Muse Hits Woman on Highway

On a recent trip to upstate New York to visit family, I was struck by my muse on the 403 in Ontario. No, I wasn’t injured (thanks for asking) but I was inspired. It was perfect, actually.  Rich sleeping, no radio, CD or audio book, just me and my wandering thoughts.  And then it crept into my mind, the first sentence of my new book. “This house held secrets.”  One by one the next sentences unraveled in my brain like a rose opening in a time-lapse video. But I had no pen or paper, and as I said, I was driving on 403. Near Hamilton.  There was nothing to do but pray that I wouldn’t lose those sentences.
Gradually throughout the rest of the trip, the outline of the story unfolded before my mind’s eye.  This is unusual for me because my process is sit down and write what the characters tell you to write.  I never outline, and I seldom know where I am going until I get there, and usually I’m the most surprised of all. One thing I clearly knew was what the house would look like that would be the setting for the story. Perhaps I shouldn’t reveal these deep, dark author secrets, but hey, it’s true.  I clasped these inspired thoughts to me all through greeting my sisters, nieces and their families and friends Friday night.  First thing Saturday morning, I wrote down the opening paragraph and synopsis.
The plan for Saturday was to show Rich the Finger Lakes and brag a little. We both grew up on the Great Lakes. Rich was born in Michigan, so it takes a lot to impress us where lakes are concerned.  But the Finger Lakes didn’t let me down; he was impressed.   I knew by then that I would set my new novel in the Finger Lakes region because just being their I felt their magic and mystery seep into my bones.  We dined at the Steamboat Landing on the shore of Canandaigua Lake, then headed to Seneca Lake for some winery tours. Along route 5/20 I shouted to Rich, “There’s my house!”  Standing abandoned by the side of the road was a dilapidated yellow house that was exactly what the house I had envisioned for my novel looked like. He turned the car around and we snapped pictures from every angle imaginable. I kept repeating, “I don’t believe this. I don’t believe this.”
We resumed our journey and eventually ended up at Belhurst Castle on Seneca Lake.  Once a beautiful castle that housed an illegal speakeasy on the second floor, it is now a B&B and restaurant. A wedding was in progress on the grounds as we sipped our wine samples and chatted with our bartender. In the course of the conversation, Rich told her I was in the process of writing a book that would be set in this region.  He also told her about Love’s Destiny and she ordered it on her phone right then and there. She then told us the castle was believed to be haunted. Holy Smokes, could this day get any better?? I purchased a book about the history of Belhurst Castle and then commenced to dog waiters and other staff with questions about the ghost. Most blew me off with “I don’t believe in that stuff,” until I ran into one of the chefs. “Do you have a ghost story?” I asked.  His eyes twinkled and he said, “I have better.  I have a picture.”  He showed us a picture on his phone taken by a guest of her husband.  In the foreground there is a clear image of a woman with long hair and another seated at a table in front of the husband.  The wife said the images were not visible as she was taking the picture.  How cool is that?
Needless to say, the castle will be an intricate part of my story. This was a new one for me, all this outlining and knowing the ending before I start.  And the way all of this occurred throughout the day was amazing. I can’t get the book or the characters out of my mind and I have already begun the novel. Once again, I chalk it up to my d.a.m. inspiration–my divine attendant muse. It will be very fun to write a book and know a little bit more than my characters…for now.

5 thoughts on “Muse Hits Woman on Highway

  1. Anonymous says:

    My cousin owned a house down in Geneva that was haunted. My mom actually stayed there and heard some of the goings on. She was a brave soul.

  2. This is real-life magic that happened in your creative brain! Most WONDERFUL.
    Have you listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s non-fiction book BIG MAGIC? I think you’d love it! You totally embody her ideas of being open to creativity, and the work that comes after it hits!

    • Elizabeth Meyette says:

      I read BIG MAGIC and loved it!!! It did feel magical when it happened because as those words came to me, I KNEW it was a book.Thank you for your kind words, Amy. I would say the same of you 😉

  3. What a marvelous experience, Betty. I love that time in the car with no radio or TV, just me and my muse (who doesn’t have a cool name, like Boris). I hope you stopped in at the Women’s Rights National Historic Park at Seneca Falls. Hubs & I drove through the Finger Lakes because I wanted to stop there. I even incorporated it into one of my books. Good luck with your new project.

    • Elizabeth Meyette says:

      Thanks, Diane. Yes, Seneca Falls is so important in the fight for equality. Maybe that’s why Jesse is a “woman’s libber” lol

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