Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Musings on muses...

Being sick this week, my brain has been slightly idea-devoid (I sit down at my keyboard and all I can think of is "myheadhurtsmyheadhurtsmyheadhurts...IwannathrowupIwannathrowup... makes it hard to come up with riveting story ideas).

Tuesday morning I got to school, late, and feeling sick. I'm sure you can imagine my joy when I realized this is American Education Week, and Tuesday was the day parents were invited to our grade level's classes to "Spread the News" (read the newspaper with their kids). Whopee! Yea, that was me being uber-excited. My day started splendidly, as you can see.

However... when I went to the office later that morning (after the parents had left, to get some headache medicine), I saw one of our lovelies sitting in the principal's office with his arm in a sling. Slowly, my achy brain started piecing a story together... one of my students telling me the principal had asked him to go see her that morning because he had witnessed "something" that had happened the day before after school... my kids talking about someone breaking someone else's arm (which I really REALLY wanted to ask them about, but being the teacher I can't engage in or even allow that kind of gossip - I couldn't even eavesdrop...)

Guess what happened to my character that morning, when the class sat down to NaNoWrite? He shows up at the bus stop with his arm in a sling. He'd gone to detention the afternoon before (sohe'd missed the bus home, causing my main character some distress because she didn't get to see her crush after school), and now I knew why he'd gone to detention. I also must admit three students of mine have made it into the story so far. I don't know if they could recognize themselves (I hope not, I don't want to have to pay for likeness rights) but they're there...

When I moved from teaching high school to teaching third grade I thought about the loss of material I was going to suffer - my main genre being young adult - but now that I'm in sixth grade, even though I'm still at an elementary campus, I feel like I'm back in the game. My surrent position has helped me a lot with this novel so far - I'm following my MC from her parents' divorce in early elementary school through college (or post college, we'll see how our word count goes); I've written her in fourth grade and now she's in seventh, so I'm drawing on my kids a lot to imagine the dialogue, diction, etc.

As I reflected on how much of my job seeps into my writing, I thought about my muse (creatures which, ironically, we studied recently when we read The Illiad). Do I have one? Is she female, like the original muses were? Or have muses become more PC since the times of Homer - we have male and female writers now, so do we have male and female muses? Or are they still female, because girls are more creative (or something)? I think I should have a muse icon of some sort... some symbol for my muse. (Then again, that might enter sacrilegious territory, so manybe not...)

If I have a muse, I think I'd have to file a complaint. I don' think my muse, if I have one, has done much for me. My characters are my muses - they take the story and flip it upside down, making me write the weirdest stuff sometimes. I'm not an outliner, I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pantser, and my characters have been known to do some wacky stuff. Sometimes I plan otu what's going to happen - broad strokes, general gameplan - but then I sit down to write and stuff starts happening that I never planned for or thought of... like Mike. Today, he wrote himself a crush on Jenn, my MC. Who knew?!

But I'm going with it. I like it. Because Debs decided to have a crush on Mike too, and that could be ugly for all three of them. (Don't worry, it's not going to be Senior Year all over again - wow, but that's some nice forshadowing... or flashback-forshadowing, since SY happens later but it's written first... yes, slightly confusing... - because Jenn's going to go for bad-guy Jake, the one who got in a fight.)

So, to wrap this up... so I can get to actual writing... if I do have a muse out there, he or she - werf - should IM me or something, so we can have a talk. If not, I'm letting my characters take over. Again.

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