Guest blogger: Judythe Morgan
A writer’s muse
Writers possess an indefinable ability to find stories everywhere. An ability many believe comes from their muse.
Greek mythology claims nine muses are responsible for all creative endeavours of art, music, poetry, and prose. Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania reportedly hold the power to both inspire and/or remove the ability for creative thought. The commonly used writer’s term muse finds its roots in these sisters.
The idea of a muse also stems from a writer’s unique awareness of surroundings beyond what some say is the normal level. Writers absorb information through sight, taste, smell, touch, and hearing like everyone else. At the same time, writers possess strong emotional senses that fuel creative thoughts, which muses can use.
Ask any writer, they will tell you how they catch snippets of conversations while waiting in line or occasional words from a loud person at a dinner or a concert or movie. These tidbits go in one ear, but not out the other. Instead, it’s more like in one ear and then disappear into the black hole of our writer’s brain to form pools of images, ideas, and fragments that the muse brings forth when needed.
Life experiences also arouse a writer’s muse.
I’m an Air Force daughter, Army wife, one time-Department of Army civilian, mother/grandmother, antiques dealer, teacher, mayor’s wife, and occasional church pianist. Every one of those experiences has fuelled my creative fountain. Following my husband’s military and civilian career allowed me to live in lots of places with sights and adventures to file away in my head for use in story settings. My muse has drawn story ideas from every corner of my life.
Strange connections become sources as the muse pulls ideas or experiences from that black hole of knowledge and data inside a writers’ mind. Those creative ideas can percolate for years, months, or pop full blown from a writer’s head.
The latter is what happened with Claiming Annie’s Heart.
On a trip to Ireland with my husband in 2006, I visited an Irish girl’s boarding school in County Connemara (Republic of Ireland). Talking to the girls and walking the grounds, I had one of those writer moments where a character sprang fully formed into my head, commanding me to tell her story. Annie Foster, the heroine of Claiming Annie’s Heart, practically leapt from the pages as I wrote.
Not wanting to violate school policy, I discussed using the setting for the story with the school’s headmistress. Unfortunately, she was not as excited as Annie and I were. She denied our request.
Annie was not happy. Neither was I. And, my writer’s muse went into seclusion.
Like my muse, sometimes writers’ muses desert their writers. So what did I do when my muse went into hiding on Annie’s story?
Rather than forcing my muse to the ground and demanding inspiration, I sought ideas in other ways.
I read, I researched, I travelled, I took walks, I brainstormed with other writers, and I found inspiration to write other books (which interestingly, brought my muse out of hiding until I’d bring up Annie’s story and she’d slither away).
For eight years, my muse and I wrestled with how to tell Annie’s story without a boarding school setting before formulating a plot that blended the story Annie wanted told with a different setting. You can read more details about how the story idea developed here.
Does your writer’s muse ever play hard-to-get? What do you do to coach her out again?
Judythe is giving away a Kindle copy of Claiming Annie’s Heart. Leave a comment below to be included in the drawing. The giveaway closes on 20 December. Winner will be announced here.
Award-winning author Judythe Morgan writes sweet contemporary romances set in overseas places and states where her nomadic life has planted her. Judythe currently lives in south-west Colorado with the Rio Grande National Forest as her backyard. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Judythe browsing antiques shops, reading on the front porch or walking with her real life hero and two four-legged babies, an Old English sheepdog named Toby and a Maltese named Buster.
Claiming Annie’s Heart (excerpt)
Annie Foster glanced toward the flash of light when the door into Murphy’s Pub in Belfast, Northern Ireland, opened and the dark shadow of a man moved to a stool at the bar. She shivered at the rush of cold air from the unusually chilly July night, but her attention remained focused between the dark oak bar and the seisiún table. Seated with the musicians, four-year-old Emma lip-synced along with her. Behind the bar, her fiancé Pearce Murphy pulled the Guinness tap to build a pint.
Her fingers glided over the upright piano keys. Her voice echoed through the still, quiet pub with the final chorus of the ancient ballad, “For she lived to hope and pray, For her love in Botany Bay, It’s so lonely round the fields of Athenry.”
Annie rose slowly. Her body weighted by emotions stirred from the words she sang. She’d been lonely once – waiting, hoping, praying. Not anymore. With a smile at Pearce, she headed to Emma.
She’d only taken two steps when the man who had entered swept her off her feet. She struggled against his arms, pinning her loosely but firmly to a body hard as a slab at Stonehenge. His lips sealed over her startled scream. As the kiss softened, a mist of familiarity fogged her brain.
Before she could sort through the haziness, a familiar Irish brogue called out, “Get your hands off me lass.”
Pearce yanked her from the man’s arms. The unmistakable crack of fist meeting flesh shot through the air, and the stranger tumbled backward, knocking over a chair as he fell. Blood spurted down his chin and splattered onto his shirt.
Pearce reached down to haul the man to his feet for another go. Annie clutched at his forearm. “Pearce, stop it! I’m fine.”
Emma appeared beside her father. Her hazel eyes saucer-like on her pudgy face. She tugged on his other arm. “Da, you broke his nose.”
Pearce twisted from their joint restraint, showing no remorse. “He’s touching you again, I’ll kill him.”
The stranger pulled himself up and swiped at the blood running down his chin. “She’s my fiancée. Annie, it’s me. Tell him.”
The deep baritone voice saying her name carried a familiar cadence. Its resonance danced a jig in her ear, and her heart skipped a beat. Annie swayed. “Chad?”
Pearce reached to steady her, but she braced herself against Chad’s chest.
Chad lifted her hand to his lips, kissing her fingers. “I’d given up on finding you, my Annie.”
“Too late, you are,” Pearce said.
Annie shot her friend Molly a frantic help me glance.
Nodding, Molly linked her arm through Pearce’s. “We’ll be needing you. Liam wants another of your special Murphy’s.”
Pearce jerked from Molly’s grip and motioned the crowd away. “Enough already. Everyone back to your places,” he said and stomped to the bar.
Emma scooted closer, hugging Annie’s waist. Her eyes glistened with tears. Her lips puckered in a pout. “She’s not yours. She’s mine and Da’s.”
Annie slipped her hand from Chad’s, gave Molly a grateful nod, and crouched to hug Emma. “That’s right, sweetie. I’ll always be yours.”
Chad’s gaze flickered from Annie to Emma. “She yours?”
Aware of every eye in the pub watching them, she tipped Emma’s chin upward. “Sweetie, you go help Molly and your Da.”
Emma’s shoulders straightened as though she might protest, then dropped with a weighty sigh. Her posture and stride mimicked her father’s as she walked away.
Annie motioned to Chad. “Come with me. Let’s put some ice on your nose.”
Pearce’s hazel eyes, shadowed by angry disbelief, tracked them as Annie led the way behind the floor-to-ceiling, age-darkened, oak bar. She kept her back stiff, her pace steady down the narrow hallway to an iron spiral staircase and up the steps to her apartment above the bar. Inside, her body shivered, trembled, quaked with questions. How had Chad found her and where had he been?
She took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, opened the door, and pointed to her kitchen table. “Sit down. I’ll get some ice.”
He flinched when she placed an ice-filled washcloth against his nose a few moments later. “Hold it there,” she said.
She sat across from him, analyzing the man, looking for the college student she’d known and loved. The years had left their mark on him. Gone was the sun-lightened, blond hair she had run her fingers through, replaced by a dark, burnished-gold color. A few lines etched across his forehead and around his eyes. A shadow of sadness darkened those clear, sparkling blues that so often plagued her dreams. A faint, narrow, pink scar line extended up his whisker-stubbled cheek. From what, she wondered.
“Chad.” They spoke at once.
“You first,” he said.
Mountains of memories rose in her head. Times spent sharing their deepest wants and desires. Times he’d been her comfort and hope. How she had missed him and longed for him to return for her.
Finally, she’d accepted he was gone. She’d never expected to see him again.