Mar 22

Musing on Muses

A lot of writers like to complain that their muse has abandoned them. In fact I’m just as guilty of this as any other writer is. We like to pretend the muse is something that tiptoes around us massaging our shoulders and telling us what to write, and when we can’t be bothered writing or ‘haven’t got the time’ we like to wonder why our muse has left us.

But I know the truth; I know where your muse has been hiding. All those times you’ve been left with no inspiration or you’ve been too tired, or too frustrated to write, I know where she lurks.

You want to know where your muse is? You really, really want to know? Ok then, lean in close and I’ll whisper to you in a conspirational manner…

…Your muse is hidden in the end of your pen; she only comes out to play when you start scribbling words down on paper.

The truth is she never leaves you – partly because she’s a fictional concept, a fairytale writers tell themselves to make it all better when they ‘can’t possibly write’ – but mostly because your muse is a part of YOU.

I’m sorry to say your muse isn’t one of the nine daughters of Zeus, she doesn’t scamper behind you while you sit at your desk and whisper ideas into your ears, which is a shame because the thought a scantily clad Greek goddess tiptoeing around my office isn’t an entirely unpleasant concept.

Instead your muse is just another part of your brain – halfway between imagination and inspiration. The only way to stoke the fire of that part of your mind is to write, even if you don’t ‘feel’ like writing.

I know, it’s hard *waahh, I don’t want to write, I just want to complain I’m not writing* (before the hate mail arrives I’d like to point out I’m well aware I’m more guilty of this than most) but you have to get over that by grabbing a pad and pen and WRITING.

Once you’ve done some writing and you feel like stopping, write some more! Then when you can’t stand to write anymore, write a little bit more! Finally when you hate the words on the page and you think you’ll never make it as a writer…you guessed it MORE WRITING. For those of you that don’t understand carrying on when you think your work is terrible I’d like to leave you with a quote from an author:

“My work dissatisfies me extremely,” he wrote to a correspondent, “& of late I have destroyed much more than I have saved.”

You might think the above writer is being a little melodramatic, or you may think they’re right. Maybe their writing is terrible; maybe they should have given up…but if they did then the genre I love and cherish would be a pale shadow of itself. You see, the above author is HP Lovecraft, the grandfather of horror writing. This man inspired millions and continues to do so 75 years after his death!

Now, do you think sitting around complaining your muse has abandoned you is going to do a damn thing for your writing? Do you? Really?

4 comments

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  1. I like the theory that muses live on the end of a pen – think you might have something there!

    • liz young on March 22, 2012 at 17:54
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    Who invented the idea of a muse anyway? Was it perhaps Chaucer’s answer to an inky-fingered reporter saying, “Now, Mr Chaucer, I am sure my readers would love to know where your inspiration comes from.”

  2. Hi Steven, you have a great layout to your site here! Looking forward to your A-Z challenge.

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.
    Duncan In Kuantan

  3. Great post, Steven! I believe there’s no such thing as a muse (or writer’s block), just creativity used the wrong way, in making up excuses instead of fiction, in conjuring up insurmountable circumstances instead of intricate plots. We’re all guilty of lying to ourselves sometimes, there’s no shame in admitting it. What matters, though, is snapping out of it fast and getting back to writing!
    Great blog you’ve got here. I just subscribed, so I’ll be back to read some more. Have fun with the #atozchallenge this month! I’m participating too (first time) and it’s very exciting. 🙂

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