Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Photo by Suzanne Long

The cottage was supposed to be a balm for my muse. A place where I would untangle my writing and forge onward. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cottage but for some reason my muse didn’t. The tranquility, the green, the call of the loon and the quiet lap of water on the shore did nothing for it. Like a fickle lover who is “just not feeling it tonight”, there was nothing I could do to change its mind until Sunday. Funnily enough, my muse decided to wake from its slumber in the shower of all places.

They say to listen to everyone’s input, good or bad, because somewhere in there is a tidbit to work with. Can’t please everyone, kind of thing. While in the shower, these tidbits rattled around in my head until, like the Lottario balls, one dropped into place. I had a setting. Nothing more, just a setting for Appetites.

Dressed and with coffee cup in hand I sat at the table with my laptop. I had no expectations other than to jot down the setting to work on later. The next thing I knew I was at five pages and at a crossroads where I had to rethink my characters. Maybe simplify, cut out some plotlines to stream line.

I had stumbled upon another ‘learning’ experience.

As this blog is about my journey through the trials and tribulations of penning my first (and second) novel, I’ve realized that I can and have gotten too close to my book. I couldn’t see the story for the words.

It’s not that I’m overly descriptive in my style, it’s just that once I’ve put the words down on paper, my brain thinks it’s done it’s job and abandons me for any future fine tuning. It leaves my trying to ladle soup with a fork.

As much as I dislike multiple drafts, the editing process has been a painful learning experience. One that has opened my eyes and enabled me to see Echoes, and by extension Appetites, with new eyes.

Writing is about adapting. It’s about always learning. Ultimately it’s about the cumulation of that knowledge and distilling that into a great story. It is very easy to get distracted when the hard times hit and the story is harder to find or when the edits feel like complete re-writing the whole book… from scratch. It is also easy to let the nay-sayers bog you down and question whether the whole process is worth it.

THAT is where the true writers surface and the flotsam sinks. The willingness to tell a good  great story wins through. The ability to accept changes and see why they are necessary.

So, where am I going with all this writerly ramblings? I’ve floundered a bit, but I think I’ve found my stroke. Echoes is a good book but I can see how to make it better. In today’s market, it has to be. There’s so much talk about the e-industry killing the writer, but I feel it has just expanded the platform for the William Hungs of the ‘Writing Idol’. Good writers will always be in demand. The rest? They’ll have their fifteen minutes of fame. The publishing industry will adapt, like all things do and hopefully I will have more than my fifteen minutes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the shower. Not only are the acoustics great for singing but they are great for thinking and plotting and…

Rub-a-dub.

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About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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8 Responses to Familiarity Breeds Contempt

  1. Dave Jones says:

    Familiarity breeds contempt for sure but luckily ‘family breeds contentment’.

    Don’t be in the shower too much or your muse will look like a prune.

  2. Ruth Walker says:

    My muse can’t seem to cross the river to our cabin and settle in. Oh, she/he tickles my mind now and then with an image or sensation but stops short of coming out of the bushes when I lift pen in hand.

    After 5 years of cottaging, it’s getting better. I noticed the muse out by the bunkie the other day but she/he ducked before I got there. But it’s a sign that the majestic white pines, screeching jays, soft breezes and dance of river water over the rocks may hold a place for my muse to hang in at last while I’m at the cabin.

    Of course, I never tried the shower. Maybe that might be the very thing to bring home the muse in Haliburton.

    Soldier on, Dale. Soldier on.

    • Dale Long says:

      I think it’s Haliburton, too many places for the muse to hide. I’ve felt the same way. It’s like a sneeze that builds and then is gone. Nothing tangible. Arg.
      I will soldier on, your edits have ensured that. Thank-you!

  3. Lisa Llamrei says:

    I’m just glad your muse has decided to put in an appearance. Now, quick – hog tie her and don’t let her out of your sight.

    • Dale Long says:

      I’m glad to see my muse again too. I’ll definitely strike while the iron is hot. To that end I was able to pen a scathing blog and an 800 word entry for the Whispered Words. Plus, I’m feeling a renewed energy for Echoes edits and more Appetites.

  4. Diane Dooley says:

    You’re way too easy on your muse. You need to crack a whip or something *grin*

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