Say the word muse and it means different things to different people. To an English teacher, it’s a verb that means: to think, dream, ponder or contemplate. Or it could bring to mind images of the nine gals from Greek mythology. And the word museum is derived from muse. There is even a band called Muse.
Say it to a writer and you’ll hear about a fully fledged being. You know who I mean - The Muse. The supposed source of inspiration. The force that helps us write.
Originally, the Muse was said to be the mouth-piece of the artist, who would call upon the Muses (the aforementioned nine) to aid them in their artistic endeavors. Over time, at least in the writing world, the Muse has developed a life of her own (yes, I prefer to think of the Muse as a female).
Before I started writing, I used to associate a Muse with a lover. A Muse was standard issue for all great artists. They had mistresses whom they claimed “inspired” them. I think, for some of these people, it was an excuse to mess around on their spouses.
When I hear writers talk about the Muse, I often wonder what they really mean. Is the Muse controlling your story or is he or she just there to inspire writing?
I have to confess, I don’t have a Muse. At least not one I’ve noticed. I’ve already got a Doubt Monster and Author Goddess rattling around upstairs. Maybe I don’t have room for anyone else in the old noggin??
I frequently read writer’s blogs and have learned all kinds of interesting things about her.
- My Muse isn’t cooperating with me today (or this week, month or year – take your pick). I can’t write a thing without her.
- My Muse is fussy and won’t appear unless I drink coffee, consume the highest grade chocolate, and have scented candles burning.
- My Muse is super productive and won’t leave me alone. She’s dumping a hundred ideas into my head and I can’t work on them all.
- My Muse wants me to write an epic about shape-shifting sheep herders in Nepal, but I know I won’t be able to sell it.
Honestly, she sounds like a complete diva. And as writers, we should not sit around waiting for her to grace us with her presence. It’s not like she corporeal. She can’t actually type your manuscript for you. So, it’s up to you to do all the heavy lifting.
Writing is work. Some days (or weeks or months), it’s a knock-down, drag-out slobberknocker. And no matter what you do, inspiration won’t come. It happens. And will continue to happen. That’s just how it is for us creative folk. Kind of like, the only way to lose weight is to cut back on calories and move more. The same thing holds true for writing. The only cure is to keep at it.
If you want to give the Muse credit for your creativity, by all means do so. I’m sure she would appreciate it. Along with chocolate, fine wine and a foot massage.
As for me, I seriously suspect the Doubt Monster ate my Muse. Or the Author Goddess kicked her butt because there can only be one diva in my brain.
What about you? Do you have a Muse? Does she (or he) have a personality of their own? What inspires you to work?