Most writers have a little voice inside that whispers ‘what ifs’ to them and takes them on wild rides into their own imagination. This voice is commonly called a muse.
My muse has a name–Shirley.
Now, really, when I decided I needed to call her something besides ‘that voice in my head’ I thought Hazel would be a fantastic name. I mean, it has a z in it. But She would have none of it. She jumped up and down for a full hour, chanting “Shirley! Shirley!” over and over until I relented. I mean, she lives in my head. What was I supposed to do? You guessed it.
Shirley is that voice that says things to me like, “What would happen if…? And “wouldn’t it be funny if…” and other equally thought provoking questions that sometimes turn into great stories. Sometimes, they’re just the beginning of an idea, a scene in a book-in-progress, or they end up as a sentence or two jotted down on the back of a bank receipt.
But Shirley is behind them all.
To say Shirley has been with me for a while is an understatement, and to say that she’s never gotten me in trouble would be a flat-out lie. But she’s always there in the back of my mind, making me look at things in a different light, making me see something where others might see nothing at all.
That’s not to say that Shirley never lets me down. Sometimes she takes unexpected vacations without letting me know she’ll be gone. When she finally gets back and I ask her where she’s been, she won’t tell me. (Though I secretly suspect she’s been hanging out on the beach with a gorgeous local. The tan usually gives her away.) But at least she comes back refreshed and able to help me get through whatever task my editor has set forth for me.
That’s what Shirley does for me. She feeds me ideas, nudges me along until I craft them into a complete story. And she’s always there to see them through (at least in the off season.) Now if I could just teach her how to make my coffee! ;)