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On my Cloud-Colored Steed

November 25, 2013

Image courtesy of Feng Yu @ StockFresh.comAs I close in on the finish line of NaNoWriMo and look back on what I’ve written, I sometimes wonder if I should have attempted another fifty thousand word foray into literary abandon this year. It was kind of a hasty decision and went something like this:

It’s late at night on October 31 and I lie in bed, contemplating my nascent NaNo novel, wondering if I should even try, when I hear a tap on my front door.

The world is asleep and it’s too late for trick or treaters, I think as I check the clock and see that it’s midnight. Nonetheless, I creep to the entryway to check the peephole, curious who it might be.

The Muse grins back at me.

“You?!” I exclaim and hurry to unlatch the chain and open the deadbolt.

Image courtesy of Vasyl Torous @ StockFresh“You summoned me?” He smiles as I look him over. He’s donned a long black cape to ward off the rain and wind, and the hood is thrown back to display a jaunty cap sporting the biggest black plume I’ve ever seen. Though his wings drag on the sidewalk behind him, I doubt even they could have produced such a massive feather.

“I did ask you to visit, but … we’re sleeping,” I stammer weakly.

“It’s midnight isn’t it? Time to start writing our November novel?”

“But I have nothing but a vague idea of what to write. Just a story sentence, twenty-six character names and a broken protagonist.”

“Come outside,” he beckons, extending his gloved hand. “I have something to show you.”

I wrap my bathrobe more tightly around my waist and step out on the front porch. The cement is cold on my bare feet but at least I’m not ruining my socks. I follow him out to the leaf-scattered front yard. 

Standing between the Miss Kim lilacs and the withered forsythias are two horses, their breath steaming in the chilly night air. One is black and gleaming under the streetlights, the other shimmering white. In one easy motion, his wings making a short sweep behind him, the Muse mounts the black stallion. “Coming?” he asks, unable to hide the mischievous grin that plays over his somber features.

The white horse whinnies impatiently and lifts a foreleg to scrape it over my front lawn. 

“But I don’t know how to ride a horse. Heck …” I measure the height of the saddle and calculate how awkward I would look sprawled across the grass in my pajamas if I screw this up. “I can’t even get up into the saddle.”

His laugh echoes in the evening wind and he raises his hand to conjure up a chair high enough to help me to clamber onto my cloud-colored steed. “How’s that?” he asks.

I blink and hesitate. Really? Do I want to do this? I don’t have scene cards; I’ve barely gotten to know my characters, and I have about a million other things I need to do this month.

I know how much you love to write,” the Muse whispers. “Do it. For fun. For me.”

I step on the chair and swing my leg over the saddle. “Okey dokey. For you and for fun …”

Side by side we amble down my quiet street and into our adventure.tesy of 'sqback' @ Big Stock

Despite the questionable quality of what I’ve accomplished this month, I’m still glad I took the leap.

Have you ever done something crazy with your writing? Were you glad you did?

Images courtesy of Feng Yu  and Vasyl Torous @ and ‘sqback’ @ Big Stock
  1. November 25, 2013 11:13 pm

    Check out that word count! You are amazing. I have spent a lot of time this month thinking about whether it was the right choice to do NaNoWriMo this year, and whether I will be doing it next year. I am not sure it is still a useful tool for me. Then I look at what I’ve written, which felt like pulling teeth but reads pretty well, and I think maybe NaNo is my perfect tool. Who knows?

    • November 29, 2013 11:24 am

      I go back and forth on the same question. Usually when I’m in the midst of the words I’m certain they are terrible, but afterwards when they’ve had a chance to cool, I can see that things aren’t as bad as they seemed.
      Although it’s been fun to write without much of a plan this year, I really don’t think I want to ‘pants’ another NaNo!

  2. November 26, 2013 12:32 am

    If your NaNo story is half as evocative as this post I’m sure it was worth the effort! 🙂

    • November 29, 2013 11:26 am

      Thanks Amanda 🙂
      The NaNo story is a bit messy, but I’m pretty sure there are going to be some moments! So it is worth it to me.

  3. November 26, 2013 7:08 am

    Agree with Amanda! I bet you won’t regret it.

    • November 29, 2013 11:28 am

      Thank you, Alex!
      Heeding my Muse usually pays off, sometimes just not in the ways that I expect. 🙂

  4. November 26, 2013 7:28 am

    Go, go, go! You can do it!!! 😀
    I love your muse. Can I borrow him sometime? 😛

    • November 29, 2013 11:31 am

      Of course you can!
      Although I should warn you, he can be a slave driver when he’s in the mood to get some writing done.

  5. November 26, 2013 11:24 am

    Ah! I love it. Who wouldn’t follow that devilishly tempting muse out into the night? Heck, where’s my dream horse? I’m coming too!

    • November 29, 2013 11:33 am

      Hi Crystal 🙂
      Welcome to A Scenic Route!
      It seems there is no end to the ways my Muse drags me into story land. This one was particularly fun though. 🙂

  6. November 26, 2013 2:14 pm

    Loved this! So inspiring!

    Every year since I first heard of NaNo, I’ve wanted to try it–and every year, again I’m sorry the Powers that Be chose November to do it. Why November? Couldn’t it have been NaJun? Or NaJul? November, already one of the busiest, most insane months of my school year, is crammed with holiday preparations to boot. It’s just never been an option for me. But maybe next year . . . . (That’s what I always say.)

    Or maybe even next month. Why not? I’ve always been a rebel. NaJan, here I come!

    (I wish my muse would show up with horses! I love the image of you riding off together!)

    • November 29, 2013 11:38 am

      I love the idea of NaJan! The new year seems like a great place to start with a new novel, and I’ve wondered about the choice of November myself. However, now that I’ve been doing it a few years, it’s almost become part of the seasons for me, as in: “Oh, it’s November. It must be time to write another novel!”
      As far as the Muse and his horses image, I didn’t figure out exactly why my horse is white and the Muse’s black until I was editing this post–and there is a reason. 🙂

  7. November 26, 2013 7:54 pm

    I’m in love with your muse! I started out strong this month, but then died. Only managed 30,000 words. But hey, that’s 30,000 more words I wouldn’t have pushed myself to write this month without the challenge 🙂

    • November 29, 2013 11:41 am

      30,000 words is an awesome amount of writing! That’s one thing I think the NaNo folks need to make clearer–anyone who starts writing and ends up with a lot more words than they would have otherwise is clearly a winner.
      So congratulations!

  8. November 27, 2013 10:10 am

    Congrats on awesome NaNo-ing! In answer to your question, the craziest thing I do with my writing is write! Every time I sit at the keyboard, I ask myself “Are you crazy? Can you prod these characters to take risks, be fearless and forge ahead leaving you, the writer, panting to keep up? And, can you do this without forcing them into your pre-conceived outline?”

    I’m glad I’m giving them a bit of self-determination. It makes my surly muse happy, and that’s half the battle.

    Love seeing your muse again, btw:)

    • November 29, 2013 11:45 am

      I agree. Writing stories can feel like such a leap of faith, especially when it’s time to set the characters free to find their own solutions. I think it takes a ton of courage to be a writer!

      And my Muse is pacing my pages a lot lately, but I always worry that giving him too much screen time on my blog might peg me as a little nuts!

      • November 29, 2013 1:22 pm

        Nuts? Not hardly. I love hearing about your muse. He’s part of your creative process – and the fact that he’s very cool doesn’t hurt:)

        • November 30, 2013 8:10 pm

          I guess as writers we have to get used to imaginary people lurking on our pages! So, nuts it is, in a good way. 🙂
          Don’t worry, my Muse will stay pretty much a regular feature around here.

  9. November 30, 2013 9:31 am

    As always Kirsten your imagery is so real that I was following you on a third horse. Most of my writing is like this – a battle against my internal naysayers and a pounding heart as I start typing. But at the end of the day I come away feeling overjoyed with what I have done.

    Thanks for the short story 😉 You could probably turn this into a full-fledged novel (this is what normally gets me in trouble as everything short I start to write I see how it could be made into a novel)

    • November 30, 2013 8:13 pm

      Hi Peter,
      I kind of thought this might stand in for a short story, even though my conflict is probably a bit weak. I’m glad you liked it!
      But I know how you feel about the scary part of writing. This has subsided somewhat as I’ve learned a few tricks, but it’s still there every time I take on a new challenge.

  10. December 2, 2013 5:52 pm

    It seems like I do most of my writing with only a vague idea of what I want the project to look like. I mostly do what I call “discovery writing,” where I’ll think, “Okay, I have a sketchy idea for a scene where a character wants something, and there’s an obstacle in his or her way. What might that look like?” Then I write it and see what happens.

    I probably end up with a lot of junk in my scenes, but I find it shakes loose ideas for more scenes, plus I get ideas for how to change the scenes I’ve already experimented with. I’ve ended up with material I pasted into the first draft of my novel. I’ve also ended up with workable first drafts for several stories by playing the “What might that look like?” game.

    It’s probably too early to tell if this really works for me or not. I bet I’ll have a better idea after I get some revisions under my belt.

    • December 2, 2013 6:36 pm

      Hi Mike 🙂
      Yeah, there are times when I get done with a scene and think, well whatever the finished story ends up being like, it won’t be what I just wrote. Kinda like that nineties beer commercial, where the old lady says, “Not!”
      But I’m finding that I’m a huge fan of discovery writing as well, and as I work through my revisions, I become less and less worried about taking wrong turns in the story. A nice sized pile of words usually does end up revealing what I wanted to say once I get my revision toolbox out. 🙂

      • December 2, 2013 6:49 pm

        I also find that thinking of it as “discovery writing” helps take the pressure off me to produce something “good” during the first draft of a scene. My inner critic has no right to complain if I’m just trying stuff out 🙂

        • December 5, 2013 6:53 am

          Absolutely. I’ve even gone so far as to insert snarky comments by the Inner Critic into the prose, just to prove that I really am going to edit the heck out of this in the rewrite. (And usually when I go back later to read over what I’ve written, it’s never as bad as the Inner Critic claimed it was. 🙂 )

  11. December 3, 2013 7:30 pm

    Your muse is so awesome. I love it when he shows up in your posts. I am just starting to read through my nano novel and it’s so/so, but there are some bits where I am actually surprised at my writing in a good way. I think it’s worth it to do Nanowrimo no matter what. For your Muse and for fun.

    • December 5, 2013 6:55 am

      I love reading over what I’ve written in the frenzy of NaNo for exactly that reason. There are always gems in there that I don’t even remember having written! I think that’s why the Muse loves it so much. ‘He’ can really let it all hang out and we can play to my heart’s content.

  12. August 15, 2014 10:29 pm

    This is just as good as the others about your muse. You are such a colorful writer and “descriptor”.. I absolutely love the way your words flow and you use them to paint your prose.

    • August 17, 2014 8:06 pm

      🙂 Thank you so much! I have to rein those descriptions in for my stories, but for the blog all bets are off!

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