Tuesday, July 24, 2012
By: Jennifer I. Paquette
The Muses of Greek mythology were nine goddesses who presided over and protected the arts and sciences and who were said to inspire poets and artists. You may still hear people today refer to someone as their muse, because they inspired them and galvanized them to succeed.
About a year and a half ago we went to my nephew’s graduation party in Albany, New York. As soon as we walked in, my mother-in-law started screaming, “You have to meet Stephanie, she wrote a book, too!” I sighed at the reminder of the novel that had taken me over four years to write and that I query-dumped every six months or so, keeping track of my rejections on Google calendar.
Raising two teenage boys, working in my husband’s office and running a household left me virtually no time for my greatest joy: writing. Besides my precious novel, I had folders stuffed with stories and ideas written on loose leaf and paper napkins.
I was not in the mood to discuss my writing with anyone, but my mother-in-law was making a scene so, not even putting down my bags, I politely followed her into the kitchen. At the kitchen island stood an attractive brunette, about 15 years my junior, hovering over the black bean dip. Okay, I thought, I’ll play nice in the sandbox for a few minutes and then go find some wine. I was not in the mood to be forced to talk to someone, especially after a long drive with kids clamoring, “Are we there yet?” every time we approached an exit sign on the New York state thruway.
To say Stephanie and I hit it off within 30 seconds is an understatement. We were borderline rude the entire evening as we talked, comparing notes and sharing the agony of rejection and the ecstasy of inspiration. We finished the bean dip and washed it down with a bottle of wine. As it turns out, Stephanie’s husband is the brother of my husband’s brother’s wife. So we are related … sort of.
After the party we hugged fiercely and exchanged email addresses.
My life has changed ever since.
Since our serendipitous meeting in June, 2011, we have emailed and/or texted each other every single day, usually multiple times. We exchange websites and blogs, edited each other’s novels and short stories and relay info on writing contests. We also lament about getting published … when will it be our turn? We share thoughts on the books we’re reading, brainstorm ideas for starting our own company. We help each other with personal conundrums, my favorite being Stephanie guiding me, via texting, through setting up a Facebook Author page (remember, she’s my junior and much more technologically savvy). We re-named ourselves Thelma and Louise.
The most important part of our relationship is the “push” we have given each other with our writing: the constant creative inspiration, unselfish support and brutally honest critiquing (humor and emoticons are a must here!) on a daily basis. We edit each other’s stories either late at night or early in the morning. And each of us have found the time to write more in the past 14 months than ever before.
One day, after I read her “just right” comments on a story I was having a particularly hard time with, I sat back with a grin and emailed her one line: You are my Muse! My writing has, without a doubt, greatly improved because of my magical muse.
Stephanie got published first. I think she texted me before she told her husband. I was so thrilled and proud! We laughed, because I entered the same contest, but didn’t quite follow the rules (it was supposed to be a holiday romance story and I turned my protagonist into a psychopath at the end … whoops!). The next anthology contest (zombies) selected both of our stories for publication, and we were over the moon. I received my first “paying” acceptance last month and Stephanie texted and emailed me non-stop – her excitement was contagious. Next up was both of us joining the Write More family within a week of each other. Our accepted novellas were projects that we had emailed back and forth to each other for months, honing and editing every line, character, dialogue and descriptive detail. She is as much a part of my novella as I am of hers.
There is nothing like having a muse when you are a creative writer. Not only has Stephanie enhanced my creativity and inspired me when I needed it most, but she is a sounding block, a shoulder to cry on, always on hand for a belly laugh, and one of the most cherished friends I could ever have. Love ya Louise!
Jennifer I. Paquette and her son Nicholas will publish their first novella "The Awakening of
Agnostos" with Write More Publications May 2013.