Surprised by My Muse   2 comments

I’m trying a new monthly blog hop on the 1st Wednesday of the month, hosted by the Insecure Writers Group (part of the Readers Gazette).

Their writers’ prompt for September 6 is:

Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?

Why, yes, I have.

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Last year, a contact sent me an invite to join the Agorist Writing Workshop’s anthology project “Echoes of Liberty.” First, I had only written one other short story in 25 years. That had been a teaser for my fantasy series, included in an anthology of Breakwater Harbor Books authors, so it was a shoe-in (so to speak) and based in a universe I know very well. Second, the theme was alternative historical fiction, a genre I hadn’t read … well, maybe since high school. I’m a novelist. I’m a fantasy novelist. I don’t write short.

However, I had determined that there was a niche audience for my Transformation Project series among libertarians, voluntaryists and agorists, so the best way to crack that audience seemed to be to submit to the anthology … and, besides, I like a challenge. Alternative historical fiction with a libertarian theme … how hard could that be?

I did more research for that one short story than I have done for the entire Transformation Project series. I ended up writing three actual short stories. Two of them weren’t very good. I tend to be a character-driven discovery writer and they were all about plot and theme and … yeah.

“A Bridge at Adelphia” was worth a rewrite because the character of Lai could live beyond the project. It is based on the founding of what is now Marietta, Ohio, an area of the country where my mother’s tribe was active around the time that the US Constitution was ratified. My crux for the alternative history was that the Constitution failed to be ratified. And from there … well, I’m not going to give away the story, but it turned out pretty good and I met the theme’s requirements.

What surprised me, besides that I actually made it into the anthology, was that I enjoyed writing it and want to write some more. Lai has more story to tell. I may expand the short story into a full-length novel. It’s an interesting theme — what would have happened in North America had the US Constitution not been ratified? It is especially interesting to explore what might have happened to my mother’s tribe had the Articles of Confederation stayed in effect.

2 responses to “Surprised by My Muse

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  1. How cool that the challenge of writing the story spawned a character that can grow beyond. That’s a very interesting “what if” to explore.

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    • Absolutely. I rarely — could actually say I haven’t forced a character to become into being since the grade school assignment that set off my muse in the first place. I hated doing that and so have never done it since. But Lai allowed himself to be born when I started to coax him and he’s a fully-fledged character. The slow part is that it is alternative history, so getting the details right is important. It won’t be a fast story to write, but I hope to eventually complete it.

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