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WHAT’S THE MUSE, ANYWAY?

November 21, 2018

I had an interesting conversation the other night at the writer’s group meeting. I got there relatively early. I mean relatively, because I’ve been working overtime and I was later than usual. Yet to my surprise, our guest speaker beat me there and we were alone in the room. We’ve met before and got to talking about writing (go figure!). During the conversation, he mentioned that he doesn’t have a muse. If I got what he said right, he doesn’t believe in the muse. To him, it’s an excuse not to write. It’s a made up “flowery” thing that says if you’re not in the “zone,” you just can’t make your story happen.

I asked him what he does for inspiration. He takes the mercenary approach and writes for money. He writes for whatever is hot, to make money. If someone asks him to write something, he does. No muse, he just does it. To me, this was kind of like technical writing.

INTERESTING OUTLOOK

I had to ask if he even enjoyed writing, and his response, was “of course.” He went on to explain that he just focuses on what makes money.

While I admire his tenacity and drive, my motivations are different. I certainly don’t fault him for it. In fact, I believe that’s pretty much the same philosophy of Lee Child. Lee writes the Jack Reacher series and they’re great. He seems to love what he does, but he writes strictly for commercial purposes, from what I’ve read about him.

EVERYONE HAS THEIR REASONS

We’re all doing this writing thing for a reason. Whether it’s strictly artistic, for money or a bit of both, we’re still doing it.

I’m a bit of both, though I can’t deny my artistic side. Whether anyone agrees with that, is up to my readers.

How about you?

SO, WHAT’S A MUSE, ANYWAY?

Is the muse your inspiration to sit down and write?

Is it just something to blame writer’s block on when you can’t get it done?

I can only speak from my personal experience.

Muse is inspiration, the drive to create, at least to me. It’s that deep well within my soul that my ideas spring from. I don’t derive it from a person, like some infamous movie makers of late. It’s nothing physical. It’s, to put it blunt, my imagination. It’s always with me. It has been since the fifties with the polka-dot sewer back in kindergarten in Lakewood, California. Probably before that, but I just didn’t have a name for it. It’s only since 1995 that I finally had a true outlet (writing) to channel it.

Now, going back to the guest speaker. He’s a mercenary writer. He writes for trends. He writes for what’s hot, based on the market or what his publisher wants him to write. He doesn’t guess what’s going to be hot or write to temporary hot items that’ll die off by publication time. He writes to stuff that stays hot (we went over that too).

As I said above, he scoffed at the idea of a muse and said that was just a phony excuse to blame for writer’s block. If he needs to write something, he just sits down and writes it. Case closed (or words to that effect). He alluded to another famous writer, who’s name I didn’t catch, that touted that philosophy.

DO WE NEED A MUSE?

Do we need a muse? As I’ve defined it, it’s inspiration.

If you want to get all artsy fartsy about it, some of you maybe DO need a muse to create your art.

I call it my muse when maybe all I’m really talking about is my imagination. Plain and simple.

Why?

When I sit down to write, I get the inspiration (muse?) for a story. So, now I figure A and B beforehand. That may take a few minutes to a few days. Once that’s done, I start writing and it all just falls into place. Whether it’s muse, imagination or channeling, it’s out of my hands. It just happens and I no longer worry about it. I don’t get stuck, I don’t fret about the next step. I don’t freak out because I can’t figure the plot twist or whether character A is violating something to do with character B.

I just write. Simple as that. I don’t have a person, object, place or whatever to inspire me. It comes from within.

I’m also not a mercenary writer, so I don’t get orders from a publisher to “write this,” or “write that.” I have been in those type situations, or have put myself in them before. I can do it, but I much prefer not to.

Do you let the thing like muse get in your way? Do you let the IDEA of the muse get in your way?

Do you let writer’s block, imaginary or otherwise (like the story), bog you down?

Is it just excuses, as this writer said it was?

SUMMARY

The muse is a nice flowery, literary term, one I’ve used freely and liberally throughout this series of articles. Maybe what I’ve meant all along is something that has never failed me because it’s never got in the way of me getting the job done. Inspiration and drive.

Happy writing!

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