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.