Feeding the Muse: Roses, Armadillos & Publishing

dog with a pencil. isolated on white backgroundHow do you feed your muse? I’ve been head-down busy these days playing catch up on all the writer-icity that had been put on a back burner for far too long. My muse is hungry, screaming for attention, like an itch in that impossible-to-reach spot in the middle of your back. Once you finally start scratching it feels soooooooooo good you don’t want to ever stop.

I’m bad at promising to scratch the itch “as soon as…” (fill in the blank) which is why I’m so far behind. The truth is, the muse doesn’t care that we’re busy with real life, or that we only have 10 minutes to spare. The muse just acts hungrier and more demanding the longer we ignore her whispers, cries, screams for attention.

Sort of like a cat.

Cat, pen and blank open notepadA muse doesn’t care if we scribble on napkins, type with a keyboard, twitter or fritter our litter-ary time with print or Ebooks. She wakes us at 3 a.m. and demands to be fed, she sinks dagger claws into our heart and soul. The muse pushes that soggy nasty ball into our lap, urging us to throw-throw-throw with all our might, promising how good it will feel and to return that ball to our willing hand time after time after time.

She won’t relent until we give in to the urge. The urge to write. To create.

Some of y’all know that we have had as many as 700 rose bushes surrounding our home. Over the years, the roses have been attacked by grasshoppers, leaving nothing but Addams Family stems; bulldozed by armadillos so tender roots fried in Texas sun; and over-pruned, which killed or crippled the plant. We lost roses that had spectacular flowers and amazing pedigrees. Mostly we lost the hybrids, high maintenance specimens that were less able to tolerate the insults, and demanded more attention and care to produce blooms.

But the grasshopper-eaten roses with viable roots produced fresh, healthier growth. Even ‘dillo-dozed roses survived—with scars, to be sure, but still produced stellar blooms. Stay with me, folks, there’s a rose-thorn-sharp point to be made . . .

As an over-zealous pruner, I’ve learned to restrain my instincts and appreciate the thorny, hardened portions of established bushes. This was a hard lesson to learn. See, if they’re cut out completely, there’s no scaffolding to support fresh growth, and the blooms fall in the dirt and are trampled–and the whole bush becomes mulch.

After more than two decades of writing, I’m a prickly, hardened bitch-of-a-pet writer. I do not flinch at the “B” word, it’s a badge of honor in my world. I know when to show my teeth, and choose my battles wisely. So I have less patience for high-maintenance writers or circle-the-wagons “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” attitudes than in my youth. WARNING: Those grasshoppers are voracious and if your roots ain’t healthy, you’re toast.

Don’t let that fact scare you. I can say that now–you can’t seen the head-shaped dent in my office wall from having the pee scared outta me mild concern. Writing is writing, and readers are readers. Publishing has a healthy root system, and will survive armadillos, grasshoppers–and Ebooks, Audio-books, iPads, and whatever-comes-next-pads. It just needs to cut back on the fertilizer and prune judiciously.

Meanwhile, writers—and readers—support each other. Love a book or a writer—say so far and wide! Know a writer struggling with the effort of reinventing themselves? Shine a little color in that corner. That’s what sustains us through the dry spells, the never-ending deadlines, and rejections that nibble us raw. Mentoring each other keeps us sane–that’s the thorny protection that allows us to create our visions and bloom in our proper season.

I want to give a shout out to my colleague Deborah Barnes and her newest book Purr Prints of the Heart: A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death & Beyond. Take a look and see how her Muse inspired her.

Now then, listen–shhhhhh! Listen! Can you hear that?–put your hand over your heart, and you can almost feel the rumble!? No, it’s not the printer whirring…well, maybe it is. But listen closer—and you’ll hear symphony of blissful purrs, and the whist-whist-whist of happy wags–the sound of confident, tenacious, and oh-so-proud garden full of Muses.

Or maybe that’s tummies growling…So all you Creatives out there, the writers, the story tellers, the painters, the poets, the singers and musicians, and and and … Go feed your muse!

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Feeding the Muse: Roses, Armadillos & Publishing — 4 Comments

  1. I love reading your blogs and maybe it’s the tiny egotist in me that after reading this blog, feels that in some way it was directed at me. I can now proudly hold my head up and shout from the roof tops yes I too am a published author! I am squeeing in delight when I see that another book has sold. The feeling can’t be described, it has to be felt in all it’s glory! I now understand what keeps you going. It is amazing.

    AMY’S EDIT: Check out Sue’s debut book, RED HAWK here: http://www.amazon.com/RedHawk-Raptor-Chronicles-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00VZB2UKQ/

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