Here at BlondeWriteMore we (the dog and I) like to make important and thought provoking observations about the craft of writing. We are both hoping today’s post will resonate with a few of you.
This post is dedicated to all those writers out there, who, like me, do not receive fully formed story ideas from their creative muse. Our ideas come to us in random pieces. We have to spend a fair amount of time having heated internal conversations with our creative muse which start with…‘what the heck do you expect me to do with this?’
We find ourselves looking longingly at those lucky writers who tweet or write about FULLY FORMED IDEAS coming to them while they were going about their daily business. They did not have to spend days, weeks and even months chewing over the strange fragments of a story idea (can be as little as an odd image in your head) which their creative muse has proudly served up. They do not have to work out really basic stuff like the characters, the order of things and this is embarrassing to say…but the actual frigging story. It is clear that these writers were at the front of a different queue when creative muses were being assigned.
Every year I write on my Santa list – to get a fully formed story idea. I now think Santa and my creative muse are in cahoots.
I say all this but actually trying to piece together the random snippets of a story is fun (*flashes botox’d smile at the laptop*) and my excitement levels soar when I FINALLY work out how the fragments and odd shaped pieces of a story fit together (*second flash of my botox’d smile*)
This is why I believe there are SIMILARITIES between writing and assembling flat packed furniture.
For noting: if you are a whiz at putting flat packed furniture together and you get fully formed story ideas sadly this post is not for you.
- That moment when your flat pack furniture arrives with no instructions. You and your loved one stare in horror at the random bits of wood, some nails, a few screws and NO SIGN OF ANY INSTRUCTIONS. What the hell do you do now? This is very similar to your creative muse delivering a story idea in bits and not telling how you put it together.
- That moment when you have spent six LONG hours with your loved one trying to put your new wardrobe together and have only threatened to divorce them twice. This is similar to spending all day working out how to piece together bits of your new story idea and only threatening to sack your creative muse four times.
- That moment when you finally assemble your new dressing table and it doesn’t look like what you ordered and weirdly it doesn’t resemble a dressing table. This is familiar because I have worked on a new story idea, which was gifted to me by my creative muse in bits (several weeks apart) and once I’d written it I realised it wasn’t a romance. I wasn’t even sure what it was because it was very weird and I came close to burying it at the bottom of my garden.
- That moment when you and your loved one finally assemble your new wardrobe unit (after six back breaking hours) and you realise you still have pieces in the box. Tears of frustration roll down your face as your loved one reminds you of the argument you both had during the first hour and that this proves they were RIGHT about pieces being missed. In deathly silence you both take apart your wardrobe and re-assemble it using the missing pieces. This is similar to writing a story based on the bits your creative muse gave you and ignoring that nagging feeling that there’s something missing. It is only until you have spent FIVE weeks of your life writing the damn story that you realise on reading it through that it is missing an important element. Your muse gives you a mischievous look and points out that YOU chose not to include that element and it’s lying DISCARDED at the back of your mind and crossed out on your notes. In deathly silence you take apart your story and add the missing bit.
- That moment when you and your loved one sort out the many different parts of your new shelving unit which has come flat packed ready for assembling. You find yourselves sorting them into little piles labelled; ‘screws’, ‘wood,’ and ‘mysterious bits to confuse people like us.’ This is very similar to sitting down with a notepad and writing down all the fragments of a new story idea which your creative muse is hailing as ‘a future bestselling novel.’ You write down every bit of the idea under the headings labelled; ‘characters,’ ‘plot’, ‘random scenes’ and ‘weird stuff to confuse me’.
- That moment when you go on Facebook and your friend is boasting about how her and her loved one assembled their new bedroom furniture in under an hour and then gives the impression that they spent the evening making mad passionate love. Meanwhile you and your loved one are entering the seventh circle of hell with putting together your new kitchen cupboards and you’ll be lucky to go near each other later let alone make mad passionate love. This is very similar to going on Twitter and seeing a writing acquaintance boasting about coming up with a brand new story idea in under ten minutes and then spending the next half hour writing a fabulous synopsis. After all this she and her husband enjoyed a romantic candle lit dinner and an early night. Meanwhile you and your creative muse are entering the seventh circle of hell with putting your half baked story idea together. You have been at your writing desk for some time, your pet dog has gone into hiding and your loved one has just informed you he’s broke the coffee machine. After all this you are planning to fire your creative muse and ask your loved one to sleep in the spare bedroom.
You might think after reading this that I’m not grateful for being assigned my creative muse. In an ideal world my muse would bring me fully formed stories and I would spend my days tweeting about my great writing life.
However, the reality is that I have a muse who sends me half baked story ideas which require a lot of thought. The feeling of accomplishment once I have added all the pieces together is HUGE and makes up for all the agonising hours I spend trying to work out the order of the bits.
My debut novel came to me in pieces and judging how well it has done – my muse can carry on doing its thing. Seeing readers on Facebook last night commenting on how much they enjoyed my book made me cry.
The moral of this tale is – love your writing process x