hours of the morning (usually much earlier than Oh Dark Thirty), setting up, grooming, showing and heading home with a ten cent ribbon. I LOVE dog shows. Right now, the ground is mantled in white, which would have been nice to have for Christmas, but when has Ma Nature ever really listened to anything we say? She does work on Her own schedule and Her own timetable. Rather like my Muse.
Ah, my Muse…I adore Her and I hate Her. She is a fickle bitch. When She doesn’t want to be around and assist, She completely vanishes. Erica Jong said of her Muse that She And, when She decides that it’s time to write, She usually dumps a story completely whole into my lap and then sits back to watch me try to capture it. Like I said, She is a bitch.
In November, I decided to take a story I wrote better than fifteen years ago and revamp it. I have been toying with the idea for a long time of turning that manuscript into a historical romance, for all the reasons I outlined in a previous blog entry. About 10,000 words into that revamping, I realized what I was doing wasn’t going to work. So, I chucked it out the window…and the laughter started.
My Muse—Bitch Extra Ordinaries’—dropped a whole other idea for that romance onto me. And the Bitch laughed. I spent almost a week writing like a madman, operating on very little sleep, and even less food. And, a third of the way through that version, I lost the hero. The A.J. in that version wasn’t the A.J. he was supposed to be. He wasn’t the A.J. I knew from the previous novel. And, frankly, neither was the heroine. Allison wasn’t the Allison I knew. Oh, there are many similarities between their current incarnation and the original version of them: he’s still broken beyond belief and she’s still a unique combination of vulnerability and tough-as-nails, but they have changed.
I paced the floors. I cursed my Bitch Muse. I pleaded with her. I begged. And all She did was laugh at me. I threatened to stop. (Yeah, like I could.) So, I paced some more, trying to find the couple I honestly love beyond belief. Now, I know most authors love their characters. We have to, because if we don’t love them first, no one else will. But, these two are my very favorites. I also know that as the creator of all these people who live in my head and talk to me, I’m not supposed to have favorites. But, damn it…I do.
And, finally, I stopped fighting my Muse. She stopped laughing and told me to buckle up, because it was going to be a wild ride. I literally got the rough draft done in less than ten days. I have now spent the last two weeks fleshing out the novel and fixing the plot holes I’ve found.
While fleshing the manuscript out, I had to ask my dear Bitch of a Muse what gutters She trolls, because one of “those scenes” darn near went into the realm of porn…forget erotica. I read somewhere that while writing “those scenes” if the author isn’t squirming just a little, the reader certainly isn’t going. I’ve not written one of “those scenes” where I felt the need for a cold shower, until this manuscript.
I’ve also found myself asking if I like this incarnation of this particular couple more than I liked their original form. The answer is yes…and no. Yes, because they are uniquely who they are. No, because they’ve changed so I can still love the original A.J. and Allison on their own merits—not that A.J. had many the first couple of chapters in that original version. I will never forget my niece punching the daylights out of a helpless, defenseless teddy-bear because she was so angry with A.J. in that first version. Not sure if she’d be punching that teddy-bear this time.
Another thing that I found very interesting about writing this manuscript was I write with music cranking through the earbuds. The music that I distinctly recall listening to while writing the original contemporary romance with A.J. and Allison just did not work for this version. I ended up listening to a lot of Civil War era music (which makes my DH crazy because I’ve been humming Dixie a lot), a lot of the Zac Brown Band (their double live album is awesome, by the way), and Italian operas. Fleetwood Mac, Madonna, and Travis Tritt went by the wayside.
God, I hate my Muse…when I’m not proclaiming undying love for Her.