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Muse Says What?

May 24, 2010

This week we’re going to be blogging about muse and inspiration. We’ve got guest blogger Cheryl K. Tardif joining us on Wednesday and vampire-reviewer extraordinaire, Bertena Varney, on Friday. Come join us this week for a fun-filled line up and news about our next contest.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any length of time has certainly seen me talk about my newness to this whole writing shtick.  When I first started conversing online with other writers, I met some that referred to their muse like it was another person:

“My muse took over and I had a back seat to whatever flowed on the page.”

“No matter what I tried, my muse was kicking and screaming, determined the scene would go this way.”

“My muse has been silent for a while.”

I scratched my head for a bit trying to piece this stuff together. Were they making it sound like their muse was a separate personality inside their head, or was I crazy? I seriously didn’t get it.

Being a no-nonsense type of science geeky-chick, I thought perhaps they were being slightly eccentric. Hey, and my family is from The South. I know eccentric. I’m not sure whom it was that finally explained to me that it meant a person’s imagination.

And even then I didn’t quite get it. I watched a movie ages ago where a painter called an actress in the film, Sharon Stone, his muse. If she was his muse then what was in his head? In that instance they meant she was his inspiration.

Recently, I had an interview where I was asked who or what inspires me to write. I thought of that movie and I figured, well, no one. I have lots of people who encourage me, but no one person I can point to and say they inspire me to write.

Sure, I get ideas everywhere. How can one look around their immediate world and not find ideas for characters, setting, and possible story ideas?

This writing gig is pretty solitary. No one makes me write but me. I think some of us have conversations in our head when we may be working on dialogue for too long and we then name that our muse. I’m not sure.

I don’t refer to my inner thoughts and plotting as my muse. It’s just me. I don’t have an idea of how I want the story to go and then claim the characters made me write it another way. Um, hello? It’s in my head. You can damn well bet that is one place things are going to go exactly like I want.

If I haven’t built the scene up to make the characters actions plausible to go as I envisioned, then I need to re-work the scene until it flows the way I planned it. Maybe it’s my art background. Maybe because my imagination is so fully a part of my everyday life— from what I cook, how I decorate, to how I plan out a party— that perhaps I don’t sense the separation as distinctly as some writers do.

Or perhaps I don’t feel the need to make a part of myself a third person and talk about them like they’re real. I have so many ideas I often find it hard to sleep at night. But that’s been most of my life, not just when I started writing.

What about you? Do any of you feel the same why I do about this Muse business or do you have some alter ego talking to you inside your head? Please share, I’d love to know.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. S. P. Hendrick permalink
    May 24, 2010 11:45 am

    To paraphrase a Heinlien title “The Muse is a Harsh Mistress” . She gets me up at 4 AM or sends me to bed at 2 AM, sometimes both, dictating to me faster than I can type coherently. I will argue with her and tell her the characters cannot do something, and then get told to shut up and continue taking dictation. And then two books later I find She has set up a powerful sub-plot the likes of which I could never have dreamed, nor would I have dreamed, because at the time I was writing one book only, not a series.

    She, or they (the characters) had other ideas. I am on book 5 of this series and working out book 2 of a related series).

  2. May 24, 2010 2:49 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and for the comment S.P.! I’m sure there are a lot of writers out there who think exactly like you do and perhaps I’m the one who needs to get my head in the game with this muse business 😉

    And it sounds like she’s not steering you wrong!

  3. May 24, 2010 6:46 pm

    Hi, C.J. For me, the writing is almost done away from pen and paper/keyboard. Between writing sessions, I use every quiet moment to allow my mind to go where it wants to. I will think to myself: “Okay, this is where we left off; where are we headed?” It is then that the imagination, muse, whatever begins to reveal the story to me. Perhaps the story has already been written, and, like some buried diamond, I simply have to dig until it is revealed completely. Then, when next I sit at the keyboard, I begin to write down all that I “saw” during those creative moments. Somehow or another the story simply writes itself.
    Thanks for asking.

    • May 24, 2010 8:33 pm

      I understand completely, James. And thanks for sharing!

      I also picture scenes in my mind and play them out before I write them down. But sometimes it’s easier because I’ve outlined loosely and have a general idea of where the next scene is going to “direct” my players the way I need them to go.

  4. May 26, 2010 1:40 am

    Hey C.J.,

    I can’t wait til tomorrow when I get to be a guest on your blog. Or maybe my muse does. 😉

    For me, “my muse” is synonymous with “my imagination”, moreso than an imaginary other person or entity.

    As you’ll read in my post tomorrow…

    Your muse is that inner voice that speaks to you in dreams or thoughts, that helps you see a potential plot, even in the simple things.

    See you in the morning. 🙂

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
    bestselling Canadian author

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