Writing–Musing on Muses

Clio, muse of history, holding writing tablets...

I don’t have a muse.

Other writers talk about having muses. Their muses abandon them and show up in the middle of the night, begging for attention. They show up with nothing but a blank page or they leave them with pages and pages of finished work.

But I don’t have a muse.

I think it’s a neat idea. Like a little, disagreeable fairy that helps channel your creativity. It’s something to blame on the bad days and something to champion on the good days. It makes writing feel a little less lonely to know that there’s this little writing devil with a halo sitting on your shoulder.

But I still don’t have one.

I show up and I write. Some days go better than others, but in the end, it’s just me.

This doesn’t make me any better because I don’t believe in invisible helpers. In fact, I feel a little deficient because I don’t have one. Call me a little jealous. I’d like a little sprite to discuss things with on my writing journeys.

Instead of muses, I just have characters. Some are persistent little things that won’t leave me alone. And I do talk to my characters a lot. I ask them questions and hope they’ll cooperate and answer them. That’s how I develop the stories sometimes. I just sit back, look that character straight in the eye, and ask them, “What gives?”

Okay, all of this takes place in my mind (I save the talking to myself for hashing out dialogue to make sure it sounds real). Sometimes those interviews go well. Sometimes I find out the characters just want to exist and they really don’t want to do anything of interest.

I suppose talking to my characters is the closest I’ll ever get to having a muse. They show up, kind of like a muse does, and they help me write their stories. Sometimes they’re more helpful than other times. Sometimes they can be really annoying pricks.

But in the end, when it comes to the actual work, they step back and let me put fingers to keys and pen to paper. When it comes to the actual work, it’s all on me. I’ve got no muse to bail me out there.

Which is a shame. Some days, I could use it.

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