Getting the Muse Fired Up with a Break

From the writing desk of Christine Mazurk - "The heart of change is the change of heart."

My husband and I spent an adventurous Memorial Day Weekend in Southern Utah, exploring new areas. We took a motorcycle ride to Page, Arizona and discovered Horseshoe Bend. After a mile hike up and over bright red sand and mountain rocks we reached the ledge. You look down to see the lake winding itself through the canyon like an emerald ribbon. Tiny boats looked like pieces of rice moving slowly atop the ribbon. Next we discovered the upper and lower ledges of Antelope Canyon, the most visited and most photographed slot canyon on the Navajo land near Page. Even as a writer, I can't find the words to describe it properly! How about AMAZING!

The next day we found a Red Rock site with dozens of people standing on top of these huge formations looking out at the view of Downtown St. George. We followed the trail and climbed rocks, took pictures of the incredible views, but because we are who we are, we got off the beaten path and forged our own trail to the back ridge to see what awaited on the other side.

After hiking for several hours, we headed to our favorite cafĂ©, Xetava Garden Cafe in Kayenta for a smoothie: Mine is called The Lucky Girl. Can you guess my husband's? The Dirty Girl! We walked around the little village, saddened that a few retailers had disappeared, but excited for the ones that thrived. Then we headed to our next adventure, the Santa Clara Reservoir, a seven to eight mile trailhead that leads to ancient petroglyphs and an excavation site of what they believe to be a hundred-year-old Ancestral Puebloan farmstead. They discovered eight small rooms they believed were used for crop storage for the farmers who grew corn, squash and beans along the river.

Why am I sharing our little vacation with you? Well, simply put, the time in nature's glory is like a fuse for the muse. But more accurately, while we were out there for hours, my husband said, "Tell me about Passion's Spirit. I heard you tell your writer friend last week that you felt in your gut something big was missing and you couldn't put your finger on it," (The man listens.) I told him about the story. He asked questions about the hero and heroine, our conversation continuing for quite some time.

After many questions and answers, he paused and after a thoughtful moment said, "I know exactly what the problem is."

"You do," I replied.

"Your readers loved Passion's Race because of CJ's athletic journey: her relationship with her mother, her choice to leave her career and travel half-way around the world with an all male team of pros, her struggles to be accepted in the team, her health scare, her races, AND the love story. This sounds like boy meets girl, they both carry baggage, eventually overcome that baggage, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Where is the athletic journey?"

He continued with, "I know your heroine runs to clear her mind and she is a phenomenal runner, but so what? Where are the struggles, the goals, the motivation. You have to make this big, so your readers fall in love with your characters and cheer for them to the end!"

BINGO. He's right. The man is a genius!

Right away my muse jumped in and created pictures in my head, simple ways to work with what I already had to turn it into something big. The morning after we returned home, I went to my office armed with a mug of Zen tea to work. I always open my emails prior to opening my WIP, and what greeted me in my inbox? An email from an attorney/writer I'd met weeks ago for coffee to discuss agents, editors, and publishing.

His note said: "I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed Passion's Race. You write about running and training with such authenticity and ease. The descriptions of Guam, Wisconsin, and California created pictures in my head - just what a writer wants. I loved the characters and their development as the book progressed. The relationship between CJ and her mother was painful, in a good way, making the story complex and intriguing. The plot twists kept me wanting more. CJ is an intriguing character and I'm looking forward to Passion's Spirit."

WOW. Validation that my husband was right. I have to give my readers that same experience with Passion's Spirit. And I know just how to do it.

I spent the rest of the day moving scenes, flipping chapters, and adding new material. My muse was doing the Snoopy Dance behind me, or was it the Tango or the Samba? Though it is still a work in progress, I can see on the movie screen in my head what will unfold on the very last page!

Now, it's back to work for me.
Until next time, hugs,
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