On Sunday I wrote a post about finding inspiration in likely places (click here to read it). On Monday I found my muse in a very unlikely place. I was across town from home buying office supplies when I realized I was hungry. I went to a nearby Chick-fil-A because there isn’t one near my house yet (they are building it though). I don’t have it very often and I was in the mood for ice cream so it was the perfect choice.
I sat in a corner booth that somehow made me feel like I wasn’t surrounded by a huge lunch crowd. Luckily I had thought ahead and had a folder with me containing a mini-workshop from Holly Lisle. One never knows when they’ll find time to write so I figured it was better to be prepared. I’m so thankful I did this.
Eating came first but I was itching to get into the writing even though I had nothing in mind. I was only hoping something would come to me. I’d done this workshop before but I already had a halfway written story and I did it to help me get it in order in my head. It worked but I feel like it was inevitable it would help because I had a story, I just needed some structure so I didn’t get lost or worked into a corner along the way.
This time I had no ideas and didn’t actually believe it would work since I’ve had trouble lately. However, I was finally off all medications from my surgery and there was at least a chance my muse would come out and play.
I was so nervous as I opened the folder! Fear is a powerful demotivater, as I’ve learned over the years but I was determined I would come up with a story, even if it sucked. It described different ways to develop a story but used characters for the workshop. One of the first things it told me to do was to sum up what I know about my character in one short paragraph.
Panic set in. I knew it was panic because a lady sitting five tables away made a weird face at me and looked concerned. I registered her reaction but chose to ignore it because I was busy freaking out. How the hell was I supposed to come up with a character when I’ve barely been able to have ideas about things I’ve already started?
So I did what came naturally and stared at the ceiling. For how long, I’ll never know but it worked. Somehow I made a character who has a weird and dangerous form of magic. She is living with a group of people with the same powers, an order if you will. They are going to force her to take a human life on her birthday so she runs away the night before. The order aren’t willing to let her go so she lives on the run. Also, with her type of magic, regular people fear her and won’t accept her.
The poor girl is going to go through the ringer. As I followed my directions and wrote what I knew about her I was surprised I knew so much. I managed to come up with a central idea, many of the things she goes through, at least four other characters (they are a little vague right now), and how I want it to end. In the workshop you are supposed to do all the things I listed then write a few sentences about the big scenes you can’t wait to write. I ended up with seven before my back started hurting and it was time to go home. For the first time in months I was disappointed I had to Stop writing instead of being upset I couldn’t start!
So I went home and immediately sent a text to my husband and my friend Jesse, who is also a writer, about what happened. It wasn’t bragging, it was just joy. Of course I told them both way more than they needed to know about the story.
The day got better later. I met up with Jesse at a coffee shop to talk writing and while we were there another writer, who neither of us knew very well but had been around during Nanowrimo events, came over to say hi. She’d been in another area of the shop working on her stuff and only meant to say hi and bye but three hours later we all left. It was great getting to know this woman.
Chatting with other writers was amazing. We talked some about our stories but mostly about novels by famous authors, gaming, movies, and…everything! It made me realize how much I miss and need a writing group. There is one this lady goes to on Sunday afternoons that I’ve been meaning to go to but I was waiting for my recovery to be finished or at least further along. Also fear. I was afraid I wouldn’t have anything to talk about since my creativity was on hiatus.
I’m not afraid anymore. In addition, I’m feeling pretty good about writing. I know I need to work my way back to normal but I can see it’s possible now. There are no more roadblocks, only hurdles. I can handle some hurdles.
I mentioned Chick-fil-A was an unlikely place to find inspiration but I’ll have to put it on my ‘likely place’ list now. Soon there will be one four blocks from my house, they have wi-fi and I learned it doesn’t matter how busy it gets, I can still write there.
Photo by the amazing Ryan McGuire