Last night I had to give eldest another dose of Lice Killer shampoo. This was followed by combing her absurdly thick hair with a literal nit-picky comb. We were watching the first Lord of The Rings movie so it went relatively well. But by the time we were done and I was finished with my own work it was nearly midnight. I don’t usually read in bed anymore – I’m reading so much during the day for betas and crits and for my own writing – I usually play solitaire on my phone until I get sleepy*.
I think the reason that people believed in muses back in the day is because of the way that ideas can seem to drop directly into your conscious brain, as if someone placed it there, like a present or a flower or a prettily wrapped bar of chocolate. It wasn’t there and all of a sudden it is, like the best kind of surprise.
So last night, as I lined up the red queen under the red king, two things came into my head almost at the same time, colliding like smashed atoms. First was an image of a boy swallowing children. Creepy right? I know. But I also saw him coughing them back up, the way an owl might cough up a bundle of mouse fur and bones. The children he coughed back up were fine, bundled in little cocoons and asleep. He’d been only keeping them, not consuming them. I realized then that he was a monster, a bogey man that parents warned their kids about to keep them out of the woods. But I also knew that he wasn’t monstrous. And then a piece of a song floated into my mind and I knew his name. I didn’t invent or come up with his name. I just knew it (maybe this muse thing is for real…?) And his name was Friend Catcher.
I stayed up another hour writing in my notebook about Thomas and his companions and the Village of Meek where they live, in perpetual winter, at the edge of an enormous wood. Holy EFF. I have a new book to write.
I can’t write it now. I have too much revision work to do on FIND ME and too much to think about with BOOKEND being on submission. But the spark, the start of THE FRIEND CATCHER is intoxicating. I went to bed last night feeling like I’d just met a cute boy or gotten a promotion or won a prize. I had the almost tangible, flickering ember of something new in my hands. That’s my favorite part of writing.
Anyway, here’s the song that partially inspired Thomas’ fledgling story – no visuals just awesome music. The Friend Catcher by The Birthday Party
*Don’t judge. I find playing solitaire a great way to free up the subconscious mind. Worked, didn’t it? Can’t do that with Angry Birds.