Searching for the muse in Virginia


It's been five months since I wrote consistently, since I finished the draft of my novel. I wanted to let it cool and have my wife read and give her feedback before diving into a new draft. I had hoped to work on a new story in the meantime but haven't started anything yet.

She finished reading and gave some amazing feedback. Most of it ripped open flaws in the story, the biggest of which is that the main character is too thin, too weak, too dependent on others for her to get behind. "I don't like him," she said. This is a big problem. If your reader doesn't care for the main character, nothing that happens too him seems important and the story has no chance of holding a reader.

She told me where things went wrong in the story for her. They  match up with the point in the story where I stopped writing every day without an outline started to plot, plan and think my way to the end of the book. It is like I had two minds. One, the creative one, the playful imaginative, fearless, quirky, funny, dark one wrote the first one-hundred pages. The second, my intellectual, conservative, numbers-driven, working-man's mind took over and dug into the story to work out how to solve all of the seeming problems my creative mind had setup, only letting the creative mind open up for short bursts to fill out the words according to its plan. For lack of engagement, my creative mind went into hibernation.

I'm not angry about the feedback. I'm grateful for it. It helped me realize where the joy in writing lives; in that creative mind. I want to write from the creative mind. I want to explore what the creative mind is capable of. This realization leaves me with a choice to make about the current novel; re-write it or set it aside and let a new story come. And just so five more months doesn't pass without anything to show for it, I need to make that decision very soon.

To open myself to the creative mind and let it flow and fill pages, I understand that I keep the intellectual mind away until it's time to rewrite and polish or figure out how to find an audience for the work. The fact that  I haven't working on a new writing project has been bothering me so I have been working on realigning myself with my creative nature; writing in my journal, exploring the world around me with a camera (the images in this post are from a trip to Richmond and Virginia Beach, Virginia my wife half for business and half to celebrate our anniversary), absorbing the world.

It worked. A story spun up out the things we saw and talked about on the trip. I started writing it today.

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