May 13, 2016

Come Back Muse. Please?

I have four favourite words for every book I write.
Chapter One. The End.
Chapter One is so exciting. There's a story within me bubbling to get out and I can't wait to follow my characters on their journeys. I love writing, that's all. Easy. I know how to write, have got twenty books to my name, so there's no mystery about how to put a story down on paper. Right?
Wrong. My most recent book was excruciating, as though I was undergoing a medical procedure myself and could feel every stitch being applied to a wound. Every single word had to be dragged out of me. And then I'd change them. Nothing made sense. I knew my characters, had their back stories sorted, the conflict, the setting, everything was there ready and waiting to be woven into a story.
But it would not come.

I changed the time I went for my walk in the hope I'd come back inspired - usually happens. I drank less tea and more water. I gave up chocolate. (Sad puppy that I am) That didn't work anyway. I cleared the storage unit in the garage, and tidied out the spare drawers in the guest bedroom. End result - the house is looking good but the story was still waiting to be written.
I forced myself to sit tapping at keys in the hope some good would come. It didn't and I got bored and fed up with the pesky insects buzzing around my office.


Day by long day by annoying day this went on for weeks, page one full, chapter one complete, page twenty five, fifty one, one hundred - yah! until finally, finally page two hundred and nineteen, and those magical words The End. I don't usually put that in but this book definitely needed it.

During these tedious weeks I revised the few words I'd written so many times they should've been perfect but they weren't. I changed my heroine's hair colour, her shorts to trousers, even her nickname. Sounds like procrastination but it wasn't. Something was missing. And that was emotion. As Lovecat Barbara DeLeo put it when I was grizzling at a meeting, if you're expending your emotion somewhere else you haven't got any left to write a story. She'd nailed my problem. Our books are all about emotion, and mine was being directed elsewhere. My husband has been unwell and what with trips to doctors and hospital I really couldn't put my all into writing a story. There was no emotion left for my hero and heroine. And once I understood that I let go the need to write. I'm expecting a lot of revisions from my editor with the book but that's okay. As things improve on the home front I'm getting into a better head space and hopefully will be able rip through the changes required.

What's stopped you in your tracks, and how did you get going again?



  1. Gah, Sue- I hate that this has happened to you, it sucks when you know things aren't working but you can't fix it! The wise Barb is right- sometimes you have to let the work go and focus on more important things. So glad DH is getting better, and that you finished the book! The End are two fabulous words....I'm hoping for few revisions, a well hubby and a returned muse for your next book. Hugs xxxxxx

  2. Aww, Louisa, thank you so much. Life happens, eh.

  3. Hugs and lots of them, Sue. I'm incredible impressed you got to the end of the book and I'm sure it will be fabulous!! But, don't be so hard on yourself. When things aren't right with those you love, everything else is almost impossible to focus on. xxooxx

  4. You are so right, Jennifer. Everything else becomes secondary, doesn't it?

  5. Hi Sue

    Firstly Hugs to you and your Hubby and I am glad that he is on the mend and you got the story done and I am sure it will be fab :)

    For me there are lots of things that get me down and family health is always high on that list and for me I need to talk about it go out and have a good time and a nice lunch and get some me time in (reading) then all is good.

    Have Fun

  6. Helen, I like your way of dealing with this. I tend to immerse myself in things so I'm not overthinking the situation. And family health is a biggie. These past weeks have made us stop and rethink a few things

  7. Sue, so sorry to hear about your DH's health issues. No wonder you couldn't write -- it's so hard to focus on other things when our loved ones are unwell. Fingers crossed that after a little break your muse will return all the stronger and enthusiastic. :-)

    When these things hit me, I find making time for a walk (if I can) helps (a lot!). And a nice glass of red in the evening doesn't always go astray either.

  8. Ah, Michelle, a girl after my own heart. Walks certainly help, as does the glass of wine. But this time neither brought out the words. Oh well, t'is done now.