Saturday, July 24, 2010

What if You Don’t Have a Muse?

I’d heard about muses. In my mind, they were little feminine creatures who sat on a writer’s shoulder and whispered ideas and dialogue in her ear. When I started writing ten years ago, I didn’t have a muse. But I figured she would show up eventually. When she didn’t, I thought maybe only published authors had muses. But after I published and my muse still didn’t make an appearance, I finally had to admit that maybe I didn’t have a muse.

Maybe writing was always going to be hard work. Maybe it would always be me and the keyboard. Maybe I was just going to have to rely on myself.

It’s not that I don’t want a muse. I do. I wish she would come, sit on my shoulder, and inspire me. And it’s not that I don’t have muse-like moments. I write something and look at it later and think, did I write that? I don’t remember writing that. Did my muse show up in that moment or do I just have a short memory?

Not having a muse doesn’t play very well, I can tell you that. Do you know what questions an author receives most frequently? Where do you get your ideas? and What inspired you to write this book?

I don’t have splashy answers to these questions. If you’re interviewing me, I’m going to give you an answer. I’m probably going to make up something that sounds really good because no one wants to write a story about a writer who just works hard. And sometimes later I can think really hard and figure out where my inspiration must have come from. But again, I’m thinking hard. I’m not being inspired, really.

Honestly, where do I get my ideas? I sit down and think of something because I have to think of something. I have a contract and I have to produce a book, so I think of an idea and I write it. What inspires me? Well, I signed that contract and it’s legally binding. Oh, there’s also the matter of the bills that come every month.

See, not splashy. Muses are splashy. Inspiration in the form of six-foot vampires in your office or pirates leaning over your shoulder or a werewolf lounging in your recliner—that’s splashy. I’ll just continue to dog paddle. It’s boring, but it gets me where I need to go.


  1. Well, we made it, despite severe thunderstorms--lightning flashing all over, the cell right over the Pensacola airport, wind sheer so bad we couldn't land...and we were running out of fuel. So we had to fly to Mobile, AL, refuel and sit there for 3 1/2 hours before storms abated, then fly in before the next thunderstorm started up. We missed the wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner...and my daughter's luggage didn't make it. Today is the wedding, but I kept telling my son--think of it as an adventure. I'm sure there's a story in this somewhere. :) And it makes it all the more memorable. *sigh*

  2. Hey, whatever works for you. I don't always know where my ideas come from, either, but sometimes it's just easier to say they come from your muse!

  3. Shana - great blog. Don't worry, I don't have a muse either. I thought maybe it was my dog we just had put down since I'd always get ideas when I was out with him for the last pee break of the evening, but I've now decided that was the only time I had enough peace and quiet, and could quiet my mind to let the ideas flow through, not having to drown out all the other static that's flying around during the day.

    I'm with you, writing is hard work. One good thing about not having a muse is we don't have to share the credit.

  4. Everyone has a Muse. It's that part of your mind that talks to you about ideas, any ideas. Even the ones that tell you if what you fixed with duck tape is going to hold or not. That part of the mind that argues with you but is not to be confused with conscience.
    Giggles and Guns

  5. I wish I thought I had a muse.

    Sometimes, I think I must have somebody else's. You know, like she gives me a great idea for a story or a scene, and so I try writing it, and it turns out not to have anything to do with the story I'm writing.

    I wonder if what happened is that the muse dropped the ideas off at the wrong house and some other poor writer is staring at a blank screen, tearing her hair out, because nothing will come.

    Ideas come--no doubt about that--but inspiration? Maybe. Maybe not.

  6. If you don't have a muse, make one up. That's what we writers do. Create fiction. How about a vampire/werewolf/pirate? She'll have stories to tell. Or at least that's what you can say when someone asks where your inspiration comes from.

    I won't have internet access for a while, so I'll be scarce.

    Terry- what a wild tale! I'm glad you're safe. You were probably hoping for LESS of an adventure, I'm assuming.

  7. Terry, sounds like you ran into Bonnie. I hope the rest of the wedding is uneventful.

    Oh, Mary Margret, I know just what you mean about having someone else's muse. I can't tell you how many stories I've started and then realized they wouldn't work at all--not for me anyway.

  8. I tend to agree with Mary. A muse isn't necessarily an actual "Muse" in the true Greek mythology sense, but there is something rather magical about taking ideas that come from who knows where and turning them into a story. Yes, it is work, hard work, but the vast majority of the population cannot do it no matter how hard they may try. I think that has to mean there is something muse-like about it. MHO

    But, like Cheryl said, however it works for an individual writer is fine and it can be called anything you want! Just keep the ideas flowing, Shana!!