I’ve heard a lot of voices in my time. Mostly they’ve said things like, “Teacher, he’s bothering me!” “Teacher, I have to go to the bathroom!” “Teacher, he farted!”
More recently, they say things like, “I need affirmation on this major project I just finished [or a subtle variation thereof],” or “I’m going to dig a hole for the composting toilet” (my husband); as well as, “Can I watch videos now?” or “What did you say?” (my son).
Yes, the voices of the people around you can be helpful, and they can be annoying. But there are other voices, as well. There are voices that (cue spooky music and ghost sounds) come from inside you.
Sources of inner voices
Okay. Actually, those kinds of voices aren’t all that spooky. They either come from
- Your mind (conscious or subconscious),
- Your spirit, or
- God’s spirit.
No, I will NOT be P.C. and replace that last phrase with “the universe.” Don’t MAKE me come to your house and give you my Teacher/Mom Dirty Look.
That settled, among authors the word “muse” is often tossed around as another way to refer to an inner voice, which is likely either your subconscious or your spirit. But I think sometimes people mistake either of those for the voice of God.
Whatever the source, the muse is that creative part of an author that helps guide the writing process. I’ve experience it at work in subtle ways before. But recently, it got really loud.
A not-so-novel struggle
I was merrily working on my latest novel, yet another clean romance, with the point of view alternative between the male and female protagonists as romance novels typically do. And then – BAM! I hit a wall.
As I rubbed my head and repented for the string of curse words that came out of my mouth during the impact, I looked up at the wall. I couldn’t look over it.
I tried to look around it, but it extended to my right and to my left as far as my eyes could see. There was no ladder to help me over it, no rabbit to dig a hole for me to get under it.
All I could see, floating up in the sky in the form of random clouds, were a handful of scenes that I knew were eventually going to happen in the story. This included the climax and resolution, and a few things leading up to the climax.
But I could not see my way to those scenes, nor the scenes that would act as bridges to the major scenes.
I. Was. Stuck.
Now, usually when I get stuck, it lasts a day, maybe two, and then my muse kicks with at least the next step. I start writing again, and then I can see my way forward fairly clearly.
This time, it lasted four whole days.
Yeah. Feel sorry for me. Children are dying on the streets in Haiti, and I was in Author Limbo for four days.
Sorry. Just trying to give myself some perspective there.
Anyway, not to write for four days might as well be a year to me. And anyone who’s ever written a novel will tell you that taking even two days off can mess you up because you start to forget little, albeit important, details.
Backtrack to a couple of weeks earlier. That is when I first began to hear The Voice relative to my latest novel. It said, “Give Rose a point of view.”
The voice was not audible, but it wasn’t quiet, either. And it came out of nowhere a handful of times, speaking very loudly in my head, before I ran into The Wall.
Now I need to tell you that Rose is the female protagonist in my previous novel, and was just going to be a minor character in this novel. However, when I hit The Wall, I heard The Voice several times over a period of just a couple of days: “Give Rose a point of view.”
If you think that’s crazy, I argued back in my head: “But then it won’t be a straight romance. But she’s already had a chance to be a main character. But but but but but but.”
Despite my stubbornness, I began to re-conceive the novel in my head. I began to see how the story would be enriched by the subplot Rose would bring to life. How she could impact the main protagonists.
On Day Five, I went back several chapters in my novel and added her in. A couple chapters later, she got the starring role again.
The Voice quieted, and The Wall disappeared like smoke in a gust of wind.
Where was the voice coming from? I once heard someone describe the voice of God as “a growing conviction over time.” Even when The Voice was not speaking to me directly, I did, over a period of a couple of weeks, experience a growing conviction that Rose was to have a point of view.
So it may have been the voice of God.
Or, it could have been my muse. I’m not positive.
But, who cares? It has proved very helpful.
As long as you don’t call the men in white coats to come get me and throw me into a padded cell. Thanks in advance. 😉