I am Not A-MUSEd!

Happy Friday everyone. Casey here. If you have a moment, I’m also blogging at my site today about – I’m so Pretty – The Beautiful Blogger Award.

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?

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33 thoughts on “I am Not A-MUSEd!”

  1. Great post as usual Casey. I don’t have a muse, or if I do she hasn’t made herself known to me. The Doubt Monster on the other hand is always lurking nearby. It’s really neither here nor there, because I agree, we have to keep working at it, muse or no muse.

    1. Thanks Janna! I can’t tell you how relieved I was to read your comment. I almost didn’t write this post because I thought it was weird to admit that I had no muse. Whew. I am not alone!

  2. I think The Muse and Author Goddess are the same person. Doubt Monster–also female–I’d say is a completely separate entity. And wow, she’s such a bee-yatch.

    As for what inspires me…oh, it could be anything, but usually old maps do the trick. I don’t know why. I guess The Muse (and yes, she’s a diva) likes maps?

  3. Hi, Casey. Great blog.

    I’m sometimes accused of being “productive,” “obsessive,” and occasionally a “work-a-holic.” But the truth is I spend a third of my days sitting at a keyboard struggling to get something, anything onto the page. During those hours, I wish the “Muse” would find me and turn me into a genius or even a moderately talented first drafter. Unfortunately, she seems to be afraid of my wife so I have to settle for initial drafts that resemble nothing so much as fifth grade doodles. The other two thirds of my days are spent pushing multiple corrective drafts up the ready-for-publish hill where I can only hope beta readers and editors won’t roll them all the way back down again.

    So the answer to your question is no, I don’t have a Muse. And if by some chance I ever meet her…we’re going to have words.

    1. Hi Tim! Thanks for commenting (you are one of my favorite twitter friends!!). I hear you about sitting there staring at the page. Some days I feel like I’ll never get to the end. I hope you find a Muse. I look forward to hearing about the – Greaton vs. Muse – Smackdown!

      For the record – my money is on you coming out the victor!!

  4. I have no muse, despite attempts at bribery, cajoling and that goat I sacrificed a few years ago. But then again…I’m a Yankee! We don’t no stinkin’ muses!

  5. I have occasional visits from my muse, but they are seldom more than flights of fancy when she seems to have nothing better to do. She swoops in, drops a lovely nugget of inspiration or poetic prose, and off she goes. She’s certainly not dependable enough to be of any real help and it’s not like she’s at my beck and call, so I totally agree. She’s a diva and way to high maintenance to count on. When it comes down to it, the writing is all about blood, sweat, and tears, and she’s not having any of that. Thanks for the “amusing” post. Couldn’t resist:-)

    1. Haha! Great pun PJ! I agree, from what I’ve seen, the Muse is a royal pain in the butt. Good for inspiration and not much else. Which, if you look at mythology, that is what they did – inspire. I think, over time, us mortals have come to expect too much of them!

  6. Nice post and so on point! If only the doubt monster ate doubt the was Cookie monster devours cookies! I guess my muse is the too many ideas and not enough time. I need a muse to crack the whip! 🙂

  7. No muse here, either. She’s unreliable and never comes when I call her, even if I try to bribe her with wine, chocolate, fancy coffee drinks, or even those pictures of half-nekked men! I do have a little Jane Austen action figure I like to look at though. She was given to me by a friend, and I find that inspirational on many levels.

    1. I want to see the Jane Austen action figure! As to the Muse – Forget her! I’d eat the chocolate, drinking the wine while staring at the half naked men. She had her chance!

  8. Not to take anything away from the butt-in-chair/open-a-vein-and-bleed-on-the-page methods of writing, but I think “muse” is more loosely defined. The celebrity whose face is that of your Hero’s. The voice of your Heroine running dialogue through your head – another celeb? Even that mean jerk of a boss that inspires your story’s murderer. Do you use a specific mp3 to keep your head in the game? Does a real life incident trigger ideas for scenes or even books? Do you come home from a movie energized, ready to work? I don’t believe in waiting for The Muse to light on my shoulder and dictate scenes, either, but I do believe life and culture offer us opportunities to feel the strong emotions that drive a story, if only we’ll notice and put them on the page. Er, screen.

    1. Hi Rhonda. Something to chew on for sure. I have to say in my case – the voices in my head are my own. But I will consider that the ideas that creep up on me from nowhere – that could be the Muse (before the Doubt Monster sees her and scares her away!).

  9. No muse for me…maybe I should get one. 🙂 Unless naps can be considered a muse. I swear if I take a nap, I wake up knowing exactly where the scene is going.

    1. Okay. I like the concept of napping. I don’t nap too often, but I will plug in the iPod and let my mind wander when I’m not sure where to take a scene.

      Is anyone besides me still thinking about Fusco’s hot man muse?

      1. Whuh? What? Oh yeah. Still thinking about him and he looks shockingly like Joe Manganiello…

    1. I’m pretty sure I have no Muse at all. But then maybe she is so sneaky, I don’t notice her. Or she is at Fusco’s house hanging out with her half naked man Muse (who could blame her?).

  10. I’d like to see the word slobber-knocker used much more often! Definitely underused. My muse is an idea machine, but lazy when it comes to the actual work. No help at all then.

  11. Great post Casey, I have been looking for a muse. No matter where I look, in my closet, drawers, even the refrigerator, no muse. I don’t know how well I would do with one anyway? Sometimes though Rachmaninoff could take the place of one. With that, I can turn it off and on at whim. This post sure make me think. Thanks.

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