Dancing muse

Friday night was the holiday party for my husband’s work, which meant actual sociability for me. And since the college he works at has an immersive Chinese theme for the year, they had performances of Chinese music and dance. For one of the dances, the red and green lights scattered about the ceiling reminded me of fireflies, and I imagined the dances being performed outside in a summer moonlit courtyard. For another, the slow, deliberate movements reminded me of underwater motion; at some point, there will be dancers underwater or in space in one of my stories, inspired by this night.

Sometimes, that’s the way the muse works for me — I’ll see something and know how it will be useful, if not when or where.

Other times, I have to remind myself to look for the basic truths behind what I see. As I mentioned, my husband works at a college. One of the novels I have out on submission takes place around a small town college, and I hope to turn it into a series (publisher willing). However, I have to make sure not only that none of my characters are based on anybody I know but also that no one will stop to ask if these characters are based on them.

So I have to take it all in and feed the muse, then take a step or two away from reality, which isn’t always easy.

The process isn’t always the same. Sometimes I know where life’s material will go. Sometimes I can see how to combine it with something I’ve read or heard. Sometimes things will go where I don’t expect. Sometimes, life is just life. It’s all good.

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  3. Sounds like it was worth the effort of going. 😀

  4. That temptation to model characters after real people even accidentally is really difficult. I had a cousin once get really upset about a first draft nasty character that she thought I had modeled after her lifestyle choices. It wasn’t pleasant for a while, but I’ve gotten a lot more careful about a) who reads the first drafts and b)how they could be interpreted beyond my viewpoint.

    • That second part is the tricky one — so many people might think a character was based on them, when it’s a bit of a childhood friend, a dash of a public figure, the worst reaction I could imagine, and just a pinch of somebody else I once worked. Or maybe I had a neighbor in mind and a relative thought I was talking about them. So difficult!

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