On Nurturing Your Muse
Someone recently asked me if writing a novel gets easier after seven books. Well … yes. And no. At the moment, more no than yes, though I hope that changes soon!
The truth about writing is that it’s an art form. Creativity isn’t something you train, it’s something you nurture, and while many of the technical aspects of writing get easier over time, inspiration ebbs and flows. (It’s almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a tide, which I began to use as an analogy before realizing that a tide is far too regular. Inspiration isn’t.)
Here’s the thing: I’m stressed. Some of it is my fault: I’ve written a book a year for six years and convinced myself that this pattern needs to continue even though there is no external reason for this constraint and the only internal reason for it is some misguided definition of “success.” I’m also stressed for external reasons: I’m juggling an editing career, kids, and writing. I’m spending a lot of time on marketing at the moment, a task I am not uniquely suited to. (Hey, let’s just be honest! I can tell a story with great heart but try to sell it and my inner shy girl starts stuttering.)
When I wrote my first book in 2003-2004, the only thing I had to prove to myself was that I could finish it. No one knew me. No one had set any expectations. Now that I’ve written an entire series of books that has won multiple awards and gained a serious following, I find myself wanting to write another book that will appeal to those fans and with every false start I make on a new novel, I worry that it’s not good enough.
Whew! That’s starting to get depressing. Let’s turn this around toward hope, because I do know the solution, even if it’s hard to hear.
Writing is a journey, and as with all journeys, sometimes you need to stop and rest for a while. To look at where you’ve been and decide which road to take next.
But it’s more than that. While you pause, you need to take the time to nurture your muse. Feed it a steady diet of new discoveries – take a class or go on a vacation, study a new subject or read a book. And most of all, muses need to play, because in many ways they’re the part of us that never grows up.
The hardest part for me isn’t doing all that, it’s the next part: There’s not schedule. There’s no deadline. I tend to hyper-fixate on the future and on long-term plans. But the thing about writing that I’ve known for a long time and occasionally have to take a step back to re accept is: I have very little control over whether or not my next book will be a huge success or a big bust. All I can control is now, and whether or not writing is fulfilling a need inside of me or causing me additional stress.
Write because you love it.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Madison’s Song
Author: Christine Amsden
Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance
Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black…
Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison’s nightmares are not.
Despite her fears, when Madison’s brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.
Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton’s home only to discover that he’s vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she’s not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott’s are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.
*Stand-alone companion to the Cassie Scot series
“Silence,” David commanded.
Her throat continued to work, but no sound emerged. She felt like a fish being gutted, choking and spluttering as David returned to the work of cutting into the soft, sensitive flesh of her belly. Yet even as tears refilled her eyes and fear devoured her heart, some part of her recognized that her guts remained intact. Whatever David was doing to her with the dagger involved tracing shallow patterns across the surface of her skin.
Fight the pain. Take deep breaths. Ground and center. She was not in the empty living room of a house she had not quite moved into yet, she was at church, singing in the choir. Above her, Jesus hung from a cross, a crown of thorns atop his head, a soft glow surrounding him. She usually found the magic within that glow. She reached for it…
“Stop that!” David slapped her hard across the face.
Once again her eyes flew open. She saw the dagger dripping with blood – her blood. Had her feeble grab for magic actually made a difference? David seemed to have noticed something, but what?
“You’re just making this harder on yourself,” David said.
“What do you want?” Madison tried to ask. Her mouth moved, her lips forming the question, but no sound emerged.
She didn’t think he would answer; he couldn’t even have heard the question, but to her surprise he only hesitated a moment before saying, “Your soul.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.