writers dilemma, writing, writing fiction

The Writer’s Dilemma: Unmasking the Creative Muse

2019Aug16MeInMaskTeethShowingSMALL
Lily Chang © 2019

I write, because I’m am writer. And at the moment, my largest project is getting book two done.

Getting the scenes down has its ups and downs, like any job. I love what I do and get super excited about it. However, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters don’t just write themselves. Words don’t just flow out of me like the rushing water in Niagara Falls.

I don’t have the luxury they call “time” on my hands. Teaching takes time. During the school year, I spend three hours a day on the road getting my kiddos to and from school. We don’t do fast food or ready-made, prepackaged meals. I cook our food, which takes planning and, again, time. Loads of other everyday needs as well as various doctor or school appointments require no small amounts of, you guessed, time. So, I have to be really careful and intentional about carving out writing time. Are you sensing a running theme, about… time?! Time. I haven’t got much.

So, imagine what pops into my head when I hear, taking oneself on an artistic date or pursuing creative endeavors is crucial to a healthy and fruitful writing life?

Like whatever. Are you serious? How is that supposed to happen?

Don’t you think that’s extravagant? Taking things too far?

***

I thought so, until the last year or two.

Paying attention to my creative muse and giving in to her needs, whether that be doing a painting or enjoying a piece of fine chocolate from local chocolatiers, is a necessity, not a frivolity.

Last spring, after I finished revising the manuscript to book one, in light of comments and recommendations from an expert in magical realism, I decided to really treat myself. It’s been a long road. At least it has felt like it. From start until finish, book one went through twelve revisions. That being a conservative estimate. And, that’s not even counting what is to come, once an agent decides to represent my work. Those revisions spanned five years.

Anyways, I went into a local masquerade shop this past spring. The experience was a delight. This isn’t just some place that sells costumes for that once-a-year event Halloween. Elaborate costumes are made by gifted seamstresses. This shop, Crimson Rose Masquerade, also had the most detailed and amazing leather masks painted by local artists. I happened to see a one-eyed butterfly mask that caught my eye. I loved it. It was so detailed and colorful. The only drawback was that I wanted one that covered both eyes. I asked for the artist’s name and I was given her handle.

I was able to contact her, and when she was available – she’s in high demand – she was willing to do a custom mask for me. I was both surprised and delighted.

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Lily Chang © 2019

Yesterday, I picked up the mask. And, here I am, wearing it.

2019Aug16MeInMaskSMALL
Lily Chang © 2019

These sort of treats, which may seem like unnecessary indulgences, have been successful writing catalysts for me.

You see, this thing about loving my creative muse hasn’t been make-believe.

All these successful, published authors haven’t been making up crap about taking care of the artist’s self and creative muse. Doing paintings, taking photographs, creating and enjoying good food, taking a trip to an antique shop or an art store, or buying a gorgeous mask from a local artist really makes a difference to how prepared I am to write tight and developed scenes.

So, cheers to efforts made toward unmasking the creative muse. Even when time seems scant and precious, and resources are in very short supply.

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