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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sorry, But I Don't Understand Writers Who Wait For "The Muse"

The Olympics are over and I can’t decide whether I wish my parents had put in me gymnastics or swimming. On one hand, I’d get to try for the coveted gymnastics all-around title and stand beside Mary Lou and Nastia. On the other hand, I’d get one of those ridiculously toned “swimmer bodies” and make millions of dollars in endorsements after my eighth gold medal. Ah, decisions…

But since I didn’t excel at any form of athletics (again, does cheerleading count?), I’ve found myself looking at the skills I was born with. As such, I stumbled upon this article in The Oregonean. It asks writers whether they sit around waiting for divine inspiration (i.e. the muse) or whether they tough it out and fight for their stories like athletes do for Olympic gold.

I have to say my writing style is definitely all muscle.

Personally, I never really understood those writers who claim they don’t control their stories, that they are merely the vessels for the infamous muse. They feel that stories are channeled through them and they were simply the medium who is honored enough to tell the tale. “Oh, come to me, almighty powerful God of Inspiration!”

I wish.

That’s not to say that I don’t get inspired. I did wake up one morning after having dreamt that I was a young adult author—along with the idea for an entire series of novels. No joke, this dream is what inspired me to write my first book (still available, if there are any publishers reading).

But I also put in the work to write that novel—fighting, clawing, and kicking it out of me. Usually when I’m working on a first draft, I write 3,000 words a day. That’s all muscle. There isn’t some magical fairy hidden in my desk writing those words for me. In fact, sometimes I sit at the keyboard feeling like I’ve gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson.

That said, if I had to compare my writing style to that of an athlete—and having just watched the summer Olympics—I’d say my writing style is most like water polo.



I spend the majority of my time treading water and swimming in circles, but every once in a while there’s a break in the madness and I get the perfect shot off. That’s when it’s all worth it—when you read back a chapter, a scene, a paragraph and you think, “Wow, that’s pretty good.”

Of course at the end you’re ridiculously exhausted and even if you get the gold, most of the world still has no idea who you are—but hey, you know you scored the winning water polo goal. We can’t all be Kobe Bryant (Who graduated the same year as me from a neighboring high school. I saw him play in my high school gym.)



Writing is hard. The Olympics are hard. And getting to the finish line of either of those endeavors is pretty awesome.

POP-CULTURE RANT: Closing Ceremonies

Okay, clearly the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Games were sick. They had more performers participating than there were athletes competing—that’s insane. And they were totally worth it. I was in awe of the high level of thinking it took to choreograph that. But was it just me or did the Closing Ceremonies seem to run a little long? And by long, I mean a few Chinese pop singers too many (don’t even get me started on Jackie Chan with a microphone). I think they should’ve quit why they were ahead—with that cool Memory Tower. Because it’s a little hard to tout your country’s “musical sensations” when you’ve got London’s 2012 committee bringing out Jimmy Paige, Leona Lewis and David Beckham. ‘Nuf said. Point London.

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1 Comments:

OpenID anniegirl1138 said...

Oh, I don't know. There is something to the "muse" and "channeling" thing because otherwise everyone could write fiction. But there is definitely more work than manna from heaven.

August 29, 2008 at 10:48 AM  

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