My Muse of the Week
People who create find their inspiration wherever they can: from life experiences, history, settings, people-watching. In Stephen King’s On Writing, he describes how Carrie was born one day while he was doing a repetitive mindless task. His thoughts wandered from a magazine article he had read linking telekinesis with puberty to a memory of cleaning the girls’ locker room while working as a janitor during high school: boom, the opening scene for his first novel came to life.
This week, I am finding my inspiration from another creator: Neil Gaiman. If you follow Mr. Gaiman on Twitter (@neilhimself), you will know that he is currently holed up in some location (Florida, I think I saw him say somewhere) writing. I am delightedly watching his tweets about his morning jogs, his thoughts and tweeted exchanges with Amanda Palmer, and his frustrations and jubilations at each day’s progress. Every now and then he posts on his tumblr and tweets the link to that. In the one that spoke to me this past week, he compared tough writing days to driving in the fog:
You can’t really see where you’re going. You have just enough of the road in front of you to know that you’re probably still on the road, and if you drive slowly and keep your headlamps lowered you’ll still get where you were going.
He writes that on those days, even though you don’t get much written — you drove slowly, as it were — at least you drove. And that’s as satisfying as when you can see the whole clear wide open road ahead of you.
If you read Monday’s post, you’ll know that I’m currently in the midst of never-ending fog. I came down from a mountaintop peak where I could see the entire story laid out into a dark valley of muck and mud and fog, and I’m slogging forward, delighted with each day’s unexpected discovery. Do I yearn for the early days of this manuscript, when I could churn out six thousand words in several hours and know exactly where to go next? Sort of. But the story is more exciting now that I don’t quite know what’s ahead and am working so hard to find out.
Knowing that Mr. Gaiman is undergoing the same process makes me want to work harder. It makes me feel like a real writer, finally. It inspires me to imagine grander what-ifs that make the story way more interesting than it started out to be when I wrote the first sentence. So, as I sign off to spend the rest of the day (with a conference call in the middle…let’s call that the “break”) doing this painful wonderful thing that I love and am afraid of and have turned my life upside down to do, I’d like to say thank you, Mr. Gaiman, for writing, and tweeting about it, so that I can pretend that we’re in this creative endeavor together.