Friday, December 28, 2012

A Muse isn’t for Your Amusement

Writings of The Muse
I don’t really have time for this, but they say if you want something done, ask someone busy to do it. You aren’t going to find anyone busier than me these days. We’re currently wrangling a litter of shape-shifting familiars and one very reluctant witch toward a fight with a bunch of demons. It should be interesting, if I can ever get them there. Right now they’re all insisting on kissing and being angsty. Three-hundred years old and the girl is still plagued by angst. Why do fictional characters never grow out of that?

Don’t answer that. I’m getting off topic. This is meant to be an introduction post. The Idea Salesman has insisted that blogging is a part of my contract, so here I am. Blogging.

Blogging. What an absolutely awful word. It’s like the English language just threw up a little in the back of its mouth and with a thick sloppy plop, spit out a new word. You can’t even say it without making a little vomiting motion with your mouth. Blahg-ging. Clearly someone in the inspiration department was having an off day.

I’m getting off the point again though. That is likely to happen a lot. I am, after all, a Muse. It is my job to sift through all the random information in my novelist’s head and find the seeds of her next Good Idea. I don’t always strike gold and I usually have the Inner Editor to help me filter out the Not So Good Ideas.

I’m not entirely sure the internet is the best place for me. I’m running unfiltered here, which is somewhat disconcerting.

Contrary to popular belief, Muses do not just flit around tossing out nuggets of creativity like rose petals and expecting works of pure genius to be born fully-formed from merely observing the graceful way they drift along the breeze. Well, most of us don’t. I won’t bore you with horror stories of my predecessor. Let’s just say we’re all better off now that she’s moved on to play in the imagination of a two-year-old.

I’m not altogether sure the two-year-old is better off, but that’s her parents’ problem.

My problem is inspiring a novelist who insists on writing at damn-that-hurts-are-you-freaking-kidding-me-the-sun-isn’t-even-up-yet o’clock in the morning. Musing is hard work. I’ve got to find those potential good ideas and polish them up until they’re shiny enough to pierce the haze of Real Life. Real Life brings with it stress and responsibility and upheaval. And I have to compete with children and pets and spouses and friends. That’s a lot of haze.

And most of the time there’s only one cup of coffee to get us through it.

Most of my work gets done in the background, lining things up and finding filler for plot holes whenever I can steal some brain power during a shower or while the toddler is entertained with her whatever toy has caught her fancy today and Renee is folding laundry. I only get a few hours a week at the keyboard. Random scraps of time cobbled together by sacrificing a precious hour of sleep and on the sufferance of Long-Suffering Husband.

And today I’ve had to devote my time to doing this. Blogging. Ugh. Don’t expect to see me around here too often. The writing comes first.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Insert Pithy First Line Here

It occurs to me that the start of a new blog is much the same as the start of a new novel. There’s a first-page pressure here. You've got to grab the potential reader, faced with roughly a bajillion browsing options, with something engaging and witty right from the get go. But at the same time, you have to devote at least a few words to establishing the context, introducing the characters. It’s a tough needle to thread.

And so in a novel the writer is faced with the challenge of writing a dynamic action-oriented scene that kicks off the story and hooks the reader while subtly working in the basic information. Things about our main character like hair color or height must be sprinkled into the action so the reader can start imagining the scene properly. Someone needs to take note of a few setting markers to help the reader identify the city or magical land or planet. Oh, speaking of which, you may also have to work in the fact that the story set on another planet or in a magical land. And if you’re writing in first person, someone probably needs to refer to the main character by name, just to get that little tidbit out there.

Plus you've got to establish the voice of the narrative and set up expectations for the rest of the story. After all, you can’t really write an opening scene about a kick ass intergalactic demon hunter all done up in leather and snark kicking some creature of the night’s ass and then go on to tell a sweet coming of age tale about a young boy bonding with his father over a week-long fishing trip in the north Georgia mountains.

I vaguely remember learning in an Intro to Marketing class that term there is bait and switch, and it’s generally frowned upon.

It’s a lot for a writer to accomplish on one little first page. In much the same way, as a blogger you've got to take the first post and give the reader some idea of who this Renee Elizabeths person is and what she’s going to be blogging about. If there happen to be three random imaginary friends who will be blogging here as well, it’s not a bad idea to introduce them too. Or at least mention them so they won’t just pop up out of nowhere over the next few posts and confuse the heck out of the readers.

But you can’t just post a bio page and be done with it. You've still got to be interesting enough that those people who landed here by following a link in a random friend of a friend’s tweet or who Googled “how to thread a needle” and got this blog by mistake might take a chance and decide to continue reading.

You should probably strive to keep those friends and writing buddies who've come here on purpose amused as well. And above all, you have to consider that long-suffering husband you've guilted into subscribing, so he doesn't want to gouge his eyes out just to avoid opening the Google reader app on his phone while he’s feeding the baby her breakfast bottle.

Speaking of which, the kids are going to be waking up soon and my day will be officially starting, so I’d best be getting on with things. Welcome. I’m Renee Elizabeths. I’m trying to write a novel and I hope to someday see it published. This is my blog.