Anyone who writes has a muse. If you are focused, it might be just a single heavenly ideal. For me, it could be the sun casting across a woman’s beautiful face, the blowing heat coming off an urban pavement or clouds chasing across the Florida sky. Inspiring muses are a dime a dozen.
It’s the postfix muses that are harder to find.
Once you publish, you are going to find yourself facing hardships you never imagined. Turns out that writing a consistent, entertaining, and marketable story over 500 pages is easy compared to selling it, accepting criticism, and getting screwed out of every possible dime by everyone in the publishing field (hey, Createspace, after taking the lion’s share of my profits, explain that $8 check processing fee deducted from my meager royalties). This blog will explore many of these depressing topics across future Thursdays.
So you’ll need something to keep you going after you’re in print, something that lets you write again after all that money and pride you’re going to lose. You’ll need a postfix muse.
Here are two of mine:
I was in Atlanta for a model train operations events (if you don’t know what operations are, check out my train blog “At the throttle”). Anyway, I’d run a session as dispatcher on a layout and had knocked it out of the park. Kept the traffic moving, nice and steady. Saw the problems forming and worked around them. At the end of the night, the owner told me he’d never seen it operate that well, not with his old crew, so I was in a good mood.
Caught a lift back to the hotel with a couple of guys (you catch rides however you can). They were in the front, I was alone in the back. The driver asked me if I was a dispatcher in real life. I smiled and said, “No, just an administrator. And also a writer.” At the question about what I’d written, I noted Fire and Bronze, my Carthage-foundation book. At this, the other guy turned around, face wide with wonder. “The one about Elisha? The one about Carthage? I READ that! It was really, really good!”
F&B had penetrated bookstores but I’d never gotten any sales figures (or, alas, royalties). I still have no idea how well it had done. But I’d never bumped into a reader I didn’t already know. What an experience. The driver, listening to us chat about the story, told me he was going to get a copy – he was intrigued. And my reader? He asked if I’d be back in Atlanta for the next DixieRails so he could get a signature. And that was something. Reader feedback, blind and un-mined, brings a heady rush.
The second one came for Early ReTyrement just recently. Was having an early morning chat with our admin secretary over coffee in her office, just joking about this and that. I like her – she’s a fireball who makes the world a better place just by being in it. Anyway, it was just chitty-chat-chat when suddenly she brightens up and says, “Oh, I’m at the horse race to Damascus part. I’m really enjoying it!”
I was pretty suave, meaning I didn’t spill coffee down my front. “You’re reading my book?”
She was. She’d ordered it the very day it had come out on the nook. I was flattered by this – one thing I’ve learned is to never, never, ever ask if someone is reading your book. But she was, and she was enjoying it.
And so now I’m writing more and more…