One of the lessons I keep re-learning with writing is that you can’t force it. Muse will not be made to do anything. She will dig in her heels, bare her teeth, and flail her arms like the Tasmanian Devil if you try to make her do anything.

Now, if you give her gentle direction and let her play . . . well, then you might be on to something.

Even better is if you combine that gentle Muse guidance while embracing serendipity.

[If you have any interest in the creative process, or story details, keep reading.
Otherwise, skip it and know that I apparently lack any knowledge of Western World History pre-WWII.]

Case in point: I just finished reading War and Peace (it only took five months—thank goodness for the Kindle), and Tolstoy spends a fair chunk of time writing about why the French army, after invading Russia and occupying Moscow, up and decides to leave*. Sure, one could argue various theories, but I have another one: what if the Menace** had invaded Moscow and the French were fleeing it?

Then with some poking into Wikipedia, I find out that the British army was running about the world during that same time period, including the Caribbean, India, South Africa, China, and Egypt. Oh, and the Ottoman Empire was also trying to rule the world, and was facing in the 1820’s a Greek War of Independence while the Empire was occupying the Balkans*** .

And the previous day I had just set Crete as the location of the Menace’s secret weapons base without knowing any of this.

Hmmm . . . So I look up information on Crete (all I knew was that it was a Greek island that was situated perfectly between Egypt and Greece). Did you know the Venetians had occupied Crete between the 13th-17th centuries? Oh, and they  built massive shipyards and large warehouses there?

And the name of my novel is “The Vacant Ships”. I hadn’t quite figured out what ‘ships’ or how they were ‘vacant’ and what any of that meant.

Hmmm . . .

So, yeah. Serendipity. It’s a wonderful thing.

Writing sessions today:

20″ – 518 words

20″ – 536 words

35″ – 1099 words

Total novel writing time so far: 830 minutes (13 hours 50 minutes)

Total novel word count so far: 22598 words


*Mind you, my knowledge of World History is generally only in relation to Japanese history. If Japan wasn’t involved, I probably don’t know much about it. So pardon my ignorance on events like the Napoleonic Wars, but feel free to ask me about matrilineal politics in 10th century Japan.

**The Menace are the Big Bad of my Nano novel. Think mystical Chinese army run by an ambitious Emperor bent on world domination.

***AKA Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, small parts of Italy. This was news to me, but see my first comment above. I am much more familiar with Asia.