Camp NaNoWriMo Campfire Story Week 3: Do You Rely on the Writing Muse?

writing muse

We’re back for week 3 of Camp NaNoWriMo with another campfire story to keep you on your toes!

Do You Rely on the Writing Muse?

writing museJust about every English-speaking author has heard of the Writing Muse. The spirit of inspiration that fills the mind with words and ideas, makes the story flow, and is the bane of writer’s block.

Most authors eventually learn to write whether or not the Muse is with them. But a few have always relied on the Muse, either because it has always been with them or they have never tried to write without it.

And every NaNoWriMo some of these writers come to grief when the Muse abandons them.

A few years ago, a young and eager writer signed up for CampNaNoWrimo. He had written many short stories and wanted to try writing a novel. Knowing he could sometimes write several thousand words an hour, he didn’t expect to have any problems meeting the deadline.

He had a good story idea, something that had been sitting in his mason jar for a while because it was too complex for a short story. He did a bit of plotting, pre-NaNo. Nothing too involved, but enough to know who his characters were and the general direction the story would take. And when the 1st rolled around he started writing.

The Muse, as always, was with him. Words flowed, scenes rolled. By the end of the first week, he was halfway to his final word count.

When the Muse left in the middle of the second week, he wasn’t concerned. He was well ahead of schedule and the Muse had left before. It would come back. He was sure of it.

By the middle of the third week, he was getting worried. The Muse hadn’t returned, even for a short time. And now he was falling behind schedule. But, he reassured himself, when the Muse was with him, the words flowed. He’d make up the work. There was plenty of time.

The last day of the third week he sat down at his computer and stared at the draft. Willing the Muse to return and bring the words back. He tried, for the first time to write without the Muse. It was slow and painful, pulling one word or phrase out at a time and erasing as much as he wrote because it was never right. But he made some progress.

The fourth week he was desperate. He sat down each day and tried to write. Where in the past he had turned out several thousand words an hour, now he was lucky to make several hundred. At this rate, he would never finish before the 31st.

Maybe, if he had forced himself to write without the Muse from the moment it left… Maybe, if he had relied on himself for his story instead of the flighty Muse… Maybe then he would have had a chance to make the deadline.

As it was, he could only count the days and hope that the Muse would return…

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Michon Neal is the originator of Cuil Press and our resident Gentleman Goddess and visionary. Today ze is sharing a glimpse of Lilith from hir upcoming book In the Time of Toba.

Between the mountains on the far side of our Valley, I saw my beloved friend drop down from rock to rock. With the ease of a treed creature — or perhaps even a skyed one — Lilith bounded along the backs of my beastly brethren, sistren, and otherkin. Her flips and slides and dashes and leaps drew a whirl of dust and particles in her wake that eddied and blossomed behind and around her.

Several Dragons sniffed the air appreciatively, breathing in information on our visitors, digesting her tears and fears. I appreciated the candor that always accompanied Lilith, streaming about her countenance as if it were a set of wings or armor. Across the Valley, wings of crimson, gold, sheer blue, and translucent violet stirred, bringing in the delicious secrets on the wind and in the beams of moonlight. The stars bent their own light to us, rolling through velveteen space and kissed only by time.

With skin the rich brown of fertile, glorious Earth, Lilith drew nearer, with the red moon throwing up highlights of maroon, orange, and purple in the deeper layers of her dermis. A bit of silver edged her curves and angles; she literally shone, lit from within.

Not far behind her, a shadowy figure traversed, mirroring her path in kind, but of a much larger size. A Nephilim, diamond-winged and tall as one of my claws, where she was hardly up to my tooth. He revelled in the essence of her recent past, playing in the memories she’d left behind. He danced into her footsteps, ever the faithful double. With glee, he found his place atop my head as she nestled in by my eye. I could smell him peering down upon her, his curiosity unfurling like the open entrails of one of those delicious unicorns. My tail languidly curled and swung back and forth as I readied myself. Samael was a well of mischief, but he was nothing if not fair.

After all, he wasn’t the Left Hand of God for nothing.