I finally did sit down with my old novel and start revising. My first thought was, UK! This is horrible! Okay, I'm sure it's not horrible, but have you ever pulled out something you've written a few years ago and looked at it, keeping in mind what you know about writing now? Some of it is good, but there's quite a lot that needs work. ALOT of work. And my muse... she's enjoying this. She reads over my shoulder and giggles now and then.
"Go away, you're not helping," I say.
"I'm not here to help."
"Then what exactly are you doing?"
"Watching you try to create something good out of this crap."
I slam the lid of my lap-top closed and glare at her. "This was your idea, remember."
"I know. But when I suggested it I had no idea how bad your book actually is."
I lay my head on my computer. "Please go away. I don't need this. I really don't."
She flops onto my bed and starts picking at the edge of one of her finger-nails. "I mean, you told me you wrote a book so I assumed it was worth the effort, but what you've been working on is not what I'd call a book."
My face is still pressed against the plastic cover of my lap-top. "What is it then?"
"A futile whine for attention. I mean, what's the point? Why bother? Is it just a way for you to vent about the fact Paul died, or is this really ABOUT something?"
"It's about the power of friendship over death."
"Whatever that's supposed to mean."
I lift my head and look at her. "I know it needs work, but I think it's good stuff and with more polish I can really turn this into something beautiful. So please give me a little peace and quiet to do that, okay?"
She glances up at me as she bites her nail. "Sure, sure. Get back to work. I don't know why you're even arguing with me about it." She spits a piece of the nail she bit off. "Just pretend I'm not here, because I'm sure you know EXACTLY what you're doing."
I know what she wants. "What do you suggest I do?"
"Keep writing. Don't worry about me." She chews another nail.
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. "No really. I'd like to know what you think."
"Well, for one, make sure there are enough scenes to SHOW what's happening because no one wants to read your long, boring, exposition. In fact, you should mark each one, and then look for places where you can create even more." She sits up and leans toward me.
"Show don't tell. Basic. What else."
"Don't get snippy. You asked for my help."
"Sorry. Please continue." I open my lap-top to show her I'm interested.
She stands. "More sensory detail. Your writing often lacks that. Make sure the time and place are really vivid. Oh, and keep it focused on your relationship with Paul and less on what happened after his death. If it isn't directly related to the friendship, cut it."
My muse keeps rambling and I study the manuscript as she talks, showing her I appreciate her help. I do, it's just sometimes the WAY she helps is a bit rough. She's very good at pointing out what's awful, and barely mentions what works. Sometimes I really wish I had one of those nice muses; the kind who applaud and bring you chocolate every time you write a good sentence. Mine hits me with books when I write a poor sentence.
I'll keep working on this manuscript, and hopefully it will become something really good. All I can do is try. Maybe that's the secret to being a writer. No matter what your muse says, you just have to keep trying.