Tiyana’s recently wrote a post about her relationship with her muse, and it made me laugh, and also think.
To the ancient Greek’s the muses were goddess that inspired music and the creative arts (always female). Their number and talents were specific, for example, Calliope was considered the muse of epic poetry, and Thalia the muse of comedy.
Related, is the idea of ‘genius’. In the original roman context, genius was spirit meant to guide a person. The root of the verb came from the Latin word ‘to produce, to create’. So, every person was born with a ‘genius’. Genius was not something exclusive or accessible only to great minds, but everyone.
The writer Elizabeth Gilbert conducted a TED talk about genius and nurturing creativity, and speaks about how to tap into the genius we all have been granted. It’s very similar to the idea of a muse. She goes on to say that thinking of genius as an external, helpful, force, lessens the pressure we put on ourselves to produce, therefore freeing up the mind to be more creative. It’s a fun listen if you have the time.
Some writers personify/externalize their muses. In his book ‘On Writing’ Stephen King described his muse as a shady character, that spends all his time in the basement, drinking beer, and smoking cigars, not all that helpful to his creative process. Others do not personify, and don’t need to, which is also fine.
To me? I find it helpful to think of the muse as a person, the personification of my subconscious process, a mediator – go between – that helps me dig out ideas from the inner well, and bring awareness to them. It is also an exercise in attentiveness. If I pay attention, listen, and expect, ideas from outside of me, then usually inspiration does come: a sentence in a newspaper will set it off, or a blog post, or just a photo.
The more the muse and I work together, the easier it gets, but he hasn’t always been helpful. Up till now, the relationship’s been rocky and full of long absences. However, we hashed out a routine with the last novel that seems to be working for both of us. I show up to work, and he does too (most days). It makes things easier having faith that the ideas will come. In general, he’s also more enthusiastic about the writing process than I am. There are days I have to hold him back, and tell him I need a break because I can’t keep up. He’s got way too much energy. I suspect he drinks far too much coffee (he’s disgustingly chipper in the morning’s, whereas I am a sloth).
Do you personify your muse? If so, what’s she/he like? Helpful or not?