Sunday, March 24, 2013

Move over Muse…

What has your muse done for you lately? Is she reclining on a cloud, lyre in hand…musing? We often refer to our creative innovations and ah-ha moments as muse inspired. What about spiritual serendipity?

I’ve learned that all these sources of genius are one and the same. Being there at the right time, our imaginations sparked by a song, a word, a scene, all require a little push from the Muse, and are the genesis of spiritual serendipity. If we miss the memo, the moment passes and our writing takes a different turn.

Recently the magazine I write for!issue-14
asked me to do articles about relationships, I thought in literature; and I also thought from the writers POV. My thinking was that the magazine is full of book covers; writers advertise in the periodical. I was wrong. Once tightly focused and submitted, I sensed a reduced amount of enthusiasm from the publisher for the project, even though I had said in the article that this Man/Woman section would be followed by one on family dynamics (I had no idea what I would say in that!), and the third, GLBT, with a more personal focus on the relationships and the literature, not the lifestyle. I warned her I didn’t want to do GLBT first because my daughter is gay and I feared starting with that would not be a positive beginning for me. The other two articles would appear anticlimactic.

The editor/publisher sent back the first article with a “not what I had in mind”. To make it more of a readers’ article, I decided to explore the husband and wife relationship in Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. Using a spoiler alert, I dissected the man woman aspect, and the article improved. By switching the POV to a reader’s perspective, the article was more what she’d had in mind. She gave me the go-ahead for the other two articles.

My Muse provided the nudge, and faith in serendipity gave me the courage to try. Instead of proceeding cautiously from one to the other, I did rough drafts of the last two articles simultaneously. Suddenly the choir sang and the lights came up. They fed on each other. After a few days I sent them both to my publisher who loved them. The GLBT article was an inspiration to the family dynamic and vice versa. I had a story to tell and several books—not just one—that I could use as examples. I explored classic or well-known books that anyone might have read at some point in their lives. Examples are a good gimmick for making your point without dragging the reader though your personal tedium.

See, I just did it again. I hope you stayed with me.

Julie Eberhart Painter is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee, and sequel, Medium Rare. Daughters of the Sea is available from and Visit Julie’s Web site at


Big Mike said...

No way can I ignore my muse. She's too bossy and yells at me all the time.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Mike, you poor thing!

Marsha said...

Hey Julie. Great post about how things work our in their own time if we're willing to listen and work hard. Have you read anything by Suzanne Brockman? Her son is gay and she has several gay characters in her books. Really well done and I'm sure her writing has opened hearts to be more accepting of our differences while recognizing all the ways we're alike. Thanks for an intriguing post. I'm a new MIUer with first book coming out this summer.:)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

My post on GLBT writing and the covers as well as the personal take will be in Cocktails Fiction and Gossip
October 1. It's the third in the series. I'll look for Suzanne's work.

Liz Fountain said...

Just shows to go ya - being true to the "heart of the story," even when writing a non-fiction piece, is the way to go. The muse speaks when we're willing to listen! Thanks, Julie!

Elizabeth Fountain (