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Kelly Cheek
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You’re my soul and my heart’s inspiration

For a writer, there’s nothing quite so comforting and satisfying as having your muse living under the same roof. (Sleeping in the same bed is pretty hot, too, but this isn’t that kind of post.)

My current work in progress, Gazing Into the Abyss, has given me some issues lately. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with my inability to stay focused on it, due to distractions with travel plans, and all the minutia included – planning dates, buying tickets, confirming house- and pet-sitters, booking lodging, etc. When those plans change every other day (slight exaggeration), the writing issues are only compounded.

I’m not saying that talking about the story with Linda solves everything, but seriously, that’s not far off.

As a voracious reader, and a pretty smart cookie, she is a pro at brainstorming. When I mention a problem I’m having with the story, she might toss off an idea, or more often two or three. That’s not to say that I will always use her idea – though sometimes I have – but her ideas will often, at the very least, spark something in my head that helps me to resolve whatever problem I’ve been having.

This story is the fourth book in the SpiritSense saga, and while the premise is the same as the previous three books, the story is very different. The first three books were historical fiction, dealing with real events or time periods. This one, well, it’s also set in a real time period, but that period is only about fifteen years in the past.

Stories set a hundred years ago or more leave a little wiggle room since nobody alive today can comment on the exact feel of a time or situation. That’s not to say that there’s no information about such times. Much has been written and, depending on how far back, even photos have been taken, to establish what a particular time or event was like. I do tons of research in order to try to make my stories authentic, not only to the time, but to the characters, as well. Still, its distance from the present often allows for some artistic license.

It’s not so easy to fudge things that most people know for certain about the period, because anybody with their memory still intact will remember. That even includes, to an extent, me. Certain things like the crash of 2008 still weigh heavily on a lot of people’s minds.

I remember watching my 401(k) dropping daily, to the point that I was even considering cashing out what was left – substantial penalty for early withdrawal be damned! – before it disappeared altogether. I didn’t, though, and it recovered, which means that I’ve had something to watch as it dropped during the past month.

The crash of 2008 has played into the story but my writing problems often come when a scene involves heightened emotion, or how someone in the real world might have dealt with a particular everyday issue. (I wasn’t in the real world back then – see the post It’s the End of the World as We Know It.)

So, having my muse conveniently within reach is a huge help to me. Those who don’t have that situation, and must rely on the elusive figurative source of inspiration, well, I sympathize.

Although maybe we should discuss the possibility of renting her out for brainstorming purposes. Travel doesn't come cheap!