So the part of my Muse that I call my sense of structure has apparently been on vacation for the last 8 months, a fact I noticed when it returned this morning at 6:15 to whisper vicious nothings in my ear.
M: “Psst Kelly, I’ve got a question.”
K :”Go ‘way.”
M: “No, really, there’s something I’ve been wondering about.”
K: “No, really, go ‘way.”
M: “You know that bit right at the end….”
K: “Sleeping here.”
M: “Yeah, I heard you the first time. Still gonna ask my question.”
K: “So ask, then go ‘way.”
M: “Right, so that bit at the end where you introduce the thing and that other thing that fixes the first thing.” (Redacted for spoilers)
M: “Well, I can’t help but noticing that the way things are structured now you really do introduce them right at the end even though they’re really important. Do you think that’s such a good idea?”
K: “Sure. I’ve been planning it since I wrote chapter 6. Yes, I introduce them late, but the one solves the other, so it’s not like I’m just pulling a rabbit out of my hat to solve a problem.”
M: “No, more like you’re pulling a carrot out of your sleeve to feed the starving rabbit that just came out of the hat. You’re okay with that?”
K: (waking up more) “Shouldn’t I be?”
M: “I’m sure it’ll be fine. You just go back to sleep.”
K: “All right then.” (Pulls covers over head, just like when there are bats in the room)
M: “Oh, I almost forgot….”
K: Pokes head out again. “What!”
M: “That character you introduce in chapter 8, the one who’s going to be really important in book 2?”
M: “Well, since the character’s familiar is going to be really important at some point don’t you think you should introduce a place to put it?”
K: “Go ‘way!”
M: “Sleep tight.”
K: “I will, thanks. Now to get back to…Oh hell.”
And that’s why at 6:20 this AM I got up and scrawled a note on a post-it note that said:
THINGXXXXXX (redacted for spoilers)
and stuck it to my cell phone. No, I don’t know why I put it there either. I was mostly asleep.
And then, when Laura woke up a couple of minutes later and headed off to do things, I asked her to add EXSANGUINATION TABLE to the note stuck to my cell phone and pulled the covers back over my head. Laura, having lived with a writer for 20+ plus years, just asked where the phone was and let me go back to sleep, which I did. Wonderful lady I’m married to.
Now, I don’t really believe in the Muse as an external force so much as I think of it as a collection of story processing techniques that my brain uses at a level below the conscious, often while I’m dreaming, and all of which make my job enormously less difficult. The sense of structure is really the latest major upgrade to the system, having come along in the middle of my tenth novel. So, it’s the one I rely on the least (I can plot perfectly well without it, thank you very much), which is why I didn’t notice its absence until it returned. But, like all the other bits of Muse I’ve built over the years, I know that when it does show up I’d damn well better listen.
So, I’ll just leave you with this:
(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog August 18 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)