Third Time’s the Charm, or How I Got My Muse Back
“Once is an accident.
Twice is conincidence.
Three times is an enemy action.”
— Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but when things happen in threes it means something. If it’s due to the actions of a single person, I know it’s a sign of intent. When it comes from inside my own head, on the other hand, it means my psyche is telling me I have something to do.
This past year has been fantastic. I have a great job with a fantastic company and just plain good folk to work with. As you can see from my Tumblr page, I’ve been painting minis like a fiend. I’m even considering another round of grad school, this time for science! Despite all that, though, one thing has been bugging me: writing. I haven’t consistently written anything for a couple of years. I fell out of the groove while I was unemployed, and as a result I’ve lost that drive. Worse yet was the self doubt that took my Muse’s* place — was I ever really a writer or was I just faking it?
That’s why earlier this year I signed on for the summer writing workshop at Seton Hill. Six years ago, magic happened here. I felt alive, charged with the knowledge of craft of writing, working my ass of on that thesis novel, interact with like-minded students who were also reaching for that Great Dream. I wanted to know if I still had it in me. God knows I’m a much different person than the one I was back then…
Tonight, my fellow alumni are putting together a “Gatsby Ball.” While costumes from the 20s aren’t going to be mandatory, they are being encouraged. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to put together something new, so I decided to grab a suit and my fedora and play detective. Then the Muse said, “Really?” So I decided that since genre was an option in costuming, I’d throw my shirt of black chainmail on over the dress shirt and under the coat and add a little urban fantasy into the mix. Then I thought, “hey, I could make a cheap little magic wand and do my take on the Wizard/P.I.” Then I found some fake business cards a friend of mine had made for fun…
Did you ever have that moment where something in your head goes “click?” Like when you actually feel something physical and your thought process goes into high gear? Here’s where that bit about threes comes in.
Around 2000, maybe 2001, I played in a Call of Cthulhu game involving a cult of werewolves from Egypt. My character was a private detective who had relocated from New Orleans to Arkham, and went by the name of Thomas Fogg.
Last year I played in a game of Mage: The Ascension, and I wanted to play a detective who didn’t want to be a mage, with a power set that didn’t exactly complement his natural skill set. Thinking back to that Call of Cthulhu campaign, I thought it would be fun to make this character a descendant, and so Thomas Fogg IV came into being.
And three nights ago, when I was thinking about my wizard/detective costume, I looked at those cards — a prop from that first game — and saw the name Thomas Fogg.
In several flurried bursts of brain flow I had a character — I knew something of what he’d done in life but still have sussed out the why. I needed to find out, so I opened a file and called it “Character study” and jotted notes while attending the lectures here at the workshop.
Last night I put 500+ words to a fresh new project “The Damned Detective” and I don’t want to stop.
The Muse is awake again, and has quite a bit to say. I’m back, and so is that desire.
Now, enough talk about writing. I’m gonna go do some.
*I should note that I don’t believe in a Muse, per se, as some sort of internal entity any more than I believe that characters in fiction have some sort of will of their own. My Muse is strictly psychological, wedged somewhere in that creative part of the brain with an extension into the logical to keep things balance, but the term is so widely used I might as well just call it that.