Does Your Muse Have a Groove?

For the past year, I have been struggling with the world of my novel. As it is currently structured, the story starts in a realistic world and a parallel fantastical reality is revealed to the reader and the protagonist as the work proceeds. In theory, it works. My intellect loves it. But my Muse is not impressed. The realistic sections of the book aren’t working and I hate writing them.

Looking at the pictures I have been creating using Mixel, I had what Holly Lisle calls a Muse-bomb – an explosion of insight from the creative source.

Is this an image created by a Muse who hangs out in realism?

What about this one?

Or this?

I think not.

When she critiqued it earlier this year, one of the comments Charlotte Rains Dixon made about the opening pages of the book was that she wanted to know why a character overreacted to a car accident; it was the kind of question that made her want to turn the pages beyond what I shared with her.

This, my friends, is exactly what the beginning of a story should do.

But, the reason I had given this character for such an extreme reaction was the sort of heavy, gritty, realistic, trauma-related reason that appeals to people who like issue-oriented YA. And it wasn’t working for me.

So, last night, I asked my Muse to justify the reaction to the accident in a way that fits with the fantastical elements of the book.

And she came through. Big time.

She gave me an accident witnessed by the character some years ago that involved the shape-shifting near-immortals that populate the world and created PTSD, fear of being crazy, self-doubt, self-censorship, and willingness to believe in an alternate magical reality in one moment.

I can work with that, all of it. It fits beautifully into subplots and plot twists that already exist. And I am excited about it.

I had been asking my Muse to work in my analytical world and she balked. Meeting her half-way is clearly a better approach.

Does your creative imagination have a strong suit, a world view, a groove? What happens when you work outside that range?

10 thoughts on “Does Your Muse Have a Groove?

  1. Patrick Ross says:

    Wow, Kate! Not sure I have an answer to your question, but I loved the reveal of your progress with the novel and how that tied in with your own creative leanings, and how great you worked with Charlotte!

  2. I feel honored I got to read those pages, Kate, and this sounds like a huge breakthrough for the novel. Hooray!

  3. Andrea says:

    I completely get (and relate to) what you’re saying. Congrats bc it’s so hard to explain these things re: process and illumination. I read this the other day. It sort of relates to the part about “heavy, gritty, realistic, trauma-related reason that appeals to people who like issue-oriented YA.”
    Congrats on showing your manu to someone. That is very hard when you write something so revealing of your imagination. And I think you said you’re perfectionistic. That was a cool and original post too, BTW. 🙂

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

      Thanks for that link. It is a really interesting look at plot. Definitely got me thinking.

  4. Your Mixel images are amazing! I got chills when I heard about the breakthrough you had by asking your muse to help you reconcile the accident with the fantastical elements of the book. It always feels so good when we can drop into who we really are.

    Your question was thought-provoking. Not sure I know how to answer it from my conscious mind. Maybe I’ll ask my muse next time I’m journaling.

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

      I’m so pleased you like the pictures. I just turned these and a few similar images into coasters so I can see them in my writing room. 🙂

      I always like to provoke a journaling question. I’m curious to know if you learn anything interesting.

  5. […] June, I wrote about how I was using the digital collage app Mixel for iPad. Unfortunately, Mixel stopped being available for download in early August. The service has […]

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