Friday, July 23, 2010

When the Muse Won't Shut Up

It was three AM. My dreams weren't the sweet release of the subconscious, but a worried rehash and argument with my characters of my latest book. Like a critique partner had said in an email, they agreed I'd ended the book too abruptly and "too soon."

Like so many authors, I hate a book by the time I'm done with it. Really. I loved the characters through most of the story, but as I slogged through the process of writing, the tedious details of making sure the reader could see what I saw slowly ate away at my joy until I loathed the whole thing and longed to toss the whole manuscript out the window and delete the files. Only long experience kept me in my chair, grinding my teeth and slogging through.

My editor, bless her, knows me well. She knows a few of the right words at the right time keep me going. She also knows how much I despise a book when I finally turn it in. She wisely takes her time and never gives me a book back in less than a week, no matter how quickly she finishes a first round of edits. In one week, I've had enough time to rest where I realize that I did rush things, or forgot to include a scene, or whatever. Then she hands the edits back to me with more encouraging words.

This time has proven no different. I finished the first draft yesterday, and typically, I want to torch it. I want to do evil things to the characters that have nothing to do with the story. Despite a sleeping pill, the bastards woke me up with nagging comments about how my crit partner was right.

1. They agreed with her that, while the fight scene worked, there's no adequate bridge that makes the peaceful scene that follows work. It's jarring. However, they also agree that nothing much happened other than their wedding.

2. Then they remind me that they don't like tuxes, and neither of them are a drag queen, so now my mind burns with the question of what do gay men wear for a wedding when they hate tuxes, aren't transvestites, and don't get into "weird costume dramas disguised as weddings"?

(I hate those bastards.)

3. Then the Dire Wolf points out that I've established certain shifter species were around as far back as the Pleistocene era of history. The armchair paleontologist in me goes nuts, saying I have to now return with these characters to discover other Pleistocene creatures and explain why the shifters evolved and who went extinct or evolved into creatures we know today. ::Headdesk::

4. Then those bastards point out that I've now established a precedent for a paranormal detective agency with paranormal PI's solving crimes and mysteries. Don't I want to go play with the chupacabre detective, the banshee receptionist, and (who the hell is this??) the "reformed" succubus detective who falls for a defrocked priest? ::scream::

Sadly, they're right. (I'm trying not to shudder and reach for my DH's lighter.) Even more sadly, I'm over my word count and way past my deadline. Likely, my editor and I will have to attack what I've written with a machete, not a scalpel. That's fine. That's what my editor is for. She keeps me from looking like a chump. She and my crit partners keep alternately pounding on my back encouragingly or bopping me upside the head for being a moron. I love them for it.

Yeah, being a writer means I live inside a masochistic sort of insane asylum with people actually encouraging the inmates to commit maximum mayhem. I am not in charge. There's a bipolar sadistic muse in charge. Who let her in?? Oh. Yeah. Me.

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