Writing Lessons: What a New Shirt Taught Me About the Muse

I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Susan-Mermaid-avatar   I had a “fashion” moment last Saturday.

I’d been to the hair salon for a cut and color – an absolute must before a major holiday!  I’d driven with bestie Colleen to Danbury for shopping.  First, I said, let’s stop for a bite to eat.  Then, I promised, we would attack the mall and our Christmas lists.

But, as I crossed the parking lot, I realized:

  • The shirt I was wearing didn’t feel “good” on my body anymore,
  • It was too short for the current styles,
  • And it was faded.

We must detour, I insisted.  Just a quick stop at JCPenney, I promised.  Yes, I typically take several hours to decide on anything, but this will be different!  Zipped in, scanned the offerings, tried on three shirts, selected one.  I wore it to the cashier and held out of the tag dangling from my wrist:

“I realized the shirt I was wearing is too old to be decent.” (Colleen holds up the shirt I’d arrived in as proof) “So I found this shirt, and I want to wear it right now – can you ring it up without me taking it off?”

Like this, but prettier.

Do you know, this might be my favorite shirt now?  It got me out of a fashion pickle, allowing me to shop for several more hours without that sneaking sense of frumpdom.  I even cuddled the other shirt, safely wadded up in the JCPenney bag the sales associate had offered us, gave it a farewell pat… and stuffed it in a Food Court garbage can.

That’s how determined I was not to be lured into wearing it again.  Its twin (same print, different color) is still at home, but in the bag for Goodwill.  Let someone else deal with it.

You might wonder what this has to do with writing?  Well, when opportunity knocks, you answer.  You don’t hesitate, you act!

When it’s time to write, you don’t wait.  You don’t tell yourself  “Oh, I’ll remember that!  It’s such a good idea, how could I forget it?”  You can!  You can forget it!  Give your brain five milliseconds of distraction and your inspiration is gone!

You don’t tell the Muse to hang on.  When you have the idea, it’s time to buckle down and get your work done.

I hit JCPenney with an idea in mind.  I was determined to act on the idea.  It happened.  Not because I dithered.  Because I acted!

So, here’s the lesson.  Grab your Muse, shake it loose and tell it to get off its sweet hiney and give you material.  Then, don’t wait around for that fickle bitch to show up.   Make the material happen.  She’ll figure it out.

You can do this!  It’s your choice.  Are you gonna wear that tacky old shirt and hope the writing shows up?

I’m saying that the right man for you might be out there right now and if you don’t grab him, someone else will, and you’ll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that someone else is married to your husband.”

You can do better.  If you choose to be a writer, find it in yourself to step away from the tacky old shirts, the worn-out excuses, the distractions, and the do-overs.

The fact that you’re not answering leads me to believe you’re either (a) not at home, (b) home but don’t want to talk to me, or (c) home, desperately want to talk to me, but trapped under something heavy. If it’s either (a) or (c), please call me back.

Stupid delay tactics.  They neve work!  Which is why Harry had to run across New York to find Sally and claim her, at last, on New Year’s Eve.

Good for him.

About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

5 thoughts on “Writing Lessons: What a New Shirt Taught Me About the Muse

  1. Oh Susan, what a timely post. Appreciate the reminder to go for it, rather than sitting on the behind.

  2. Diana, thanks for the reply! In fact, I have realized my winter wardrobe includes, at this point, few attractive casual shirts. Good thing it’s Sale Season!

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