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Obstacles – Muse and Editor

Alrighty-Ro (I was just thinking of the Jetsons’ dog Astro as I was writing that), we are off-and-running. So I finished the first class and I can tell already this isn’t going to be just any ordinary writing course. As the title says the first class was all about obstacles. As it turns out there are things I have been doing for the last 40 years that have thrown up obstacles in my ability to write. And these weren’t obstacles like my lousy grammar, though that is a problem in itself. These were life type of obstacles that were somewhat related to my personality and as such subsequently impact my lifestyle not just my writing.

So I bet you want to know what they were. Or maybe you don’t, but that is what this blog is all about, so I am going to tell you anyways. Well actually, I can’t tell you too much about the obstacles because if I told you everything I learned in the class it would kind of defeat Holly charging for the course.However I can tell you a little about it and the battle that was waged as I went through the class.

There are actually four Obstacles we focused on in the first class. For me there was one in particular I think has been a big problem for me over the years. Well besides my other character flaws, that I won’t go into right now, I have an issue where I worry about my writing being just right the first time through. What is interesting is that this is primarily associated with my writing. As anyone who knows me really well I am great at organization, but definitely not a perfectionist (just ask my lovely bride when it comes to cleaning :-)). And what happens is in my obsession to make sure that every word is perfect, or in many cases to try and get the right character or place name right the first time, or describe some location or event in exact historical detail, I get bogged down, get frustrated, and I quit. Does this sound familiar for any of you or am I the only person that does this? In fact it took me forever to get the first paragraph of this blog done as I kept starting over to get the exact words (and I’m still not really happy with it).

Holly talks a lot about your Muse. Wikipedia says that Muse comes from Greek Mythology and that it relates to “goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts.” And if you can’t find your Muse you are pretty much DOA as a Writer.

So when I sat down to do the assignment for this particular obstacle it was really difficult. My personal internal Muse doesn’t like me getting bogged down in detail. In fact my Muse is pretty carefree and just wants to play with the words writing down what my Muse thinks without any filtering or checking for historical accuracy. This is just plain crazy, or at least that is what my logical (editorial) self says to my Muse. So what ends up happening is my (internal) Editor and my Muse get into these big arguments. Sometimes it gets really nasty and my Muse will throw random thoughts nearly hitting my Editor; which I’ve told my Muse only escalates the argument — but they never listen. In the meantime I still have a blank page!

So this first class was very helpful in that it made me confront my Muse and my (internal) Editor. It was a very tough meeting. I had to sit them both down and ask them if they really wanted to write a novel — and they both enthusiastically said yes (though the editor was somewhat reserved — a bit of stiff neck if you know what I mean). So I told them we either had to work as a team or we would just end up writing really long e-mails for the rest of our lives (as those of you who know me well, this is something no one wants).

The class had exercises we went through for each of the Obstacles and the one we did for my main issue really helped. I had to just let my Muse go wild for a short period of time. And let me tell you, they had a blast. No inhibitions, no agenda, and no real-time editing (I had to tell my editor they would get their chance to go through it all later — though they may not, but don’t tell them that). Just write for writing’s sake. It was great.

I can tell you I still have a lot of problems in this area. Too much logic and not enough carefree writing. I think I am afraid of not getting it right. Of embarrassing myself by writing something that isn’t just right. Holly promises that we will work on this a lot more in the future, so I am looking forward to that. Well part of me is. I am sure that my Muse and my Editor are only temporarily at peace. We will see what happens in some of the future classes if they can work together for my benefit or if I will have to put one or the other of them in Time-out!

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