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  Where are you?
(What To Do When Your Muse Abandons You)
by Tina Morgan

Like so many of my articles this one was born from a problem I've been having with my writing.

It seems my muse has taken a serious vacation and is enjoying it so much she's thinking about retiring. I've decided to send a search party after the ungrateful hussy and drag her back kicking and screaming if I must....and sadly it's beginning to look like I do.

About two months ago I suffered a major hard-drive crash that left me no choice but to reformat my computer. While it was quite annoying, I thought I could handle the situation. After all, I had everything backed up, right? Right? Well, I thought I had, but some of the disks that my stories were stored on decided now would be a good time to die. Fortunately I have more than one critique partner and while they didn't always have the latest version of the stories they'd read, they had enough to save me from a serious blue funk. However, my muse is punishing me for being so careless as to not have every story backed up on at least four different disks (seems the 2 to 3 I did have weren't enough). (author's note: THANK YOU Ciara, Lee, Hans and Val. You're all lifesavers!!)

Now I was also faced with dealing with the ever-dreaded "Writer's Block". It's a subject we're quite familiar with here at Fiction Factor and we've covered the topic before so is there anything left to say?

Our previous articles can be viewed at:
http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/writersblock.html
http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/beatingblock.html
http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/block.html

I hope there's something left to say because I've just been over all three articles and while I've tried most of the suggestions we had listed, my muse is still AWOL. (stupid twit)

The articles did make me stop and think about why I'm suffering from such severe writer's block. Was it really the hard drive crash? The depth of my block seemed too relentless for such a "minor" incident. After all, I'd retrieved most of my stories. At last count there were only two short stories that I hadn't found yet. More probing into my muse's disappearance led to the realization that there was another reason.

Rejection.

Call it a delayed reaction, but this past April, I received a  letter I didn't want to open. I knew what it would say and I didn't want to read it. It wasn't a surprise as the editor considering my novel mentioned a lot of writers he enjoyed and my style is quite different from all of theirs. The first month or so I continued writing without any detrimental effect but that nagging doubt kept building at the back of my mind.

Rejection hurts and it can lead to self-doubt and insecurity. Two major threats to any muse. So why should I be surprised that my muse is hiding? I shouldn't be, but I can't allow her to stay gone for too long (she's too immature to take care of herself).

What to do?

Submit again.

Years ago when I was younger and more daring, I used to train young horses. One of the things I learned from that experience was that I couldn't give up no matter how many times I fell off. The term "eat dirt" is one I know all too well. Most of the time it wasn't the new, untried horses that put me on the ground, but my cantankerous, older mare that hated to be ridden. She broke my nose, nearly fell on top of me, tried to scrape me off on every tree, laid down in the creek with me on her and stomped my foot every chance she got. Why didn't I quit? Because she was the only horse I had at the time and when she behaved we had so much fun it made up for all the spills and bruises.

So if Echo couldn't cure me of the desire to gallop through the fields and soar over fences, how could I allow a little thing like rejection stop me from putting words to paper and creating new worlds and characters?

My fingers trembled over the send button, but I did it. A few days ago I submitted a short story to an anthology. The submissions page said it would be up to 120 days before they responded. Hopefully I'll have reason to celebrate their response but if not, I'm doing what I can to ensure my muse doesn't escape into no-man's land again. I'm doing something I've already proven is successful for me - writing non-fiction. No, it's not sharing my stories with the rest of the world but it is sharing the desire and dream of writing with other aspiring writers.

On the fiction front I'm listening to the new Nightwish CD. (again THANKS Hans!) Music is a major inspiration for me and it's working, slowly. My muse has made an appearance or two and I'm slowly working on a new novel...at least the planning stages. I suspect that if you keep reading Fiction Factor, you'll meet a few of the characters. They have a tendency to pop up in my articles and I'm looking forward to sharing the journey of crafting Makisa's tale with all of you.

For more information on coping with rejection, please visit the following article:
http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/rejection.html
And the following sites:
Reject Writers
- http://www.rejectwriters.com
Rejection Collection - http://rejectioncollection.com

Copyright 2004 Tina Morgan. All Rights Reserved.


Lee's Note: My own muse decided to take a vacation, too, after the recent death of a family member. Nothing I tried brought her back. I used the WriteSparks inspiration program (it's a free trial download, but I highly recommend the paid version, too!). I had some limited success with a couple of short stories and some articles - but my novel was definitely NOT on the active list. So I listened to the old favorites on CD, I re-read so many of our own articles and tried to walk the dog until our feet hurt. Nothing seemed to help bring that novel off the back-burner.

There was only one solution - I had to go and find my stubborn muse.

Even though I only spent 8 days in tropical Queensland, I found the place where my muse was hiding and I dragged her back home with me. Now I can't shut her up!

That small vacation was enough to trigger my imagination and that creative spark we all try to capture. I know now that I won't continue to knock myself out week after week with my hectic day-job. Instead, I'm going to treat my muse to some fun in the sun on a much more regular basis - and she'll reward me with even more inspiration than I know what to do with in return!


 



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