If you’ve been following the Pen and Parchment for awhile, it’s probable you know about my crazy hectic schedule. School’s coming to an end for the Spring Semester, Finals are almost over (if I can survive them) and I’ve been planning some big things for this summer. First up on my plate is to finish the new and much improved rewrite of “Song of the Daystar”. I want to have it completed by August, if at all possible (which it may not be… maybe by the end of August). This means that aside from my training sessions at the school for my position as a writing tutor which begins next fall, and the fact that I need a summer job – preferably something along the lines of my career choice (I’m thinking about starting a business in my area as a creative writing teacher for homeschoolers over the summer, inspired by my wonderful mother’s faith in my abilities. :D), my summer days will be filled with hectic and (hopefully) inspired writing moments.
However, there has been just one little problem with my plans; my muse decided to take a long and quite unexpected vacation several months ago. You’ve heard me complain of this before, I’m sure. I’ve been just plain stuck, and for a long time it seemed that nothing I did would coax my muse to come back before she decided to. How on earth am I supposed to plan a summer filled with writing endeavors when my muse refuses to stick around long enough for me to include her in my plans?
But last night (that would be the night of Thursday the 12th), I was rewarded with a very pleasant surprise. I had just put down my German homework for a much needed break and was flipping lazily through my video files when I came across a file that I had completely forgotten about. It was a writer’s prompt issued by Arwen9 (also known as Liz) over at the Sci-fi/fantasy thread on the Writers’ Digest forum. The reason for the prompt was to inspire a short story no longer than 5k to enter into the summer short story competition. (They have regular short story competitions over on that forum. Depending on the amount of entrants, the top three stories voted on receive a sparkly cyber trophy that the author can post in their sig-line. :D) This particular prompt was different from the previous prompts I’d seen, as it was both a visual and audio prompt, which is why I had decided to download the file in the first place.
The visual prompt is just a single picture of what looks to be a regular girl standing out in the rain in a yellow raincoat with sniper lasers trained on her as she holds out a grenade in one hand for all to see and dangles the pin from the first finger of her other hand. The music is a slightly repetitive score, but very thrilling at the same time. Changing mostly in volume as it adds more instruments and voices with each repetition, it dips and raises – crescendos and decrescendos – with every replay until the song is absolutely thrumming with tension. It sounds like it would easily fit in some sort of psychological thriller movie, such as Eagle Eye or perhaps Transformers. The idea behind the contest is to write a short story no longer than 5k that is based on the music and the photo, and tells the story of how the girl got to that point in her life.
So back to last night.
I had just pushed play on the video file and had almost finished listening through the first 8 bars, when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there she was with suitcases still in hand, a straw hat flopping over her eyes, and a glorious tan that could never have been coaxed from the Illinois sun at this time of year.
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!” I scolded her. “I’ve been driven almost crazy with lack of imaginative ideas, and you’ve been off getting a tan… A TAN!”
My muse did not say a word but gently set down her suitcases, flashed a smile of pearl white, and leaned over to press my fingers to my keyboard.
My nose crinkled at her. “Oh, so NOW you want to work, do you?”
But instead of answering me, she taped my fingers on the keys a few times, then sat down on my bed and started giving me a back massage.
Now, I knew what she was up to; this was just a ploy – her way of saying she was sorry for deserting me in my time of mental crisis. And perhaps I wasn’t quite ready to forgive her yet – perhaps I should have played the victim a bit longer and really made her feel bad for leaving me all alone and stranded in crazy-weathered Illinois for so many, many months while she went off on vacation and partied it up on some beautiful Caribbean Island meant only for the ethereal threads of the inspirations of the world. However, I have never been able to resist a good back massage, especially when it is administered by my own muse. I’m telling you, people – she is an amazing masseuse!
So I’m lying there on my bed with this tension-building music playing in the background while receiving an extremely relaxing massage from the Embodiment of my Imagination, and right at that moment, I start typing. Typing furiously. In fact, I’m almost sure I saw smoke start to rise from my keyboard as I pounded out the skeletal outline of a story.
Now this story has absolutely nothing to do with SOTD or Eldrei. In fact, I’ve never written a story like this before in my life! And I can’t decide on which genre it is either… Sci-fi? Dystopian? Urban fantasy? Maybe a mix of all of them… Well, whatever it is, this story is going to be great! I can already feel it in my fingers, and my muse is purring right now and kneading my back with her paws (in her cat form, yes… she gets like that sometimes), urging me to continue writing. I’ll have to be careful around her for a few days now… if she decides that I’m not writing enough while she’s in that form, she tends to bring out The Claws of Doom, and believe me… you do NOT want to be wacked with The Claws of Doom. She aims to draw imagination-stirring blood, and that can definitely get in the way of other plans. ;D
Right now I only have the basic outline of the story written. It’s about a page long, not overly detailed, and reads slightly like a book blurb. Later I plan to do some world and character building and see how far I can take this. It should definitely be an interesting journey. This book feels more like a psychological thriller to me than anything else I’ve written… perhaps that is the genre it is? Who really knows?
I do know this though: there is no way this story is going to end at 5k. I don’t think I can even manage a scene without taking it way out of proportion. No… this is a going to be a novel length venture for sure.
It’s a bit of a daunting thought. I mean, I have several other WIP’s all waiting patiently for me to finish them. Eldrei was supposed to be next… Its rewrite has been shelved on and off for a little over 2 years now, much as I still like to work on it when I need a break from SOTD. Eldrei is just too big of a story to rush into… that world has been growing for almost 8 years now, and there’s no way I’m going to do the story any less than the justice it deserves. When I finish writing that book (for real, I mean) and finally start reworking what I have of the second book that will be a good day indeed! But in the meantime, what on earth am I supposed to do with this new story? I don’t want to just put it in a drawer until the idea becomes old and dusty; it deserves better than that.
Ah well. I guess I’ll have to let my wonderings sit and age for awhile. You know what they say: Ideas are like good wine… they get better as they age. :D So I’ll just let my thoughts simmer and continue writing SOTD. At least my muse is back, which means I shouldn’t have as much trouble writing the rest of chapter 3 as I’ve had for the last two months. And I just can’t stay mad at her either. I’m so happy that she’s back, that all I can say to her is, “Welcome Home, Dear Muse. I have missed thee!”
*Reaches out to pet cat-muse and nearly get’s her hands sliced off*
Ah well. At least she chose her cat form this time. Her Dragonian form is MUCH WORSE. :D