All authors get to a point in their writing life, where they feel they have plumbed the depths of the well the Muse provides, and begin to doubt that they have anything else to offer. This is usually a case of stagnation within the milieu of new experience. Without new input, new contrasts in our day to day lives, we can only reiterate what we have already learned.
I had reached this point a few weeks ago. I feared that the 12 books I have in print and the 2 I’m almost finished with, were to be the last. I couldn’t imagine having another fresh idea, even though I had just completed an entirely fresh novel from start to finish (Baggage). This book wasn’t based on anyone I knew, and it had no personal experiences in it. I want to have an equal number of mainstream books as I do “gay” ones, to increase my chances of finding a mainstream publisher or agent.
So I’ve been trying to break away from the need to write about only gay characters. I also needed to write without the temptation of including numerous sex scenes. It can sometimes be a cop-out to do that. So Baggage had no Gay characters, none of them inspired by anyone I knew, including myself, no scenes that were based on something that happened to me or anyone else in my life. It was entirely new. So I was pleased to have accomplished that goal.
But then, as I was about to complete the other few I had not finished, it occurred to me that I had no more tidbits after that, in my writing files, from whence to nurture and develop a new story. I spent so many years writing portions of books and then putting them away, that I had plenty to work with.
The day came when I was nearing completion of all those old projects, and was faced with the impending task of creating something entirely new.
As the days wore on, I still couldn’t think of anything, still couldn’t find inspiration that would give me the new book. So I let go of it. Not for long, just a few days, and asked my subconscious mind each night to provide something in my sleep. Dreams have always been a rich source of material for me. From the odd short story, The House of Escher, (included in the collection,�Brainmatter) to any number of springboard scenarios that became various novels, my dreaming mind could always serve up something new and interesting.
I knew I needed to focus on other things and other people, and try to break out of my routine for awhile. I created about 7 new paintings, (Shown on left) having been inspired by the work of Russian artist, Wassily Kandinski, and watched a lot of TV and movies, and read about 3 new Koontz novels, since he has been such a mentor to me. I have studied his writing for a long time, because I wanted to understand how he managed to provide so much reading pleasure. I have actually figured out how he accomplished this on many levels, and that has been helpful to my writing in many ways. I hoped that reading him again, and getting all this other input, would stir something up.
My best friend and I had been talking about the concept of Walk-ins, and I had read some material about it out of curiosity. Then, after having headaches everyday lately, and some blurred vision, I had a tragic fantasy that my eyesight might be in danger. That led me to consider that I hadn’t ever written about a blind character.
After that, I had this image in one of my dreams, of a woman standing on a precipice. She is shot in the shoulder and falls into the void. That was not a dream that was much fun to wake up from, since the woman was myself. While I suspect it was some subconscious fear that my love life has been killed by the lack of hope, and I feel I am about to descend into some romantic void, I ignored this in favor of using it for fodder.
Then, I used a method that had worked for me before: taking previous seedlings of unrelated ideas and putting them together to see what happened. It’s kind of like creative cooking. You know that certain things go together, but then you throw in a few things to see if it tastes different or better.
From this collection of disparate ideas, my muse baked me something new.
I now have the seedlings for a new book, and am working on it along with completing the two novellas in progress. (Those–Quintessence and Another Justice–should be available in November). The new book, is as yet untitled, but that always reveals itself in the writing, unless I have begun with the title itself.
The blurb I have so far, concerning what the book is to be about, is:
“A non-physical walk-in soul makes an agreement with another incarnated soul to take over her body. The Walk-in, perhaps too fearless, and too hungry for the pleasures of the flesh, discovers she has inherited the life of a Mormon goody-two-shoes who is live-in caregiver for two men–one blind, the other wheelchair bound.
And someone is trying to kill her.”
My Muse still breathes.