Vail Daily column: When the Muse won’t let go |

Vail Daily column: When the Muse won’t let go

Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

Out of nowhere, a novel began to burn in me. Don’t ask me where it came from. I have no idea.

I wrote a couple of chapters while the fever ran its course, then quit as more urgent matters took over. A free-fall downturn in the economy. And oh boy, a new role — the editor becomes the publisher just when things really turn to …

The paper’s rise from those ashes proved no less daunting, and the day job never backed off. In the boom, it turns out, we only thought we worked hard.

Still, those flames lapped. But I don’t have time, I don’t write fiction, I don’t have the talent. Leave me alone.

No such luck. Burning, burning, those twin sicknesses obsession and compulsion.

Finally I started getting up at 5:30 a.m. to throw water on this fire, ignoring the little devil who liked his sleep and grumbled how I was wasting my time since I was no good anyway.

Meet Mr. Ego, who hates new challenges every bit as he’s smitten with little successes after the fact. Oh, and comfort. He craves comfort most of all.

I shook him off to slake the Muse who lit this fire. I pecked at the story in bursts. The thing infected my reading, my thinking, my conversations, my daydreams. And it became … fun? Well, in the way trail running evolves from an exercise in pure pain to something you can’t skip.

Then I finished. Wow. High fives with the family. A beer. OK, two. Then back to the beginning for the hard part. Rewrite. The pros will tell you they don’t write books so much as rewrite and rewrite and rewrite them.

What’s the story about? Don’t ask me. I’m only the writer, the medium through which this tale poured. A tool of the Muse. Only she knows, really.

But I’ll try:

It’s about alien abduction as the Earth faces climate change and the fast-approaching A.I. singularity, when machines become self-aware and far smarter than humanity.

It’s about our planet now, 30 years from now and a world 6,000 years more advanced than ours.

It’s about a middle-aged man from Colorado and a village girl from the Hindu Kush. It’s about a shaman who tracks the husband she thought had died to the other side of the universe. A forensic anthropologist who solves the Zodiac murders in her spare time. A Yankees shortstop whose career ends with the play that wins a World Series and finds himself wandering the desert southwest, alone. A Pashtun warrior and smuggler who rescues a Kalasha girl from being raped.

It’s about a sentient machine that’s part biological and a hominid that is part machine. It’s about science and other realms of consciousness, captivity, escape, relationships, faith, adventure.

It’s about how real life and true love can be stranger than science fiction.

All in the guise of a good yarn. Well, I hope it’s a good yarn. In truth, I’ve stuffed the sack too full. The story is too weird, too ambitious, too all over the place for publication. I’ve had too much fun.

So I’d be stunned if it published, the cherry on top. There’s a line about every journalist having a novel in them, and that’s where it ought to stay.

But I couldn’t not write this story. And I got so much from the research, the thinking, the dreaming and this great, wild ride with the Muse.

I’ll miss her when she moves on and the coals cool behind her, the fire quenched and me pining for her return.

Ah, as one of the literary giants liked to write, so it goes.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at or 970-748-2920.

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