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My muse’s name is Forrest

on July 4th, 2011 by Shannon

Actually, that title is a little misleading. Up until yesterday, I thought my muse was a woman. Her name is Suzie, and  in a word, she’s pushy. Her voice is a running commentary in my head.

“Did you finish that chapter yet? What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to be able to send that rewrite to Ms. Agent, the one who said she liked your voice and would love to read a revision? Do you want her to lose interest? You know how the story ends, just hurry up and finish already.”

So, Suzie can be annoying. Still, she’s the voice in my head that pushes me on and I have to love her for that.

And then there’s Forrest. I never really considered Forrest a muse. He was more like my bad angel. Forrest says things like, “What’s the hurry? Publishing moves slowly. You don’t want to rush things,” and “Momma always said, writing is like a box of cho-co-lates. Hey, maybe instead of writing, you should eat a box of cho-co-lates!” (Forrest is smart like that.) So he knows about chocolate, but in terms of writing, I always defer to Suzie. She’s the go-getter.

Or so I thought.

This weekend, those two really got into it. Suzie was all up in my business, with her “You already know the ending, just write it for gosh sakes!” and “If you don’t plant your butt in that chair, I’m leaving and I’m never coming back,” while Forrest was saying, “It’s a beautiful weekend. Sit on the deck, have a mimosa and enjoy this moment. Beauty like this is fuel for your muse.” Of course, I thought he meant Suzie. And I hated to tell him, but she is not a stop and smell the roses kind of gal.

But I deferred to Forrest, as I often do, feeling slightly guilty but enjoying the patterns of sunlight on the leaves and the sounds of the birds in the trees anyway.

 And then something amazing happened.

I saw the ending of my book. Right there, like a gift from the writing gods. Or more likely, a gift from Forrest. We’d had it all wrong, Suzie and I. That bit character that she wanted me to cut because he had no purpose, and I resisted because I couldn’t stomach any more bloodshed, it turns out he’s integral to the plot! And Forrest knew it all along. Or maybe he knew that I knew it, and he just wanted to give me a chance to figure it out. Whatever the case, if I hadn’t slowed down and let the story simmer, if I’d pushed through and written it quickly, poor Jack would be dead, my ending would have fallen flat, and I’d have been left with that deflated balloon feeling in the pit of my stomach, wondering where I’d gone wrong and why my perfect story didn’t feel so perfect after all.

Instead, I’m going to finish that perfect story after all. I’m happy, Forrest is happy, and even Suze is happy.

It fills me with a sense of wonder, this process. I learn something new every time I sit down to write. Today, I discovered that I have not one, but two muses.

Also, never call Susie “Suze.” She’s not some pom-pom waving backseat bimbo, after all.

It’s also possible that I might be suffering from some sort of mental instability. But that is a topic for another post.

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