This is going to be a bit mutual linky-linky.1 Maureen Johnson linked to my quick little whinge about writing sometimes being hard before going into more detail about the sometime not fun-ness of it. And now I am linking to her. Quoting her even:
When writing goes well, it feels magical . . . but there is no magic to it. Writing goes well because you have done some work. You have spent MANY MANY MANY HOURS sitting at your desk, written pages and pages and pages of useless crap, read piles of books, done a lot more wrong than you have right, questioned your sanity and talent . . . and just kept going. No muse involved.
Maureen is against muses. In fact, I suspect that she would advocate killing them:2
I hate muses . . . I mean, with the obvious exception of Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu. This idea that all you have to do is sit around and a muse lands on your head, dances around your desk, and whispers in your ear and BANG! BOOK!
Forget that. Get yourself a can of anti-muse spray. The things are credit-stealing parasites.
Personally, I think Maureen’s just jealous because—like me—she doesn’t have a muse. In fact, I’ll be honest and admit that the reason I think this is that I, too, am jealous. Frankly I would love to have a muse inspire me to work. Better still I’d like a muse to do the damn work for me.3
Imagine it: I’d be in my bedroom, lazing around, catching up on all the manga I haven’t had a chance to read in ages, because I’ve had to do so much research for this stupid book while my muse would be in the study working its arse off. Sounds good to me.
Sadly, that has never happened. Maybe if I’m more gooder?
I think part of the reason people refer to their muse is because they have no idea where their ideas come from.4 They should’ve asked Maureen. Trouble is all the muse talk makes it sound like ideas and inspiration are the most important part of writing, which, sadly, is rubbish.
I wish it wasn’t. I get dozens of ideas for novels every single day; I do not write dozens of novels a day. Nor do I write 4,380 novels a year.5 Even when you realise that it takes several ideas to make one novel the percentage of my ideas turned into novels is very very small. I’ve never managed to write more than one novel a year . . .
This does not mean that I think ideas are unimportant—I read a novel recently that was entirely void of ideas, let alone original ones, and I gave up after a few chapters—it just means that you can have the best idea in the world but if you don’t put in the hard yakka to transform them into a novel, or a play, or whatever, then they’re just ideas.
Also no muse—even Olivia Newton John—is going to help you do that.
- “You’re fabulous!” “No, you’re fabulous!” While those watching gag. [↩]
- Possibly I was clued in to her sentiments by the title of her post: “Death to Muses” [↩]
- And while they’re at it the flat needs vacuuming and dusting. [↩]
- Or because they’re barking mad. [↩]
- Which is how many ideas I have in a year assuming an average of 12 a day. [↩]