My Muse is Heading For Palm Springs For The Winter

We all have those days when you stare at the computer screen for hours and anything you try to type looks like Old High Marsian.

My muse is on walkabout.

Mental exhaustion I tell myself when this happens.

Too many things to do so I can’t think. Yeah, I haven’t cleaned the oven since the last time I did this. Like yesterday.

I haven’t been lectured by my college roommate that trying to write fiction is useless and degrading. Unless it’s literary fiction.

I start throwing things like teddy bears and boxes of facial tissues, tears streaking my face. I am only allowed to throw things that are unbreakable. And I’m not allowed to cry except when I’m writing the final scenes of a book.

My muse has gone walkabout.

Maybe I need a nap.

“You need to get out of the house!” my dearly beloved exclaims as he begins the process of surgically removing me from the computer. Within minutes he hustles me into the car and we head east toward wilderness.

Eight hours, three hundred twenty-five miles, and three hundred eighty-five dollars’ worth of collectible beer steins later we are within ten miles of home, on Highway 26 coming off of Mt Hood and I’m watching the mist rise up out of the valley below Laurel Hill (the last major obstacle on the old Oregon Trail, that is symbolic) and I wonder what kinds of monsters might hide in that mist…

And it hits me. Eighty pages into an eight hundred page manuscript, my heroine should not be manipulating my villain. He’s not worthy of her.

This was Guardian of the Trust, Merlin’s Descendants #2 where a descendant of Merlin must make certain that King John signs the Magna Carta. An aging and almost respectable Robin Hood shows up later in the book. In every book and movie I know of, King John is always the villain.

Unfortunately I’d done my research. While not the best king, John was an educated and efficient governor. He had his shortcomings to be sure. His biggest problem was that he stayed in England and didn’t allow his barons to engage in endless civil war, grabbing land by might rather than right of law.

I couldn’t cast him as the malicious and murderous villain I needed.

By the time we drove those final ten miles home I had found a suitably shadowy villain who manipulated King John but couldn’t be found or manipulated by my heroine until almost the end of the book.

The next seven-hundred twenty pages nearly wrote themselves.

So, sometimes the muse as well as the author needs a day wandering new territory with no computer in sight and no cellphone or internet signal.


About Phyllis Irene Radford

Irene Radford has been writing stories ever since she figured out what a pencil was for. A member of an endangered species—a native Oregonian who lives in Oregon—she and her husband make their home in Welches, Oregon where deer, bears, coyotes, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers feed regularly on their back deck. A museum trained historian, Irene has spent many hours prowling pioneer cemeteries deepening her connections to the past. Raised in a military family she grew up all over the US and learned early on that books are friends that don’t get left behind with a move. Her interests and reading range from ancient history, to spiritual meditations, to space stations, and a whole lot in between. Mostly Irene writes fantasy and historical fantasy including the best-selling Dragon Nimbus Series and the masterwork Merlin’s Descendants series. In other lifetimes she writes urban fantasy as P.R. Frost or Phyllis Ames, and space opera as C.F. Bentley. Later this year she ventures into Steampunk as someone else. If you wish information on the latest releases from Ms Radford, under any of her pen names, you can subscribe to her newsletter: Promises of no spam, merely occasional updates and news of personal appearances.


My Muse is Heading For Palm Springs For The Winter — 4 Comments

  1. maybe I should take a trip right now. my current WIP is in a stalled place and I can’t QUITE seem to kick it off its ass and moving forward. I think my muse has got a time-share at that place where yours went for the sabbatical…

  2. It’s the motion. Moving about jostles about all the thoughts in your head so they sometimes fall over and arrange themselves into new configurations. Sometimes even walking about the house can do it.

    Sometimes, of course, turning off the computer.

  3. I’m doing my own mini marathon writing challenge this month rather than NaNoWriMo.
    1000 words a day. I’d slacked off and fallen down on my writing and mental skills. I started 10/31/21 with 14979 words on a book I’d been putting off finishing for 2 years.

    As of yesterday 11/22/21 I have racked up 38088 words.

    I may not make my goal of 45K by the end of the month–serious family issues this weekend– but I’m glad I tried and stretched my writing muscles.

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