When The Muse Calls With Inspiration — You Listen

You always hear people talking about muses whispering in their ear, as if in a trance, or their “characters” speaking to them. Well, I’m not a novelist so I don’t have characters to take over the heavy lifting of writing, but I will say that it feels like someone else wrote up my book proposal.

I had been working for a while on a memoir about my infertility, based on my New York Times Fertility Diary column, which I always assumed would be my first book.

But then after a random conversation (is anything really random??) with an agent talking about another idea I had (I always have so many) got me thinking: Why NOT do a more practical book, helping other women through the fertility process. People contact me every day to help them with treatment or family or finding a doctor. WHY AM I NOT WRITING A BOOK ABOUT THIS?

And then, the muse. I think it was July when I first started writing the outline to this new voic-y prescriptive book, putting to paper everything I’d been doing unofficially for the last two years while I was writing my memoir. And then when I looked up again, it was August. I’d written an entire outline and chapter summaries while Summer had slipped through my fingers.

Even after I added the marketing info (i.e. the hard and boring part) and went on to send out the proposal to agents, I looked at it, thinking, who wrote this? It was polished, it was good — it really just felt like something had overtaken me to put it down to paper.

How does that help you, the writer? Are you supposed to sit by the window waiting for the muse? (Or, like Pinkalicious, in my daughter’s children’s books, plant flowers so the fairies will come?).

No, because there was no real muse.

I must have been thinking about this all along, somewhere in the crevices of my mind. It had been within me, sitting like dry logs, waiting for an ember to spark them.