I used to scoff at the idea of a Muse who would inspire my writing. I put my butt in the chair every day, pounding out words. I fed my subconscious creativity with books, films, and art, and trained myself to get in touch with that subconscious on a regular basis through journaling and free writing. I believed that what people called a Muse was just their subconscious popping up for a visit, unrecognizable in the funny hat and period dress. I believed the Muse was a mythical creature… until I met her.
My Muse is apparently the hot, supermodel alter-ego of my subconscious.
Me: Okay! We’ve got an hour-and-a-half drive ahead of us, no kids, no husband. Nothing but straight highway and dead Illinois crops. Whatcha got for me, subconscious?
Subconscious: How about a new novel idea?
Me: Just so! Last time I had this much time alone in the car, we hatched the ideas for TWO novels. Where do we start?
Me: Yeah… last week I was thinking that someday I’d like to write a really cool anti-hero. Let’s see… where to start…
Subconscious: Vein of Gold?
Me: Right! That creative exercise I did with my friends on retreat was really cool! And surprisingly helpful in finding those vein of gold ideas, or story elements, that really turn my gears and make for great stories. So… what films or books have I seen with really awesome anti-heroes?
Subconscious: Blade Runner, Batman, White Cat, Eisler’s John Rain books…
Me: Wait, Batman is an anti-hero?
Subconscious: Dark. Badass gadgets.
Me: Yeah, but he’s basically a hero, just overcoming a childhood wound. He was always fighting for justice. Not like John Rain. That guy’s a killer, an assassin, tons of bad acts… but he’s seeking redemption. He’s trying to figure out how to use his powers for good.
Subconscious: Like Cassel.
Me: Exactly! In White Cat, Cassel is a good man with a bad power.
Me: Oh yeah, Sasha… even in my own work, I’ve played with this character type before. In The Scribe, Sasha was definitely a good man with bad power. And it was all about him figuring out how to master that power before it destroyed him. Master it. Use it for good. That story practically wrote itself.
Muse: The Debt Collector.
Me: Er, what? Who are you?
Muse: When people’s debts exceed their future potential contributions to society, he cashes them out.
Me: Whoa. Tell me more.
Muse: He extracts their life energy and transfers it to a “high potential” – someone who can use it to make greater contributions to the world.
Me: Holy Crap. That’s a great idea.
Muse: He’s a good man with bad power. And it’s future-noir.
Me: Future-noir! Cool! Uh, what is that exactly?
Muse: Dark. Gritty. Futuristic but retro at the same time.
Me: Oh… like Blade Runner… Holy Crap, this is awesome.
Muse: You’re welcome.
Subconscious: Who was that?
Me: I have no idea, but I have this great story idea, all about a debt collector. But… wait. I don’t have time to write this! Maybe… maybe… I could just make it a short story. A novella, like Sasha’s.
Subconscious: Debt. Health Care. Powers. Gritty. Urban. Dark. Darker. Really Dark.
Me: Slow down! *pulls off highway* I’m taking notes!
Subconscious: Societal winners and losers. Obsession. Addiction. Hard-boiled. Gritty. Grittier.
Me: Holy crap. I need to write this now. Like now, now. Like I’m not sure I can wait until I get home… but I don’t have time for a novel… I have these other stories I’m supposed to write. I can just keep it to a novella, right? Just a short story?
Subconscious: Sure. Good luck with that.
So, that became this…
I loved it. Heck, I was dreaming the scenes after I wrote them. I threw it out to some crit partners. They loved it too…
I thought I was done, but this idea that the Muse planted in my head won’t let go. I’m already planning two more novellas, possibly a whole series of novellas, designing cover art in my head, and rearranging my schedule so that I can write more Debt Collector. I’ve never written a story this fast before. I’ve never had a story flow like a firehose onto the page before. But the Muse dropped this idea in my head and now my subconscious is going nuts and I can’t shut him up. So, I’m going with it, instead of fighting it.
But the next time I have a long car ride alone, I’m turning on my iPod, and hoping the Muse doesn’t show up and annihilate all my plans with a killer idea again.
At least until I’m done writing this one.