I can think of a hundred reasons why a wild girl would meet a boy in red at the edge of the woods and go after him. But only a few would apply if the girl in question is AlmaMia Cienfuegos. This is the logic I use when writing stories: I think a few characters, propose some questions, and write tales that detail the characters’ search for the most believable answers to the questions I’ve asked.
“Corn Silk,” the second tale in AlmaMia Cienfuegos and Other Stories, was inspired by this bit: “[Soledad] and the other teenagers pushed [AlmaMia] against a coconut tree and tickled her armpits until her underwear and legs got wet and warm.” I wanted to know (1) what would drive a sister to treat another in that manner, (2) in what way the deed would be done, and (3) how the event would affect those involved.
Wishing upon Earth and Bone, my NaNoWriMo 2013 project (25,136 words, halfway there!), is the product of a statement that left my Muse full of inquiries: “…bones have strong memories. And earth never forgets.” When Mamabuela, AlmaMia’s grandmother, said those words, I started to wonder… If the Cienfuegos matron is correct, then the land—the things growing in it, built on it, buried in it—will know all kinds of interesting details about its people. AlmaMia, my Muse and I make a very curious team. AlmaMia follows the Boy in Red to learn more about him, my Muse stays with her because she is nosy, and I write the adventures they bring back.
When I shared the information above with a friend who is also participating in NaNoWriMo, and who happens to be falling a bit behind, she said: “You are lucky, Magaly. My muse hasn’t said a damn thing to me in days.”
I told her I was going to write this post to explain something about La Señorita Muse…
My dear friend, when it comes to doing what we want her to do and when we want her to do it, the Muse is about as willing and reliable as a cat. And anyone who shares his or her life with a feline, already knows that cats would find the hurriedness of NaNoWriMo to be a direct insult to their
naturally lazy disposition and independent nature…
I’m not luckier than any other writer out there. I follow routines. I share those routines with those who can offer encouragement if and when I need it—my Piano Man. I use the same general method when starting every story: characters, questions, possible answers (the tale comes to life while exploring the conflicts that always show up attached to the answers).
Although writing is extremely fun for me, this doesn’t mean that it is always fun; many times the fun is found in how challenging the process can become. I get happy when my characters provide a particularly strange answer, and I can shape it in a way that suggests that it is the only possible answer to the conflict at hand.
So… no secret lucky trick, just writing all the time; when the story flows easily, and when the storytelling process feels like every word is a drop of thick blood being squeezed out of my heart.
|squeezed from Journey, who squeezed it from Google images|