Different things mean happiness to different people. I've come t realize that for me it means being totally immersed in writing a novel. Not a little bit involved and not simply putting words on paper, but totally immersed; living the lives of characters I truly care about.
For the past two weeks I've been in a grumpy mood. The slightest little thing annoyed me. The mailman came late, the computer was too slow, the dog chewed a sandal I loved, and my knee hurt. None of these are things that normally would have bothered me, but for they past two weeks they did.
Oh and did I mention that I was between books? I finished PREVIOUSLY LOVED TREASURES in early January and finished a novella called BLUEBERRY HILL, A STORY OF SISTERS two weeks ago. I was between stories. The inside of my head was devoid of characters. A much-needed break, right? Wrong!
Without my characters I was a woman without purpose, a mother without children. I was suffering from empty nest syndrome. I needed to write, but didn't have a story sizzling through my brain. Where was my muse when I needed her? No question, I had to find her and find her fast if I wanted to shake loose the fugue that was approaching.
I did what I have always done, turned off the computer, forgot about the e-mails to answer, the bills to pay, and the posts that should be done. I settled onto the lanai with a good book. This time it was Anna Quindlen's “Still Life with Breadcrumbs.” I love Quindlen's work because, like me, she goes to the heart of the character. She make you love them, hate them, and in the end cheer their triumph over life. I read straight through, stopping only for dinner and admittedly, reading even as I set the table. Before the evening I'd found my Muse. She was darting in and out between poignant thoughts and beautifully composed prose.
Last night as I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, I had already begun the framework for the story I will now write. It's nothing like Ms. Quindlen's, not even a tad. But the depth of her characters inspired me to go in search of mine. In the darkened bedroom, with my husband sound asleep beside me, I realized why my muse had gone missing. For the past two weeks, I'd been searching for a story instead of searching for the characters.
I'll spend the next few weeks getting to know Seth Porter's daughter Melissa and her husband James. Then and only then will I start to tell their story. In the days to come, these people will be with me every waking moment and once I come to truly care about them, I will write about the events in their life. When I do it will be their story, not mine.