And that means my brain has as well. I blame Sarah. Of course, I always blame Sarah when this sort of thing happens because it is always her fault. You see, it first started when RWA was in San Francisco. She dared me to write something unlike anything I’d ever written before. That one book gave my evil muse, Myrtle’s her name, permission to interrupt my normal writing schedule at least once every year or so for something so far off the wall and out of my comfort zone that it isn’t funny. Well, except for Sarah and we all know she has a warped sense of humor.
In this case, it is a novel that actually bridges two others. I’m not sure how it happened or why but there it is and in the last couple of weeks, I’ve written almost 70k words on it. The end is in sight but it can’t get here soon enough.
What this has shown me, both right now and when it’s happened before, is that these sorts of hijackings occur for a reason. It may be that the novel I was working on was going in the wrong direction and I wasn’t seeing it. I needed something to take my mind completely away from that wip for a while to let me finally see where I’d made a wrong turn. Sometimes, it is my muse preparing me for my craft to take a step up the ladder. Sometimes, it is me running from that step because a change in writing process is a very scary thing, at least for me.
I’ll be finishing this novel in the next day or two. Fortunately, it isn’t going to be one that requires 100k or more words to tell the tale. My brain is already seeing where I need to go back and make some edits, fill in some blanks, etc. So I will make a few notes and then put it aside while I finish the novel I should be writing on. Hopefully. I can never tell when Myrtle the evil muse is going to try to hijack my work again.
But, if everything goes as planned, between now and the end of the year, I will have this novel, Dagger of Elanna and at least one more short story/novella in the Honor & Duty series published. It sounds like a lot but when you consider this novel is almost finished, the first draft of Dagger is done and the outline of the novella is done, it’s not that much. Again, as long as the muse cooperates.
I’m not like some authors who can power through, even when the muse doesn’t cooperate. When I try to do that, I wind up with a story without meat on its bones and characters that simply walk through the scenes. It is better to step away and work on something else than to put out a sub-par novel. At least that is what I keep telling myself. What I’ve also realized is that when I do this, the novel I had to set aside for a few weeks or so tends to be better when I come at it with a fresh eye. Whether it is because I am no longer fighting the muse or because I see the problems that existed before stepping away, I don’t know.
And this is what it comes down to with me. I have had to learn to trust my gut. It isn’t always easy and it certainly doesn’t always come at the most opportune of times. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have to recognize the difference between the gut really speaking to me and those times when I’ve reached the point in a novel or short story where I’m tempted to go play popcorn kittens. When I find myself going “Oooh, sparkling,” over a new idea, I have to tell myself the idea can wait. But when I find myself sitting at the desk, writing and rewriting a scene until there is no life to it, it is time to step away.
Of course, when I step away, I might find myself writing a mystery that has hints of romance and the supernatural and, yes, a sentient house. I’ve never said my mind works in ordinary ways.
Help me. If you see my mind wandering around, buy it a cup of coffee and then send it home. Thanks!