Thursday, May 3, 2012

Making the Muses Come

By Margaret Dilloway

When I do events, the question I get asked most often is, “How do you make time to write?” Especially because when I was writing HOUSEWIFE, I had three very young kids, including an infant, and was also doing freelance work.

Well, first I do an elaborate Muse-Calling ceremony as soon as I awaken, while I’m still in my dream-state. I go up to my Parisian garret, put on a white robe, light three candles, and begin an incantation. Then the Muses arrive, take me into their soft embrace, and I begin to write on my parchment. In blood.

Isn’t that what everyone does?

The truth is actually disappointingly plebeian. I get up in the morning, I do what needs to be done in terms of 
practicality (getting kids off to school, eating, etc.) and then I write.

And then I do it again the next day.

And the next.

Sometimes, I have a poor writing day where the sentences seem to be getting sliced out of my brain with a dull X-Acto knife. Like that week when I wrote about losing focus. That’s okay.

Some days, it goes really well and I need to write more, so after my husband gets home, I lock myself away again and put on my noise-canceling headphones. That’s okay, too.

These days are both part of the overall process. I figure on the slow days, my subconscious is cooking away at some problem that will eventually work its way out, like a splinter out of your skin. On the productive days, I can't type fast enough to accommodate my thoughts. 

Either way, one day, an entire book appears, no matter how long it takes.

It boils down to this: if you have a story important enough to you to sit your bottom in that chair and write it down, you will. If you don't, you won't. And if you do, you will make time. Even if that time consists of a teeny bit of actual writing and a whole lot of struggle to do that actual writing.

 Listen, every writing day is not going to be a perfect writing day. Just like every day in your regular life isn't  a perfect day-- your tire gets blown, your kid is really cranky, you burn the dinner. It's all about ups and downs. If your kid gets cranky, you don't give up on your kid forever, do you? If your tire's blown, you replace it. If your dinner's burned, you make a new one. You soldier on. Do the same with writing..

Divina talked a couple of weeks ago about getting over doubt. That reminded me of something—years ago, I went to a writing workshop (so many years ago neither my husband nor I can remember who the heck gave it), and the guy giving it said something like, “What the hell are you worried about when you sit down to write? I was in Vietnam. I figure if nobody’s shooting at me, I’ve got nothing to worry about.”

So don’t worry about the work. Just do the work, slow and painful though it might be. Nobody’s going to shoot you for it.

Make those muses come to you. No Parisian garret required.


Post a Comment