So I’m working on Holly Lisle’s Writer’s Block Course


And damn.  She’s made me cry twice already with visualizations of conversations with my muse. So at one point, there was an exercise where I just needed to sit and write, basically to have a conversation with my muse and figure out what the fuck she’s thinking, ’cause I want to write funny, fantasy stuff, and she seems to want to write morbid, depressing, horrible stuff and it kinda bums me out.

But anyway, in the interest of showing you what I’m going through here, I’m posting my conversation with my muse, and the very short story that came at the end.  The story isn’t edited at all except for typos and grammar, and it’s written from a four year old’s perspective [so, you know, if it sounds like a four year old wrote it, it’s because she DID!]

Want the truth?  I hate the story.  Hate everything about it. It’s my least favorite form of fiction, least favorite topic, and I’m bitter that I wrote it in a way.

On the other hand… it’s the very first time I’ve ever EVER embraced the darkness within me and written what’s in there.  Which is why I’m posting it, because it represents a MASSIVE victory.

Okay, so here goes [I’ll mark my muse’s statements with “M” and my stuff with “S”]:

[s]I’m scared of fiction. I’m scared of letting go and letting my muse take over completely because the stuff that’s in me is so freaking dark, and I hate dark shit.

I don’t like where we’re going, oh muse y one. Why won’t you tell me something funny? Is it me?
What story do you really want to write? Which genre? What length? What subject matter? What life? Which themes? What story do you want to tell? Why? When can we start? How does it start? Is there any humor in it?

[m]Yes, but not much. Humor isn’t what we need to write right now.

[s]Then what is.

[m]mPain. Hurt. There’s a lot in there that we need to purge. Vindictiveness. The sins of your soul, Shelbi. If we’re going to have therapy and fun at the same time, you’re going to have to face your worst fears and write the fuckers down.

Write them down, Shelbi
[s]Losing a child. Losing my husband to death. Having my kids grow up and be bad people.
Wait, that’s it?
[m]Nope. What are the rest of them?
[s]Being hated. Having people think I’m stupid, worthless, a failure. Having people think I’m a freak.
Standing out in a crowd. Not being recognized in a crowd.

[m]What else?

[s]That I’m really a bad person. Irretrievably so. That if I write evil stuff, people will think I’m possessed.
[m]Are you?
I have the living God within me, that isn’t even possible.
[m]Then fuck ‘em.
[s]Hey, you are funny!
[m]Well, yeah, but we’re still not there yet.
Fears. Come on, Shelbi. There’s more in there.
[s]That people will read what I write and hate it, and therefore hate me, too.
[m]You’re kind of wrapped up in what other people think of you, aren’t you?
Think that’s a problem, kid?
[s]Yeah. It paralyzes me.
[m]So why does it matter so much?
[s]I don’t know.
[m]Not an answer. Try again.
Why does it matter to you what people think of you.
[s]Because if they hate me, they are proving me right.
Because I still hate me, too. I need constant appreciation and affirmation from others because deep down, my biggest fear is that I’m right about me, and I am only average.

Average? WTF?!?!
[s]I don’t hate me; I’m just afraid of never being famous. Or never being recognized as anything ‘special’.
[m]Is it really about being famous? Is that all writing is to you?
[s]No. But I want to be famous somehow…
[m]But why?
[s]Because I want to be special.
Why does it freaking matter?
Again with caring too much what people think of you…
Don’t you know that ‘average’ is a lie? Everyone is different. Similar but different. You have a gift in your writing. You have me, and I’m awesome as hell. God gave this to you so you could have fun while bringing him some glory. You love writing, so write.
Even if you never get published [yeah, right… HA! I’m awesome, so you don’t need to worry about that one, okay.] Anyway, even if you never get published, God gave you this gift and expects you to use it.
This is your ‘get out of the boat’ moment, Shelbi. Will you have the faith you need to trust God, and trust me, and write what comes?
Even the evil stuff you will write is okay by God. It’s real, even if it isn’t pretty, it’s part of you, part of this world, and by writing it down, you can exorcise it. Bring it out into the light and see what’s really there. Then let go of it and move on to writing something else.
The humor and love and joy are there, too, and it will shine through the darkness, because that is true too, and it is from God.

Are you ready to start?
*deep breath*

What story do you want to write? I’ll write anything. It doesn’t matter what it is, I will write it. I will write whatever you tell me to. We will write masterpieces together.
Let’s get started, okay?

[m]Good deal, kid. Let’s go!

Short story written immediately after above conversation:

A small child sits alone, playing in the dirt. She has an old doll in her hands, and she’s wearing nothing but underwear and a raggedy shirt. She has dirty hair, and her shins are lined in bruises. Her feet are caked with days’ worth of dirt. She doesn’t make a noise as she plays, but her eyes are alight with a dreamy expression. She holds the doll up, and to her, it isn’t a ragged, third or fourth hand doll, she is a fairy princess, and she is coming to rescue the little girl soon.

Mary’s mother is upstairs, with an ‘uncle’ of Mary’s. Mama goes to sleep sometimes, and it’s hard for Mary to wake her up. Mary has three brothers and a sister, but they were taken away. Mary is four. One of her brothers was six when they left, the rest were younger than she is.
Two of the boys were born at the same time, when Mary was two. The baby Sarah was born last year.
Mary didn’t know why she was the only one left at home, but now she plays alone.
Sometimes it’s hard for Mary to find food. She eats dry cereal out of the box most days, and sometimes mama will get bread and peanut butter.
Mary’s mama used to be the most beautiful mama in the world. She had long brown hair, and Mary used to like to wrap her fingers up in it. It was so soft and Mary felt safe when her mama’s hair fell over her face like a blanket.
Mama had a beautiful smile, and her skin was smooth and soft to touch. Now there are spots on mama’s face, and her smile looks mean.
Mary is scared of mama, especially since Joshua left. Joshie used to make sure Mary was fed. But it was Joshie who called the lady that came and got them. But the lady forgot Mary, and Mary was all alone.
A slow drizzle begins to fall on Mary’s head, but she keeps playing. She knows she can’t get into her mama’s house anyway, and she doesn’t really want to. She’s been in there when mama has an uncle before, and it was scary.
Her uncle had been naked, which Mary thought was yucky, but he had hit Mary’s mama until she fell asleep. Mary ran and hid in a closet, Joshie had taken the twins and baby Sarah down stairs and outside. While she was hiding, the lady had come to get Joshie, the twins, and baby Sarah, and left Mary alone.
Mary’s uncle comes out the door while the drizzle falls, and Mary shivers and plays with her dolly. He looks at Mary, but Mary is making herself too small to see. Mary sees the uncle out of the corner of her eye. He stands there for a long time, and then gets in his car and leaves.
Mary goes up stairs, soaked from head to toe and shivering. Mama is shaking. Mary doesn’t like the smell in the room, but she’s too cold to care, and goes inside anyway.
Mama sees Mary, and comes across the room. Mary reaches up for her mama, hoping mama will help her get warm. Mama is bleeding and crying, and scratching her arms. She picks Mary up, turns, and starts running across the room.

Mama is running toward the big window, and when she gets there, she doesn’t slow down. Mary hears the glass break, and then something warm and hot is on her shoulder and arm.
Mama holds Mary tight as she and her mama fall, and then everything goes black.

~~Yeah, so I hate it.  Every bit of it.  But I did it.  I wrote some fiction for the first time in months, and it sucks, but it’s mine!

About Shelbi

Work-at-home wife, mom of three kids, and caregiver for my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy. Never a dull moment, in other words. No idea how much I'll post, since I'm super busy these days, but maybe I'll get over here once in a while.

2 responses »

  1. Shelbi, what courage you have! I wish I could hug you right now. Even if you don’t like this story, you did it. You mastered your fear and you did it. Writing is a journey that never ends, up mountains and down into the Valley of Death, yet sometimes the hardest thing of all is to take that first step. Great job. I look forward to reading more of your journey.
    [here via Holly’s blog]

  2. Hi Joely,
    Thanks so much for stopping by to read my entry, and for your kind words.

    It’s funny, because I really do hate the story–it’s entirely too depressing and nothing I would willingly read– but last night, I found myself thinking of ways to improve and expand and make it better.

    You’re right, though, taking that first step was a booger. I’m taking the second step soon, so I don’t lose my momentum [can you get momentum from one step?]

    Anyway, thank you for taking the time to stop by and encourage me. It really means more than I can say.

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