All the writers I hang out with have a muse of sorts. When writers describe their muse it ranges from a distinct presence to a form of inspiration or internal guidance. Some relay a sense of communication from within and others that it is somehow greater than them and more connected to something universal.
No matter what form they take, writers agree Muses are all demanding and moody task masters.
I experience my muse as a sensation. We communicate through a link, a golden thread connected to my belly that sinks deep down until it gets to very dark waters and dangles into it. Communications come as a swell that travels through the thread and back into my gut, creating a kind of fullness that needs to be transmuted into pictures, words and feelings which then take shape on the page as characters and story. By the time they are taking shape on the page they are quite formed. I don’t consciously create and ‘make up’ the characters and dynamics. I also don’t feel that I ‘make up’ the story, rather that they are all given to me. My job is to express it and if I fail to write it, someone else will.
Having said that, I do think there is a ‘simpatico’ between my personal life themes and the stories I am given. As if by the very fact I have the resonance of those themes I call to me stories with a similar vibration and frequency, if that makes sense.
I’m a pretty amicable sort but I regularly manage to upset my muses. For something so anciently archetypal they are pretty thin skinned, or maybe just inflexible task masters. Generally this ‘falling-out’ happens when I want to take the lead in the story and say something like “no, no we aren’t going to go that way, this is much more interesting… or this is closer to genre” well they dig their heels in and the swell stops and that great idea I had sucks and the swell that feeds me is gone. Eventually I head back to that awful idea the muses’ had and start it up again and wham, in comes the swell. I feel like I’m the typewriter and they are the fingers…
I asked some writer buddies to express some of their experiences and grumbles about their muse.
So, when I started writing I didn’t realize I was getting into a relationship with this motherfucker called Muse, and I say that with affection. Well, some affection. You see my muse and I have been at war since August last year. Mother. Fucker. Just once I’d like my muse to be easy but he/she never has.
Most of the time I think of my muse as a he—there is an abruptness to him, he comes when he comes and when he wants, he stays away. There is no cajoling him, no bartering, no demanding. It’s his rules. When he does show up, he likes to express himself in visuals, like watching a movie scene with the sound off but I can feel the characters emotions—joy, lust, pain, as if I waked in their skin, living inside them. Sometimes my muse does talk, not a voice but still in visuals. I see the words, like white lines on black, just dialogue with nothing to anchor it to a scene or place in the book. All of what my muse gives me is just seconds. Flashes. Random. A spark because he really has no interest in doing the heavy lifting, getting involved in the writing. He feeds me crumbs and the writer in me tries to fill up on it. And I can’t. The truth is writing is craft and mastery; the greats have unwavering discipline and my muse … my muse is all whim. He has moved on before I can even sketch what he’s shown me. Before I finish the book. Before I even germinate the story—the crumbs in my mouth turning to ash.
When I started writing I thought my muse and I were dancing. I didn’t see that we were not courting, or the battleground we were drawing. I didn’t understand that my muse is not my lover—someone I could call with a touch of my hand or still with my company. In some ways my muse will always resist. Always be an adversary. Always be a wonderfully, wild thing.
You can find more about Nicci HERE. She writes HOT BDSM and is working on a Anne Rice type Vampire series that I gobble up when ever she shares scenes of.Follow her on Tumblr if you like to blush while checking your phone.
Cassandra L Shaw
My muse as writers call what gives them story, has lived inside my head, taking me to wild worlds all my life. A mysterious creature, she cannot be found at a whim. She has no address, no phone number, no Facebook account or email.
She’s one of those friends who float in and out of your life when it suits them. The crazy friend who is fun and wild, and a tad whimsical, a little dark inside. She’s that friend who plants a goofy smile on your face and leaves your heart fuller as they waltz out the door, leaving you wondering or in this case—writing, until they once more return.
My fey mysterious friend often arrives when I’m writing a different story, urging me to change what I’m writing. She’s the one that whispers in my ear, no don’t write that, write this.
She throws open my door and waltzes in, wafting scents and images of other worlds.
It’s the images I write from. Pictures and flashes of scenes that play in my mind – as she urges me, write this down right now.
She’s like your favourite song, dragging you back to the dance floor even though you have blisters on your feet, or need to go home—or finish the story you’re writing.
She’s the reason I have several dozen partially written stories, just to get her images out of my head, the ideas down. But after messing up my routine, showing me alternative tales I try to ignore, she leaves.
I rarely disagree with her ways, though sometimes I have to dilute her dark side. I do however consider that a little dark makes the light seem brighter.
Cassandra Shaw writes Urban Fantasy, Shifters and Time-slip Romance. I love her writers voice, its versatile and strong. You can find more about Cassandra HERE.
Cathrine Winther Poetess and dark, dark writer shared this on troublesome Muses.
This is a very personal, reflective piece about my process with my muse. It is not a generalization to how other people experience writing or their muse.
My muse is a bastard. I love him but he is a bastard. That said, I wouldn’t change a thing about him. He is what he is and he does what he does very well. He feeds my creative drive. However, he largely does it on his own terms and in his own time.
I am not someone who sits around waiting for inspiration to strike. I write when I want to write, and if I have done the hard work, inspiration and my muse usually turn up. However, I am often writing blind. I tend to have a vague idea of where I am headed but many vital details are hidden from me until the moment comes that I have to write the details of that particular scene or character. This would be fine except for the fact that I co-write a lot of my books. My co-author (Leon) places a lot of trust in me that I will pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute when we write. In our latest novel I had to assure Leon that the villain of our piece would be fully fleshed out and present when it came time for me to write him… even though I had no idea who he was or what he was like right up until the day came and I had to put pen to paper. But, true to form, my muse pulled through and Malick, our villain hit the page running.
However, probably my longest ongoing ‘dispute’ with my muse is power. My muse doesn’t do things by halves. He loves writing very dark, powerful, dominant males. Although I value all characters equally, for me, there is something far more intense happening when I write these edgier characters. While this is exciting it is also incredibly mentally and physically draining. I tend to compare it to the idea of sprinting for two hours instead of slow jogging for two hours. After writing one of my typically dark and dominant males for two hours I feel like I have just done a two-hour sprint. As an ex, semi-pro sprinter I can confirm that sprinting for two hours is just about impossible.
Working through this issue is an ongoing, very conscious compromise between my muse and myself. I find it all too easy to sit down and start writing and before I know it, two hours have gone by and I have spent the whole time in the headspace of a dark, dominant male. More recently I have found ways to manage this better through routine and goal setting, but it is a battle because I am fighting instinct and emotion to keep my muse in check and take care of myself and my stamina. And in short, my muse is quite wild and doesn’t want to be controlled. Part of me loves that about him, the other part of me just rolls my eyes… Just like an old married couple.
You can find more about Cat HERE. I love her pomegranate banner image, the seeds that kept Persephone in the underworld with Hades.