Beware the Muse Killer!

I don’t think writers need to be reminded of our frail egos. The validation of a personal response on a rejection letter, getting an honorable mention in a contest, having our writing group say more positive than negative things are like life support to the tiny muse who so often goes Code Blue on our shoulders.

We know writing is hard. We know that rejection is part of the process. We know that if we think we just wrote the most brilliant scene since Katniss handed Peeta the berries, that tomorrow we might read the same scene and think it could fertilize Iowa. The thing is, no matter how many down moments we have, no many how much self-doubt and how many times we have to perform CPR on that poor little muse, we don’t stop writing. We keep believing in ourselves. And thank goodness we do!

When struggling with an earlier draft of Deadly Design, I sought guidance from a bestselling author I’d met at a few conferences. I asked if, for a fee, he’d be willing to edit the book and tell me what exactly it was missing.

Commas, evidently. I was missing commas, but the remark, one of the few, that really got me, was the scribbled note on page eight. “Your character is unlikable. Who cares what happens to him?”

If my ego had been any thinner, I might have looked down at my poor, pale muse and pulled the plug. I’d have let him die with what little dignity I had left. But I stopped myself. I knew my character. I knew my story and my abilities to write and why exactly should I listen to this man who took my check but didn’t even write in my genre?

I didn’t listen. I got another person, a wonderful, helpful person to give me guidance that led to doing what I wanted to do, what we all want to do  — to make the book better. This led to finding my agent, getting a deal, and the rest, as they say, is history.

We writers may have fragile egos, but we know how hard we work. We know our passions and how much we want to create the best work we can. Don’t ever let anyone tell you to pull the plug. Even if your manuscript isn’t quite there yet, that doesn’t mean it’s terminal! You know your abilities. You know your strengths, your weaknesses.

You know how badly you want it. Take the good advice you receive and use it. Ignore what you can’t use and, just like the old cliche says, have faith in yourself. Don’t let anyone kill your dreams or your muse.

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