Thursday, March 28, 2013


Every now and then, usually after I finish a book and send it off to market, I hit a creative block while my brain recharges and resets for the next project. This can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week or so to months. Mostly it’s just me being lazy; writing is hard work, and work and I only have a nodding acquaintance. Eventually I get over it and move on to another story.

When the fallow period starts stretching on, however, then I get worried. I’d like to make a living at this, which means I have to produce on a regular basis. If no books get written then nothing goes to market, nothing sells, and I don’t get those nice checks and royalty payments that keep me in gas and groceries and cable TV.

It's not a question of ideas, or a lack of ideas. My head is stuffed with characters, plots, scenes, whole series even. The trouble is prying them loose. Long ago I discovered I can only work on on thing at a time, and I don't get to choose which thing that is. Call it inspiration, the muse, a cantankerous subconscious bent on driving me buggy, whatever. When the story's ready, it'll tell me. Then I get to write it, and not one second before.

Jogging the stubborn little buggers loose from the pileup gets to be a strain. This is why I keep spiral notebooks, and have pens stashed all over the house.

Just because I'm not working on something in particular doesn't mean I'm not writing. I make it a point to write something every day. All those scenes, characters, ideas, etc. get jotted down in the notebooks. Sometimes I'll start a story and have it go bust on me. Or I'll write scenes as they occur to me and hope they'll make sense when I string them together later on. Once I've got a notebook filled, I stick it in the closet and start a new one. That way nothing gets lost. Buried among the shoes, maybe, but never lost.

Every now and then, when I'm at a loss for something to work on, I do inventory.

After Slayer went out I found myself stuck on a block that just wouldn't let up. I tried to write a couple of books but they just fizzled out of me. I did a lot of daily flash scenes and watched a lot of TV. Finally I hauled out a couple of the spiral notebooks (the 5-subject ones; no messing around!) and went panning for gold.

Found some! Did I ever. I'd decided to go back to a story I'd previously abandoned and give it another go. Mostly I was looking for the random scenes I'd written down to get them out of my head. While looking for that story, I found the start of another that I'd fiddled with for two pages or so before it petered out. This time it spoke to me. It said, "Hey, with a little tweaking you could make these stories relate to each other and turn it into a series. I'll even give you some extra characters. If you set the series in Philly, it'll give you an excuse to drive down and hike around Fairmount Park. Just tell yourself you're doing research." That muse, what a sneaky bitch.

So now I'm back at work, attempting two stories at once. I figure one or the other will claw its way to the top and I'll write that one first, then do the second one. By then I might have ideas for a third, or maybe something entirely new will hit me out of the blue. It's happened before.

As for inventory, I'm still at it. I may dig up some ideas I can use for this series. It also gives me something productive to do during long commercial breaks on TV. Sure, I could write, but c'mon. You know how I am about work. 


Savanna Kougar said...

Yeah, it's prying the story loose, getting all those descriptive words on the page.

Glad you got something going.

I was working on my Talbot's Peak list of characters, which I knew would be extensive... but, hey, way down the rabbit hole... and then reading some of my flashes... stories in the making, most of them.

But, only so much time. Hopefully, I can get Red Lioness revised, and out there again. Actually, that's working out because the story is already written. So, I'm not struggling with anything new during the down time after Her Midnight Stardust Cowboys.

Serena Shay said...

LOL...Sounds like our Muses' should be on a first name basis! Those bitches sure like the slight of hand...

'Here's one story you might want to write, but how about this other one?'

Mine has me waist deep in plotting a YA, then throws and erotica short at me...go figure, the big meanie, er lovely lady.(gotta keep her appease, ya know) ;)

Glad yours settled on something for you and made it a series! Doesn't it just figure!

Good Luck!

Pat C. said...

Thanks, I'll need it. I decided to move Jase and Burne's story from Talbot's Peak to Philadelphia (easier to get pricy fabrics). I was skimming through a notebook looking for random scenes I'd written when I came across another M/M shifter story I'd started but abandoned, also set in Philly. I thought of a way I could tie them together and possibly use as a series background. Let's see how it works out.

Pat C. said...

YA and erotica in the same series? Who'd write something like that? (cough cough)

Serena Shay said...

LMAO(someone with a disposable pen name maybe? Or a really wicked Muse!)

...Dear heavens no, not the same series. I was trying to be good and unravel my YA idea and Mz. Muse, instead of knuckling down, throws a whole different story (erotica short thank goodness) at me.

She's such a meanie sometimes!

Oooh Jase and Burne! Yay! Good luck.