Now, I’m no great believer in Calliope.
No, I don’t mean the steam powered musical intrument. I’ve seen some of those, heard their fluty tones, so I know they exist.
I mean Calliope – the Muse – she of Nine Muses fame, that graceful female entity of Greek myth and legend, who Homer (no, not Simpson) called upon for inspiration whilst writing the Iliad and the Odyssey. Originally the Muse of epic poetry, she became the go-to girl for all writers, her remit having changed and expanded over the years.
The Ancient Greeks didn’t write novels, so had no need for a Muse of paperbacks. Though, if we fancy inventing one – you know, amongst ourselves – may I suggest the name Novella. Not a word of Greek origin, but catchy.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, I don’t wait on outside forces to help me write. I also don’t believe in channelling a fey, chiton-draped lovely to help me out when my writing has hit a pit of deep, dark wordlessness. I’m a great believer in having a routine, in treating creativity like a muscle you need to train.
You wouldn’t expect your abs to stay looking like a padded xylophone without a million sit ups, and so it is with your brain. I expect mine to jump to attention and produce short stories, novel chapters or the mind-spew that I post on this blog, whenever I ask it to.
I see it as developing a professional attitude. If I want someone – anyone, please? – in the publishiing business to take my writing seriously then I have to approach writing as if it were a business. Between drinking a lot of tea and being distracted by Twitter, of course.
A couple of days ago, I was re-reading some chapters from my as-yet-unacknowledged (mainly because it’s unpublished) work of YA loveliness.
I was doing this because I’m just taking the first, cautious, squeaky-bum-time steps towards writing a sequel.
Yes, I know. Many of you reading this will be chuntering about the wisdom of planning, plotting, writing a sequel to a book that hasn’t seen the light of day yet. What if a prospective agent/publisher sees and likes the book but thinks it needs the odd tweak to reach perfection …
Well, we sure like the sixteen year old, flame haired, tomboy heroine. But the story would work a whole lot better if she was a fifty six year old former soldier – ex SAS, hard drinking, thrice married Ross Kemp look alike. How do you feel about a rewrite?
But there a few reasons I’m keen to start the sequel.
One: It’ll be good to have a big project to tackle again.
Two: It’ll (maybe) help sell the first book if the second is at least in the planning stages.
Three: I just wanna.
When it came down to putting fingertips to keys, I first wanted to reread some of the orignal book, to get back into the swing of the style, to slip back into that world, shrugging it on like a favourite old jumper I’d left at the bottom of a drawer and just rediscovered. I felt nervous reading it, in case after few months away, it looked amateurish and clunky and just plain drivel.
And do you know what I found?
That much of it was really okay. And even bits – BITS, mind – were actually good. It was almost like reading a proper novel.
The weirdest thing, though was that it feels like someone else wrote it. I don’t remember composing some of the sentences, or where some of the ideas came from. How the hell was that manuscript created without my brain being truly involved with the process on a concious level?
Which got me to thinking.
Firstly: is there something in Rooibos tea other than innocent leaves?
Secondly: maybe there are moments when Calliope has been my friend after all.
Are you a writer who channels Calliope to help you?
Have you written something that later you were surprised you’d written?