The Muse is a harsh mistress.

A few thoughts on that elusive, but definitely popular, art myth.

Do you believe in a muse? This question is mostly rhetorical and mostly for writers, but you can think about it even if you’re not one.

I used to think the idea was ludicrous. I mean, I’m the one churning out the words, aren’t I ‘in charge’?

Maybe it’s because I’m superstitious, maybe it’s because I’ve been at this long enough to know (or feel I know) now, but I totally believe in the idea of a muse. A not-entirely-rational entity (or energy) that helps spur creative activity.

I know some of you out there, especially those who didn’t read my post about The Secret, are probably thinking, “Visualization! Manifestation! Spirit guides!” That’s all very well and good, and I’m comfortable with the possibility of those things, too, but in my experience The Muse is something different entirely.

Example:  just the other day, I’d really been struggling on a short story, tooling away at it for the better part of four days, and all of a sudden, not only do I feel it’s going great, or, at least, better, because it’s going somewhere, but I suddenly have a bolt from the blue solution to a plot problem (specifically, the absence of one) in a separate piece I’d been frustrated by.

Felt pretty Muse-y to me.

The hallmark of Muse-related phenomena (for moi) is spontaneous bouts of revitalization for my otherwise burned out brain. The other big clue that Muse has returned or is now paying attention would be those eureka moments when my writing issues suddenly sort themselves out in ways I’m sure I couldn’t have achieved on my own.

At this point, I’m sure some of you are also going, “Right brain! Right brain activity.” I get that, I really do. I also used to annoy other writers in workshops by following those kinds of sentiments with others like, “I really don’t enjoy romanticizing the creative process.” Yeah. That got old.

And lemme tell you something else—don’t ignore your muse. And don’t be throwing away or otherwise neglecting to at least try to give her generous help the facility it needs on page or screen. That? Never goes anywhere good.

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