The TV show “Sweet Genius” is back, and yeah I’m a bit of a food show addict but it got me to thinking. One of the requirements for the competitors is a specific featured “inspiration” (one time it was a Mardi Gras mask) that they were supposed to have influence their dessert creations. Whatever they make, they had better be able to explain to the host/judge how that specific inspiration fit in.
As writers, inspiration is our life’s blood, whatever triggers that one “aha” moment when a book is born. A song, an image, a snippet of overheard conversation, a dream…
My muse is a big red dragon named Mystria, whom I made Dara’s great-great-something grandmother (seemed appropriate, since she gave birth to the Guardians of Light series and my writing career). She’s pushy and persistent but at the same time flighty and hard to catch. She likes to tease with odd things that don’t seem to be related to anything.
DUALITY started with a dream, an image of a red-haired woman kneeling in a burning room. That was it. Nothing else. But, slow creature that I am, I IGNORED it. Never ignore a muse – or a dragon. It makes them cranky. I was writing contemporary romance at the time… (Go ahead and laugh. Get it out of your system, but Suzanne Brockmann will vouch for the fact – she judged a rather horrific POV-challenged piece of melodramatic fluff called “Second Chances” in the NJ RWA PYHIAB contest!) Mystria was getting irate, b/c I was reading fantasy & fantasy romance, was a huge Joseph Campbell groupie and LOTR fangirl, and that’s what I should have been writing all along. (Like I said, short bus-dull crayon slow…) So she wouldn’t let up. The red-haired woman started the fire. That got my attention – what bimbo starts a fire and sits there letting it burn around her? (The answer to that would be “a half-dragon fire mage with a bad temper and no control.”) Turned into a Cinderella-type story that I pitched and sold to Samhain. It launched the Guardians of Light series. Pure fantasy romance.
Smart muse. Dumb writer.
I’ve taken some hits b/c of my “archaic Old World” language but also been praised for my world-building, which I’m sorry but they go hand in hand. If you’re going to venture into a pure fantasy world to escape the real world, I immerse you in it.
HEDDA’S SWORD was created from a character in Duality (Cianan) and a seemingly innocent-and-simple question – “What sort of heroine do you set the ultimate ladies’ man up with?” And there was my evil-EVIL muse whispering (okay, cackling) gleefully, “assassin nun.” Assassa-what? Yup – assassin nun. Cianan got the monumental task of not only turning a grey paladin to the Light, but of wooing a rape survivor and teaching her to trust and love again. Good thing the boy was up for the task. (ARGH! No pun intended.)
(Told you Myst was evil!) But every time I do a Fantasy Friday or author chat, the pitch tag “assassin nun” always gets people’s attention!
So whatever your creative outlet is, learn to listen for your muse. Pay attention to it. It’s a part of the real you and will never steer you wrong – even when you think she’s nuts and something will never work – it will, if you keep an open mind and trust your gut instincts.