by Judy

I have a recliner in my bedroom.  I sleep in it.  Just for the record, I also have a bed.  A very nice bed.  But I am at a stage in life where the bed and I don't get along as well as we used to.  In bed, I'm a side-sleeper.  If I sleep on my back, I snore.  I mean, really snore; enough to wake myself up.  If I sleep on my stomach, I have dreams I'm smothering in mud or quicksand or can't get my T-shirt off and it's wrapped around my face.  I wake up to find my face in the pillow.  However, as indicated, I can avoid this trauma simply by sleeping on my side.

I usually start out on the right side, which is the same side as my bad shoulder.  I prop myself up with a few extra pillows so my arm won't go numb and stay lying on that side until the pain in my shoulder wakes me up.  Then I roll over to the left side, which is the side where my bad knee is on bottom.  I sleep until it hollers that it does not like having its sister lying on top of it and decides to go into a Charlie Horse.  After turning back and forth, from one side to the other, there comes a time, usually around two in the morning, where neither side will let me sleep.  At this point, I pull myself out of bed and head to the recliner, where I can tuck a throw over my legs and, lying back, leave most all this physical distress behind.  Ahhhh.   Bless you, recliner!   There I can usually sleep through until morning. 

I say usually because, I have a magic recliner.   On those occasions when it decides to work its magic, I might as well forget sleep because, for the rest of the night, I'm in for a magic carpet (or, I should say, recliner) ride.  The magic traditionally happens at about four a.m.  There I am, sleeping comfortably and painlessly, when, suddenly, I wake up with a complete story in my head.

Now, most writers will tell you that stories begin with an idea.  That idea can pretty much jump out of anywhere, at any time, in any place and, if it's a really good idea, it won't let you be until you sit down and starting fleshing out a story from it.  That can take weeks, months, even years.  Eventually, after a lot of rewriting and then more rewriting, it turns into a decent plot, engaging characters, a gut-wrenching conflict and fireworks at the end. 

Not many stories come out in one lump, with the characters, conflict and resolution already there in one, neat package.  But that is exactly what happens in my magic recliner!  It hands me a story complete with beginning, middle, and ending;  a story that only needs to be put on paper.  Having wakened me from a sound sleep, my recliner then settles back and goes to sleep itself, leaving me to spend the rest of the night in a half-awake, half-dreaming state, writing out the story in my mind.

This has happened multiple times since I purchased this particular recliner and put it in my bedroom.  The funny thing is, my husband, who also likes to spend a good part of the night sleeping in a recliner, has one just like it; bought on the same day at the same store and even in the same burgundy color.  But his chair never wakes him up with a complete story in his brain.

It's so unfair.  He and I are a writing team after all and, in my opinion, he should be getting an equal share of stories in his brain in the middle of the night.  But (sigh), I guess his chair's not magic.  Lucky man!  His muse works in the daytime, when muses are supposed to work.

I guess I should consider the chair's magic a blessing.  I never get writer's block.   There are always more stories in my head to write about than there is time in the day to write them.  Sometimes, they pile up like a publisher's slush pile and then they all start yelling at me to stop ignoring them and write them down!  I'm trying! I tell them, but they are most impatient.  What I do then is write the first page or so and put it in a file for later.  When I go back to work on it, that first page is all the prompt I need to remember the entire story.  What is really magical is that I usually change very little of the original story the chair has given me.  My chair knows what it's doing.

Our book, The Protector of Central Park, was born in my magic chair.  The chair woke me up at three a.m. and presented me with a story:  a squirrel and his friends live in Central Park where they are attacked by a gang of really mean alley cats who want to set up hunting grounds in the neighborhood.  The characters were, all there, alive inside my head, insisting I get up, go to the computer and start typing ... NOW!

I actually did and, by the time Terry poked his head into the office around eight a.m. to ask what I was so busily up to, I had the first two chapters written.  It only took me four weeks to finish the first draft (with some help from him on the battle sequences). 

A number of months later, we self-published the completed book.  In case you haven’t heard, it won the BIBA (Best Indie Book Award) in the Children's Book category for 2013!  I'm very proud of this story, but now, after some reflection, I feel we left something out.  We need to go back and give credit in the acknowledgements to the muse from whence it camemy magic recliner.  After all, the whole book was its idea.  All I did was write it down.

Since then, my recliner has worked its magic again and again; sometimes giving me stories for adults and sometimes for children; sometimes laying out short stories and sometimes novel-sized tales.  I figure I have a good three to five years' writing ahead of me, stuck up there in my brain, screaming to get onto the written page—all thanks to my magic chair.

Three of my gifts are to become a series, following up on the original Protector tale.  To anyone out there who has read and liked The Protector of Central Park and would like to read more of Jack Graytail's adventures, here's a notice: watch for The Rookie, The Blue-Eyed Thief and The Tree Dragon to turn up as soon as we can get them ready.  The chair also came up with a fairy story, which I hope will one day end up as a picture book.  And, if anybody is or knows an illustrator who loves drawing fairies, get in touch with me, will you?  I'm dying to get  Shhh!  I Have a Fairy! captured between covers.

If you are a writer, Terry and I would be very interested to know who or what your muse is.  We would love to have you reply to this blog and tell us all about it.  For now, however, since I'm still not getting the Z's I need at night for reasons previously mentioned, I'm going to click off the computer and go take a nap on the sofa.   

It hasn't waked me up once.  At least, not so far. Wish me luck.

 J.