Tag Archive | muse

Do You Have a Muse for your Main Hero? How Pinterest can help!

Kelsey Porter

Kelsey Porter

If you’ve written a book, do you have a muse for your main hero? Someone you picture in your mind and they are the vision that pops up every time you write about what your character is doing? I do. I am a visual person and love to “assign” people to my characters. The only problem with doing that is over time, those characters age and if you have publicly posted a celebrity, well, time does go on and they may not always look like the person you envisioned. Still, it helps to have someone concrete in your head so you always stay consistent with the character.

I created a Pinterest page, by book, to capture my characters and various topics in the novels. In The Hunt for Xanadu, I found my muse for Kelsey Porter. It is of a young Serinda Swan (though the photo above is actually Jessica Lowndes, who could be Serinda’s sister, so since it LOOKS like her and the image is so sexy and beautiful, this photo worked). For most other scenarios, Serinda is my “it girl” with her combination of tough/sexy girl, and she is how I imagine Kelsey appears. Only problem with showing a photo is that she may not be what other readers feel my character looks like. When you publicly put your vision out there, it might not jive with other people’s interpretations. Which is probably why people get so upset when casting directors cast characters readers don’t feel “fit the bill.” (I have a YA Series called FLYING TO THE LIGHT and FLYING TO THE FIRE and I showed my daughter my vision of the main character and she BALKED. I thought this boy was adorable and she said that is completely not how she envisioned him. Hmmm… he’s nearly a straight out description from the book, so not sure of the confusion)

On my pinterest pages, I found all the characters for my novels and some are actors and some are models. I’ve been able to locate various pictures of all of them and have been able to use their photos across three different pinterest boards so there is complete consistence.

Here is the Pinterest board for THE HUNT FOR XANADU. Click Here:

This board is so helpful, because in this book I reference many buddhist themes, various ceremonies and some of my own experiences with the foods I discuss in the book. I have a girlfriend who realized I never had butter tea and took me to a great Tibetan Restaurant in Queens and we tried it. I explain my experience here: (now you get to see and hear me in action!) For those who have read book #2 in the series, THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB, I have a pinterest board here too!

So, do you have a muse? Or do you simply keep an image of the characters in your head? Love to hear.

Muses… Are They Real? I Believe They Are.

museI’ve heard many discussions on the topics of muses. Are they real? What do they really mean? I ask you this. Have you ever uttered the words, “I can’t write right now. My muse isn’t speaking to me.” Well, I have. In fact, it happens to me a lot. The question begs, is it true, has my muse deserted me, or am I just too pre-occupied with other things to do the task at hand?

I have a very dear editor friend who told me that “muses are a load of $%^&!” That if you want to write, you just sit down and do it. That it has nothing to do with a muse and it’s all about you. That if you’re committed and want to produce, you need to suck it up and just write. I’ve kindly listened to this, but I have a different interpretation. Yes, I can sit down and just write, but will they be good words? Or just words? I truly believe that there’s this part of me, some inner essence that comes out when it’s feeling more creative than other times. I call it my muse, though in reality, it may very well just be my mood. Perhaps, and most likely, they are one and the same. You see, there are moments when I simply have no ideas in my head. Nothing compels me to write, to draw, to cook, or to create. Usually at those times I’m too tired, too busy, or too overwhelmed with life and I can’t string two words together that I’d ask someone to purchase. But, out of the blue, there are other times, and incredible moments, when I feel like I have this superpower and I get this great idea and get “in the zone” and can write for hours.

My most recent, my lovely Aunt...

My most recent, my lovely Aunt…

It’s in these weird little bursts of internal creativity that make me believe I have a muse. For instance, I’ve never really drawn or been an artist, but for some reason I took up sketching a month ago and I feel like my little artistic muse has jumped out. I can’t honestly say I’m an artist. I can’t just sit and draw a person, or a scene, or sometimes even stick figures in a straight line. Even now, each time I pick up that sketching pencil, I don’t have that confidence that something brilliant will be produced (or forget about being brilliant, how about legible?). So I stare at my sketch pad until I feel the urge. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t, but when I feel that internal pull, I can’t do anything but try to answer it and in those moments, I do feel like I’ve been given a gift and my “muse” is talking to me. With her, I can do something I normally can’t seem to do on a daily basis.

I feel like a muse is a part of our personality. The part that is creative and reflective. I believe they’re real and if they’re ignoring you, maybe you need to take a break from whatever you’re forcing yourself to do. Maybe it’s the universe’s way of saying “come on, just give yourself a moment to not try to be brilliant all the time.” Step back and let it rest. Let things stew, because I believe those ideas and gifts will come to us when we’re ready to accept them. And that’s when our muse will set us free.

The Creation Process – How does your muse like to work?

writingI am the type of author who craves utter silence when I write. That includes interruptions at any time, including quietly slinking into the room to simply “get something” even though no one actually speaks to me. I find that just as distracting as if I’d stopped to have a conversation. I’ve tried to explain that “when a writer is on a roll and stops writing for any reason that means THAT particular train of thought is GONE forever.” Yes, I know we can start again, but it will never be what it was and that makes me a little crazy. The frustrating part is, the people around me really and truly don’t understand this and they think I’m being unreasonable.

Ideally, I like to sit on my bed with my laptop on my lap, fan or A/C going and just have a block of an hour to let the words come. There are days I need more time. Much more time, but I have kids, a life, a husband, a job, and those get in the way. Other days I get a little stuck or bored and just have to take a break, but I like the control of my own muse, without interruptions. I’ve tried going to a coffee shop or the library, but those little whispered conversations around me, crinkling of a candy wrapper, the tinny sound of someone’s music leaking from their ear buds – they bother me. I must have some sort of sensory issue. In school during testing “I” was the one “shushing” the teachers who were quietly chatting at the front of the room. Come on! We’re working here!

I wondered if I was alone in how we create, so I asked two writers, Mitchel Whitington and Gwen Choate this very question. I also wanted to find out their most gratifying moments. Writing takes so much time out of our lives, there has to be something gratifying in it for all of us, right?

Question #1) What is your writing set-up and what do you need to write?

Mitchel Whitington: It all depends on my mood. If I’m really in the zone, I like it quiet and dark. My office has black-out curtains to help me create this environment. There are other times when I put on instrumental music (one of my favorites is Cirque du Soleil’s soundtrack “Mystere”) and light incense. Darkness is still important, though.

Gwen Choate: I prefer to work at my computer, which sits in the corner of a small room, surrounded by my dictionary and thesaurus, research material, and the copy in progress. I have a laptop, but I get a backache trying to position myself when I use it very long at a time. I, too, like solitude.

Question #2) Can you share some gratifying moments?

Mitchel: My biggest one came from a book that I wrote a long time ago. It was humor fiction, and I had a lot of fun with it. At a book signing, a lady asked me to sign her dad’s book. He had just died, and his sunday school class had purchased it for him to read in the hospital. The lady told me that he’d read it and laughed throughout, even toward the end when she was having to hold the book for him and turn the pages, because her dad was too weak to do it himself. There were tears in her eyes when she told me that my book was the last thing that her dad laughed at in his life. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of that.

Gwen: There are so many. When I sold BUFFALO GOLD, the Abilene Reporter-News did a two-page spread about how I, as a woman, broke the taboo against female authors of westerns. SACK has had wonderful publicity in the Nacogdoches newspaper, and I was given a book signing which was attended by sixty-five people and generously covered by publicity. Then more recently I was privileged to join a friend at a Kroger’s Supermarket and sell copies of THE SACK, which were charged to the customers’ Kroger cards . . . followed by the wonderful KTRE-TV interview.

So there you have it. I personally know people who can exercise and write at the same time on some contraption they set up on their treadmill (I can’t drink and walk at the same time, so I’m continually stumped how they do this). I know others who prefer blaring music, but most seem to love the solitude that allows their muse to truly come forward.

And then there are the gratifying moments we all love. For me, the most gratifying moment came when I had a library chat. A sixteen year old boy came with his dad, armed with three pages of questions. He stayed until the end of my talk, waited to speak to me, told me how much he loved my book, asked me to sign it and then asked if he could ask me some questions. You see, he wanted to become a writer and wanted to get “a real writer’s” perspective on some things. A real writer? Me?! Wow. For me, that was my first time hearing from someone I didn’t know how they felt about the book, validating my hard work and wanting MY advice. It felt great.

To find out more about the authors above, they can be reached here:

Gwen Choate’s YA novel, THE SACK, was nominated by Texas Librarians for the Star of Texas Award as a best Middle School book. It is available on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sack-ebook/dp/B00CD5VBTO/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1371494846&sr=8-1&keywords=the+sack+gwen+choate She can also be reached on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gwenchoate

Mitchel Whitington is an author and speaker from the piney woods of East Texas. Over a dozen of his books have been published over the last decade, and he has contributed to as many anthologies. You’ll find Mitchel speaking around the country at workshops and conferences. Mitchel lives in a historic 1861 home in Jefferson, Texas, where he lives with his wife Tami, two basset hounds, and several resident spirits. You can contact him at: mitchel@whitington.com.