Recently I added my 2012 “year-at-a-glance” poster to the wall. I toted everything up on the old calendar and realized by the end of the year, I will have been to seven conventions, traveled for four vacations (of varying lengths, but with three new countries), written one novel, published three short stories (and sent three more to editors), and done one short book tour. That's not counting non-writing work stuff, household chores, books, trips to the gym, new bourbons tried, trouble gotten into, and generally, life as normal people live it. Dang.
In almost all of these adventures, I've found new things to energize me and my writing. Mostly, I think of my muse as a work-a-day wench—she shows up for work when I show up for work; I roll up my sleeves, she rolls up her sleeves. We sit, we play loud music, we type. Sometimes we even type prose. Sometimes though, I'm left with the other face of my muse, the one who folds her arms and regards me with an icy, Marlene Dietrich-like regard. “Amuse me,” she says.
So here's a few of the things that sent me running for my notebook or keyboard this year.
New Conventions: I always have a blast when I go to Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, the Edgars, and the Salem Literary Festival, and I always look forward to the next time. I participated in three new-to-me events this year, though, and really got charged up from them. At Boskone in Boston, I got to geek out about SF and Fantasy AND talk mysteries (and make a joke about Strider and Boromir going to a fitness club, of which I am unreasonably proud). Florida's Sleuthfest was a blast, and I particularly loved the CSI tracks—like the bomb-squad bus and a robot! Robots! What muse can resist those? Most recently, Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Wisconsin) was a day-long event in a gorgeous library where I got to listen to fantastic authors and hang with readers. All of these events added to the TBR pile and the PSP (potential story pile).
Muskego also provided two other kinds of muse-fodder: Comic books and music. I used to have a nasty $40/week comic habit (back when $40 bought a lot of comics, and we didn't really have the $40 to spare), which lapsed sometime after graduate school. The good folks at CrimeSpree got me re-hooked, I'm pretty sure. Planetary sent me twirling with delight—and not just because they are “archaeologists of the impossible.” The artwork and writing is breath-taking. I'm also hip-deep into the reboot of Bat Woman and digging the work of Jill Thompson. Also at Muskego, I got into a long discussion about “music to write to” with Hilary Davidson, and now my playlists are replete with soundtrack selections and electronica. Thanks, Hilary!
Then there were the days the unexpected happened. In Stockholm, for example, we visited an outdoor history/architecture museum. We didn't know they also had an “Arctic animals” exhibit. I was expecting, well, architecture, not wolverines (wolverines!) fighting/playing over a piece of meat. I couldn't have been more surprised if it was actually Hugh Jackman. Closer to home, I cleaned my desk...uncovering three knives, a can of crocodile pate, and a bottle of holy water. Get cracking, muse, and wipe that bored look off your face!
So, Gentle Readers: What sends you running to your notebook or computer with a story idea?