Monday, January 29, 2018

Don’t Fight the Muse. She Knows What She’s Doing.

What do you do when your muse is silent? Throw a hissy fit? Sulk? Play the blame game? Me too. But instead of working, these anchor me deeper into the depths of despair.

Don’t you love it when your muse is singing? When she rises in the morning, and dances around the room, whispering sweet everythings in your ear? When she sits with you at the keyboard and pours her heart into your prose?

Me too.
But what about her silence? Those times when she delivers neither inspiration, nor words?

I am learning to love these too.


Because I have discovered my muse always has a reason.
She knows what she's doing.

When nothing flows - the words, the motivation, the ability to be still and write - it is time. Time to stop tormenting myself. To stop churning and surrender to the wide-open yonder. Let go of the need to push on, and through.

I dislike the term “writer’s block". Always have. Yet many a dry spell has shaped my writing experience, including a year-long "block" in the middle of AWEN RISING. Now I finally understand.

When I am unable to write, it's because I have nothing to say.


Because I haven't stopped to listen. Or I am headed down the wrong road. Or there's work to be done before proceeding.

Like researching new settings, names, legends. Or sitting in silence, watching the morning light play on the swift-moving clouds, allowing space for the next thread to appear.

I am learning to trust the muse - because she always knows.

What to do. Where to go. Who to bring along. When to humor wayward characters. How to distinguish the good gals from the bad.

On encountering a deadend while driving, what do you do? Stop, reassess, check the map. Maybe find a new station on the radio. Turn right, left, or flip a U-ey to backtrack.

When hitting a literary wall, we can do the same. Crank the radio. Dance a jig. Run errands. Take a drive. Let the mind wander. Move from the desk to a comfy chair. A cafe. A coffee shop.

I am down to the last scene of AWEN STORM, Book Two of the AWEN trilogy. The main characters are within spitting distance of the final hurrah. And while I’ve known for a long time how this leg will end, and had plans to polish it off this morning, I encountered a wall of resistance.

It sent me out for groceries, in the pre-dawn hour. To Walmart where I loaded up on sugary treats after a brief embargo. McDonald’s for a Egg McMuffin, oh yes I did. Then Winco, because I forgot the crackers.

Back home, I sorted a weeks' worth of clothes and lugged them downstairs. Loaded the washer. Took towels out of the dryer. And in the middle of the laundry room, my muse whispered.

"The ending is already written."

You  mean that cool scene we cut from the prologue of Book One?

"Yessss. That's the one. That's your ending."


My muse isn't being mean. She’s not punishing me. And there’s nothing I have done to offend her. She is calling me to listen. To be still and know.

In this case, extra words would be wasted effort.
The ending is done.

So lighten up. Surrender to the silence. Let your mind wander. Let it play. Your muse will whisper, and you will hear. And the silences will grow shorter and shorter. 

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré

O.J. Barré is author of the Awen trilogy, a genre-bending fantasy set in 2042. Steeped in current, ancient, and future history twists, the Awen series offers danger, adventure and romance for a cast of modern-day druids, dragons, reptilian beings, and magical animals. Book One, Awen Rising, will be released August 1, 2019. Book Two, Awen Storm, in 2020. And Book Three, Awen Tide, in 2021. A prequel set in Medieval France is also planned.

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