LATE SEPTEMBER/2016: I was just out in my backyard, picking up the fallen apples that didn’t get harvested (although we did harvest probably a hundred pounds.) It’s kind of a messy job, as about half the fallen fruit are getting squooshy now. The grandkids like stomping on ones that are still intact, making them explode…but the squooshy ones, not so much. Grandma’s not so fond of the extra-messy result, either. Hard to scoop up goop.
That’s mostly enough about Autumn apples, except that they served to get me thinking about writing. I’ve learned a lot of axioms about writing over the years, and I have to say some of them have confused me (“write what you know”?? — this has to have a broader meaning than we tend to think, or else only astronauts could write Science Fiction, right?) but others have sustained me. In this case, I’m talking about the old saw that “writers put their butts in a chair and write.”
Apples only get picked up if I make myself go out and get them.
Pages only get written if you make yourself write sentences. It’s the only way to ever complete a piece of written work, writing one sentence, and another, and another.
My point is: I seldom “wait for my muse” these days when it comes to sitting down to write. I’ve learned that unkind lady only shows up a couple times a year. (And, alas, the Fallen Apple Clean Up Muse never shows her face around here.) It’s great when you’re transported by a weird fever-dream whispered in your ear and you jot down ten pages of stuff you really like…but, the truth is, writing to complete a project (blog post, short story, novel) takes slogging. It really is about time in the chair (or standing, if that’s your set-up.)
This may not be true for every writer, but I’ve found over the years that I hate what I’ve written one day, then read it the next and find I either like it or else I see right away how I can make it better. I’ve learned to trust that just because one day’s writing wasn’t Muse-inspired doesn’t mean it didn’t serve a purpose, or advance the story, or give me the chance to reevaluate and find a better path forward.
So write, and trust that even if it’s “not right” (and even may be later excised), any writing you do helps you build the project toward completion. That’s what a writer wants, right? So, let your Muse take a vacation, but meanwhile you can make your writing grow, one apple at a time.