A Muse ing – one writer’s style

Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true in 2018 and beyond.

2018 is just beginning. It’s a fresh slate, as unmarked as the driven snow that greeted soOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA many in the early days of the year. To be honest, my first inclination was to go with the flow and talk about resolutions. Except there’s a catch – this year, I’m not making resolutions. Instead, I’m making goals. There have been lots of blog articles about goals v resolutions that favor goals. Resolutions are doomed to failure because they are an all or nothing proposition. Goals, on the other hand, are sequential victories. We chop goals into manageable bits. That way, if you miss a goal milestone, no worries, all it means is you review and rephrase the goal. Voila – positive reinforcement and chances of success are increased.

Since discussing the baby steps of goals is yawn-inducing, I thought instead, I’d talk about the writing process and my muses. Well, one muse.My usual muse

Writing is hard work. There are days when the blank page is your enemy. If the enemy of the blank page goes on too long, it’s called writer’s block. Overcoming it is like trying to lose those last five pounds (or the first five pounds, let’s be honest here). Some writers deny writer’s block, and I fall almost into that camp. After all, writing is my job. It’s not a hobby. I’m also a paralegal and I’d hate to hear what my boss would tell me if I called him and said I had legal block. Still, there are days. Days when the ideas chase themselves like squirrels through my brain but won’t gel into anything remotely resembling a story—or the story I’m telling. That’s when a personal muse is a godsend.

I call him Hutch. He even answers. Rare in a cat, but then, he’s a muse so that gives him special powers. Hutch came to me in 2004. My vet rescued him and two littermates from a Miami, Florida sewer just ahead of a tropical storm. The kittens’ eyes weren’t open, but Hutch had a meow loud enough to attract the attention of the workers whose job it was to clear debris from the drains in advance of the weather. By the time I got him he was three months old and ready for a new home. He was also notably silent. Unless he wanted something. Then he mewed sounds that mimicked words. He still does.

my muse todayHutch’s ability to chat makes him invaluable as a muse. He listens intently to my plot points, story ideas, red herrings, and even settings. When I get stuck, I run plot plans past him. Should Catherine approach the investigating officer? Would she do that? What now? The cat listens to each twist and turn. When he vocalizes, I pay attention. That’s when we play the game of three. I give him three scenarios, he mews at his favorite. It never fails. Even if I mix up the scenes, he mews at the same story. It took me a while to trust him, but over time, it’s become clear that the plots he doesn’t select are dead ends. When I don’t follow his lead, well, the muse goes silent. His disgust evident in his body language.

To thank my muse, in addition to keeping him well-fed and healthy, I’ve incorporated him in my books. Readers of the Hayden Kent series will recognize Hutch as Tiger Cat, and as Paddy Whack in the Catherine Swope series.

Readers, can you detect a difference in a fictional pet and a based in fact pet?

Writers, do you have a muse and does it show up in your books?

If you’d like to read more about my real and story world, join me on Facebook. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter – click the sign up button on the left-hand side under my picture.

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Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, five cats, and a flock of conures. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

14 thoughts on “A Muse ing – one writer’s style”

  1. Hutch looks like a fabulous muse! And how funny he’s always right.

    Right now, my muse is the thought of failing to meet the submission deadline, either for my editor or my critique group. I like yours better!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Goals, on the other hand, are sequential victories.” I love that. Not ‘challenges’ or ‘obstacles’ but victories. Perfect.

    I love your muse! All Nala does for me is choose the winner of my monthly subscriber winner of the signed books. And I think she does it pretty reluctantly. It interferes with her schedule of doing absolutely nothing all day.

    I don’t really have a muse, unless it’s that frowning image of my agent or editor when I haven’t written. Like you, writer’s block isn’t a real thing for me, but I often have the problem of too many ideas and get stymied trying to land on the best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hum, looks like Nala should talk to Hutch. He gets paid in treats when he has a good idea!

      I agree about too many ideas! Perhaps we should start a campaign – it’s not writer’s block, it creativity logjam!

      Like

  3. Resolutions have never worked for me, but goals keep me pointed in the right direction. I usually fall short of them, but at least I’m on the road.

    Hutch is a wonderful muse!! Mine is just derriere-to-chair discipline. Same time, same place, and eventually the Muse finds me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely! I’m a big fan of goals vs. resolutions – goals seems much more attainable and logical. As for muses, I don’t have one, but I’m a big fan of talking to the fuzzy members of the family. My original cats, Emma and Rajah, definitely participated as I worked on my master’s thesis; Emma, in particular, would talk back. Bastet, the current cat, is less chatty, but she does provide a warm, fuzzy, purry grounding influence which seems infinitely calming (except when she tries to be warm, fuzzy, and purry on my keyboard!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Hutch occasionally tries to type too, I live in fear he’s going to start sending e-mails.

      It’s amazing how many people set goals rather than resolutions. The step by step point of view is so much more palatable! It’s funny, every cat I’ve known with the name of Emma has been a talker. Have you noticed that some names have certain characteristics? Works with people too, now that I think of it.

      Like

  5. Resolutions, goals, lists: it’s all increments as you say. I don’t have a name for my muse who is not a corporeal entity but I think I shall give her one someday soon. When I’m stuck for a fresh idea, I just bang out 300 words or so of stream-of-consciousness and save it to a misc. file. Maybe someday it’ll be good for something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL – Keenan – you will be surprised how often you use that misc. file. I’ve gotten a lot of short stories out of mine. Did you do morning pages too? It’s a similar concept, and it works.

      Like

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