The start of writing was simply. At the time, many years ago, I’d broken my leg. I was on a sort of bed rest type deal. For weeks. I was reading ferociously. I mean, wow, I was taking down a book, or two a day. It became an expensive habit. And the stuff I was reading, it was good, but it made me think, you know, I could probably do this too. So, for the last couple weeks of my bed rest, instead of reading books, I started to write one. It went relatively well. I had a first draft in a short time, then had it edited to the best of my ability, and was on the search to learn more about the industry, and figure out what to do next. The few years that followed, I wrote more books. I had two published, I had even secured a very well-known Canadian Agent who was willing to back me up, and try to sell my more recent works of fiction. Things, as they say, were looking up. But what you never truly realize is the unpredictability of this industry, what’s new and hot one day, isn’t new and hot the next.
I ended up parting ways, on super great terms, with my Agent, one of the toughest decisions I had to make. I also had to part ways with my publisher. In the span of a year, I went from having books published, having an agent, to then… suddenly having nothing. And wow, did it hit me hard. I truly felt like a failure and it completely messed with my Mojo. I couldn’t write.
The thing about writing is this; it’s not easy. It’s not. It’s impossibly hard. And I think every author I know, and even ones I don’t, have probably thought a time or two about giving up. Or having hit a wall so high, and hard, carved out of stone, that they can’t seem to break through it, or know how to scale it. There are no easy ways to combat this type of moment. Or rather, moments that seem to stretch the length of time; days turning into weeks, and months, and then, maybe even years.
We, in the industry, call this Writer’s Block. It’s sort of funny. It is. That writers are the only collective profession in the world that have given a word to some unforeseen force that takes over and allows them not to work. Not to get the job done.
“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”
~ Philip Pullman
I never used to believe in Writer’s Block. I thought it was just an excuse, or something imaginary in the mind that writers gave too much power to, and eventually, it just takes over. I was the person with a million ideas, stories that begged to be written, that constant hum, or whisper, that I attributed to my Muse. My mythical friend that helped guide my way. I woke up and was desperate to let my fingers caress the keyboard and allow words to flow through me, creating works of brilliant and masterful art; or at least, what I thought was brilliant and masterful art, that part was (and always will be) up for debate.
But then, one day, it was gone. That whispering Muse, the inkling to write, that desperation to release my inner most thoughts and desires onto a page, for fear if I didn’t, I’d explode. It was just gone. I lost that motivation. That courage. I had let the imaginary Writer’s Block get the best of me. Days turned into weeks, eventually lending the way to months and before I knew it, almost a whole year had passed. Sure, I wrote things. Grocery Lists, and To-Do Lists, and maybe when I heard that barest hint of my Muse speaking to me, I’d write a little more, but it never amounted to much. I could never seem to harness the voice, control it, and force it to help me write something of substance.
I truly had begun to think it was gone. Forever. That I had written the creativity right out of me. But that seemed, and felt, just as absurd as admitting I was suffering from Writer’s Block. I had given in, and given it too much power, and it began to consume me. And deep down, it killed me.
Sure, I told myself I was still a writer, an Author. I kept up the façade I had created, and taught a few classes at a library, preaching about all the ways one can become a better writer. Lesson One: Write. Write every day. Write your heart out, and bleed your soul onto the page.
I needed that reminder. And encouragement. A cheerleader that understood all the ups and downs of the profession. I had/have my own fan club, a select few people who are supportive, and stand by me, and encourage me. But I needed more. I needed someone that truly understood, from the prospective only another writer can have, and I needed to ask for help.
Well, maybe I didn’t out right ask for it, but this person, saw something in me. That creative edge. An ember of what used to be there, and was willing to help me figure out a way to reignite it. Reminding me of all the wonderful things that I love about writing and why I would be doing myself a disservice to just give up.
So Capturing the Muse… it all started with a friend. And a writing prompt.
That’s right. Who knew? A silly writing prompt and that push I needed to just try. It was something so simple. Write about a writer who had lost their muse, and needed to figure out how to get it back.
I had to remind myself to start small. No pressure. To just let the prompt help me do the work. Allowing myself to capture my muse and bring it forth.
I think, we as writers, sometimes get overwhelmed by the big picture, the pressure to produce, to please, to entertain, and we forget, or begin to forget and let fade that creative spark that fills us and motivates us. I think, when writing truly begins to feel like a job, something you no longer look forward to doing when you wake up in the morning, and dread sitting at the keyboard, or lose that whisper from your muse, you need to step back. Take a breath. And remember what about writing you loved so much.
I love telling stories. I loved the idea of entertaining other people. And with that friend, and that prompt, eventually leading to more prompts and more stories, and that faith and encouragement, I was reminded about all the good things about writing. Reminded about how awesome it feels to just let your heart and soul speak, create characters, and write prose.
In a way, a lot of the inspiration behind this collection of short stories, is myself. That writer who lost their muse. Pieces of me are in every story. They are what helped me push forward, crumble that wall, and release some of my own inhibitions. Because with writing, sometimes you just have to change things up. And, boy, did I ever! This was an exploration of monument proportions, and something totally knew to me.
And I’m sure, now, some of you are wondering if I’ve recaptured my muse, again? Maybe not completely; but this, taking these stories, and entertaining people, and putting them out into the world, is a good start.