How I Woke Up My Muse: Writing Fiction in 2014

Calliope, the muse of poetry

Calliope, the muse of poetry

In my  writing life I’ve been searching for a BIG IDEA. I mean, I’ve had a bunch of ideas over the years. I have an idea for an historical YA which I may never write. The research and “getting it right” is very daunting, because it’s such an important story to me. I’m not sure I have the writing chops for it yet either. And I’m ok with that. I’ve been searching for another idea, something that I feel I can do.  I’ve been sending messages to my muse, who happens to be a lazy little bitch, and she just hasn’t been answering. I hate when people (or muses) do that! Just answer! Well, when I least expected to hear back from her, she chimed in… (on a side note, I’m pretty sure my Muse doesn’t look anything like Calliope. I suspect my Muse wears ripped jeans, Doc Martins, and a Grateful Dead t-shirt, stinking of patchouli, drinking coffee, and smoking clove ciggies… or that might just be teenage me…)

Joe McGee in a great green room.

Joe McGee in a great green room.

Aaaaaaanyway. Last week I went to see The ABC of it: Why Children’s Books Matter at the New York Public Library, with my client Joe McGee. Joe was breezing through NYC on his way up to his residency at The Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he’s almost done with his MFA in writing for children and young adults (you’re welcome for the plug, Joe!). What was particularly great about seeing this exhibit with Joe, besides the fact that he’s fun and great company, was that we really dug in and talked about writing for kids and I didn’t have to be the “expert” on it. We had the exhibit to stir our imaginations and I had Mr. McGee who was primed for thinking about kid lit, as he embarked on spending 2 weeks immersed in more learning about it. And we had such a great time at the exhibit, which you should definitely see if you’re anywhere in the New York area before March 23rd (SCBWI Winter Conference attendees: make the time for it!).


I love Ferdinand.

I love Ferdinand! Don’t you?

So on my way home, inspiration struck! Was that the faint scent of patchouli I smelled? An idea came to me and I texted Joe with a title and a “what do you think?” Now that was a role reversal! He and I riffed back and forth with it via text, laughing all the way, while the aroma of clove cigarettes got stronger. And now, BIG IDEA in hand, I get to squeeze in time to write every day. Rather than spending time gazing at an empty page on my computer or in my notebook, cursing that little bitch of a muse of mine for being an absentee-parent of ideas, at the very least I know what I’m trying to write about. Don’t be surprised if you see blog posts in the future from me replete with complaints and/or advice on how to move through writer’s block, or the suffering and anguish of trying to write and be an agent, or whatever… But for now, for today, I’m riding the high of starting the year off knowing what I’m writing.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’ve learned something, and when that happens I like to blab about it all over the place so maybe others can get something from it. Here it is:  My muse lives in the space of conversations about writing and creativity and talking about great books. I immersed myself in some of the finest children’s literature written (see the pic of Joe above; the one of me in “the secret garden” didn’t come out…sorry), in  a (concrete) way that I hadn’t done before, and voila! La Muse peeked her head around a corner and whispered in my ear.

How about you? Is your muse out to lunch, on vacation, in absentia, or otherwise being a deadbeat? What do you do about it?


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7 responses to “How I Woke Up My Muse: Writing Fiction in 2014

  1. That’s so rad, Linda! Way to grab that muse and run! I can’t wait to read all about your writing journey on the blog.

    I believe there’s no mystery when it comes to inspiration, and your experience is such a perfect example of this. Be around creative people, submerse yourself in the literature/art you aspire to, take in new experiences and the ideas will grow. It’s not magic, like some people think. Although I do love it when readers marvel at the fact that we writers can “pull ideas from thin air.” Because who doesn’t want to be looked at like a wizard now and then, right?

  2. I’m so glad to hear your muse found you.

    My muse hides in everyday places. She shows up when I’m sitting in a coffee shop or a restaurant or walking down the street and hear a bit of a conversation or notice two people looking at each other in a certain way.

  3. I am so happy to hear that you are writing and embracing that part of yourself, those stories just lurking within you. I know we discussed it in person and via text, but now you’ve publicly owned it. And I KNOW Marie, Rhonda, and Amalia are not going to let you turn back now! HeeHee… That was such a good time and, of course, wonderful company!

  4. Welcome back, Ms. Muse! I wonder if I can squeeze in a visit to the exhibit, too.

  5. Good for you! I’m so happy to read this! That’s all! See you soon!

  6. If anyone can whip that little bitch into shape, it’s you!

    I loved that exhibit, too… I had a friend of mine from college with me when I visited, and when I found out he hadn’t read either Goodnight Moon nor Ferdinand, I forced him to sit and gave him a theatrical reading of both on the spot. Our favorite part? Of course the huge spread where Ferdinand’s butt is about to encounter that bee.

    Write on, bitch!