Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall at sunset

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The Random House dictionary defines a muse as "the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like".

The original definition of a muse referred to a number of Greek sister goddesses who presided over the arts, such as Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), and Thalia (comedy).

In time, a muse came to be generally known by the first definition.

Do I have a muse? This question came up in a recent conversation. I personally have been inspired by two very different authors: Francine Rivers and Diana Gabaldon.

The writing of Francine Rivers made me realize that I could write historical fiction. And Diana Gabaldon inspired me when I read an interview with her in which she described her writing process: she has an idea and she writes that scene and many more scenes and then she "glues" them all together. That was my Eureka! moment. I didn't have to start on page one.

Since then I have taken writing courses and workshops and read many other author blogs and I have come to understand that everyone has their own writing process and there is no "right" one. The important thing is that you have an IDEA and see the story in your head and then you get it down on paper.

Why am I thinking about muses today? Because for the longest time I have been trying to work on a more recent historical - set in 1848 - on the suggestion of a friend who is an acquisitions editor at a major publisher. If I write it, she will read it - even though I don't have an agent.

So what do I do? I have 11, 000 words - about 13% of a book (Yes, I think in those terms!) I can't seem to get past that point. Instead, the last few days I've been thinking about the characters from my first manuscript, Ciara and  Aedan. I'm realizing that I want to return to their story and see where it leads.

Isn't that crazy? Here I have a friend in the publishing industry who will read a manuscript that is more recent history but I can't seem to stop thinking about the ancient history periods that fascinate me. I beat myself up thinking that if I had just tried hard enough I could have had that recent historical finished by now, but I realize my true love is those earlier time periods. And for the most part, they don't sell well.

So what is an author to do?

I think I've answered my own question. I am going to start working on manuscript #3.

I'm not saying I won't finish the "recent historical". I already have an affection for my main character in that work. I chose the name Bernadine Devane, after my sister, and I call my character "Deanie". Deanie Devane. It has a nice ring to it.

But I think Deanie's story will have be told later. Right now I'm returning to the 5th Century.

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