The Muse

I’m really quite surprised I haven’t done a post on this topic before because I talk about it a lot. I may have mentioned the muse in other posts, but today I’ve decided to dedicate an entire post to the subject. Actually, I had the idea last night but was too out of it to do anything. That’s my life these days. Either I’m in extreme pain, or I’m too loopy to care, which means I can’t write much of anything. My lack of writing has nothing to do with a muse, and I’m certain a story will come from my pain eventually. However, my friend Pauline Campos did put up a post today regarding the muse because we, along with a few others, discussed it last night. The reason for that discussion is the following quote that my friend Crystal Posey has up on her blog:

“Every time I hear writers talk about ‘the muse,’ I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job.” –Nora Roberts RWA 2009

I have to agree with Nora Roberts here. It is a job. The discussion last night went into the fact that “it’s not a job until it pays me.” I have to disagree with that. I think it’s like starting your own business. You have to put in a lot of hours before you’ll get paid for the work. Writers have a lot to learn about writing during the process, just like you learn how to do your job when you first start. There’s a lot of practice and study involved. And then we have to learn how to write a query letter and a synopsis, both of which are completely different from writing a novel, and both of which are a dreadful process in my mind. There are books on writing to read, workshops and conferences to attend, and also learning how to critique properly so your writing group doesn’t have you drawn and quartered. Stephen King once said something along the lines of you have to write a million words before you’re any good at it. Wise words, I think, and correct. Writers never stop learning. I’ve watched my writing improve greatly over the years, and I’m somewhere close to that one million words now, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop learning at any given point. Every day I learn something new in the world of writing, and I love it.

I “hear” writers talk about their “muse” all day on Twitter. “The muse isn’t talking…” or “The muse won’t shut up.” That muse is a fickle bitch, isn’t she? This tells me that these writers sit around waiting for their inspiration, waiting for the story to talk, waiting for the muse to get out of her bad mood or whatever, before they can write a single word on the page. I say bullshit to that. I had a muse once. I killed the bitch because she was a waste of my time. Really, I just learned how to write without her. Inspiration has nothing to do with a muse whispering in your ear, but then, some would say that Inspiration IS a Muse. I’ve stated before that Life is my inspiration. It could be anything I experience. For instance, I walked into my bedroom last night and a scene with dialog started in my mind. It’s a scene from my second demon hunter book, Dawn of Life. There was Lucius, lying on the bed in all his yummy goodness. A nice clear image, like watching a movie, that came out of nowhere. Perfectly clear dialog to the point that I could hear his voice. It makes me sound schizophrenic, but I’ve already discussed writers and their schizophrenia in my post on The Fourth Wall. When I returned to my laptop, I wrote the short scene down. I don’t know if I’ll ever use it, but it’s there in the file. I have several notebooks and folders jammed with ideas like this that come in a constant barrage of sparks. Some light up my mind while others fizzle out, but I write them all down because I never know when I’ll need one of them. On my nightstand, there is a book of the week I’m reading, a journal, a small notebook that is nearly full, a composition notebook, and I usually bring my large spiral-bound notebook to bed with me. The large notebook has everything in it, from my To Do list to poetry to ideas to actual scenes for whatever book. In essence, it wasn’t a Muse’s voice I heard whispering in my ear last night when I walked into the room. I heard Lucius, and if that makes him my muse, then every single character I’ve ever written down is a muse as well. That’s a lot of damn muses, if you ask me. I have several characters across many books. And no offense to them, but I’m not going to wait around for them to start talking. They’re going to talk when I need them to talk.

In case it’s not clear, I don’t believe in muses. To me, s/he is just an excuse for not writing, and I think that you can write no matter the content. If I can’t seem to work on a story, I write a blog like I’m doing now. Or maybe I’ll write a poem instead. Either way, I’m writing something. Usually, I have two or three WIPs open and I’ll jump from one to the other to see which one feels like “talking.” That’s mainly because I am not a plotter. I don’t work from an outline, or at least, it’s very rare when I do. Even then, I usually abandon the outline at some point. The only thing that has ever kept me from writing is illness or extreme pain. Life does get in the way sometimes, interrupting the flow of words, but if you look close, I’m sure you’ll find some of what happens can be put to use in a story or two. You write what you know, right? Exactly, and that’s where Nemesis came from last year.

I know there are priorities, such as family and that dreaded thing called reality, but reality has a time and a place. I don’t have the luxury of children, and my priorities are minimal, but I do keep myself tethered to the really real world so I don’t lose my mind. However, I always have that one foot in the door of my imagination because that’s where the ideas come from, and if I allow that door to close, they might stop flowing. I can’t allow that to happen because I am a writer. It is my job. It may not pay just yet, but someday soon, it will.

And when it does, I’ll still stand here and tell you that there’s no such thing as a Muse.

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9 thoughts on “The Muse

  1. It pains me to think that the concept of 'Muse' is dying as much as belief in a God, yet somehow fitting. I suppose all the tender times when he or she whispered delicately in your ear can be accredited your own mind, but who is to say where ideas come from? Your Muse is what you make it, whether a scapegoat or an accomplice in your affair with the words, it is still the means to an end. A protection. An inspiration. The magic of life, breathed into formless void to make something very bright and real. Salut.M

  2. Awesome. Now I may have to go and write a serious blog post, sans snark, about how reporters turned writers can't rely on a muse becbecause a deadline is always looming. 😉 I *am* my own muse, just as you are your own. Self-discipline is another topic entirely, but totally related. And that, my friend, is my problem. My muse? Yeah, she's just waiting for *me* to get my ass in gear.

  3. i used to like the ideas of muses, i mean one of my online handles is muse-hick after all, but i think it attends a certain laziness sometimes.i don't sit there on my arse waiting for some glowing being to come in through my window and hand me the key to my manuscript.the ones who enthuse about muses are often the same people who bitch about block – both of them are useless ideas when they are basically the result of someone who has no routine or practice regarding their work.if you can't write go read or do something. writing muscles need to be worked and if you have to keep taking breaks inbetween it means you're not very healthy in that regard and need some exercise.i don't use outlines either when writing as they interrupt my flow, but I write something always and every day get something done – if it feels like you crapped in heart of your book you can get valuable experience the next day by working on your editing skills.

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