I wrote ages ago about muses and how I didn’t have one. However, I recently realized that I do have a muse. I have several of them, in fact. It’s just they’re not what I thought they’d be.
A muse, according to the dictionary, is “a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist”. I have always interpreted this to be more of the figurative meaning, an imaginary being that sprinkles creative dust on my head, which infiltrates my brain and gives me ideas. And in that respect, I never had a muse. I was never blessed in such a fashion.
As it turns out, though, I have been blessed with multiple muses over the years. I just didn’t realize it at the time. I was looking for fairies when what I got was people, places, and things.
My muses are concrete nouns.
For example, there’s a tree across the street in my neighbor’s yard. I don’t know what kind it is. It’s just big and it’s been there for years and it’s very pretty in the fall, but the wind strips its leaves pretty quickly. It’s usually bare by Halloween.
That tree has been in several of my stories and at least two of those stories came from ideas I got from that tree, from wanting to write about it. It was a muse.
There are places that I’ve used the same way. The library I work at has popped up in my stories long before I started working there. I wouldn’t be writing Defending The L right now if the library hadn’t inspired the story. The local lake, the house across the street, the zombie car wash, all inspired stories. They were muses.
And, yes, there are people who’ve served as muses. People who I think would make excellent characters so I build stories around them. People I want to give starring roles. People who I will absolutely not name here nor will I name of any of the stories they inspired. But they were all muses.
The thing about these muses, the real thing that I think tripped me up in seeing them for what they were, is that I thought of muses as more of something permanent. The fairy that was always there, flitting about with their creativity dust. As it turns out, muses are more impermanent than I previously thought. I don’t think that they’re always supposed to stick around. They serve their creative purpose and then they return to being the nouns they’ve always been.
Of course, muses, like inspiration and creativity and all of those other intangibles, are highly individual. I’m sure some people have muses that stick around forever. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to have that happen.
And I’m sure there are some people who are lucky enough to have the fairy kind of muse, sprinkling creativity all over them. I know that I’ll never be lucky enough to have that.
I’ll have to settle for the nouns that happen to catch my attention.