Who’s Your Muse?

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NaNo Prep #3

Who inspires you? If you are lucky enough to have a muse, is it a boy muse or a girl? Does it wear leathers and smoke a cigar, or float about on butterfly wings? Does your muse have a name?

I don’t have a muse. For some reason, I am one of the unfortunates who have to figure out other ways of getting the story going – or keeping it moving forward.

Perhaps you don’t have one those elusive creatures, either. Or maybe your muse goes to bed as soon as you plug your computer in. And it’s hard to get creative when you have nothing but a blinking monitor in front of you. There’s no shortage of distractions, that much I do know. Like blogging (cough), Twitter, Facebook, and your email inbox with the latest crochet pattern you really don’t need.

Personally, I think the muse is overrated. Inspiration belongs to YOU – not a mythical creature that is rated far below some silly band with millions of pictures of muse bandthemselves on the internet. Try looking for an image of the muse. I was this close to trading my laptop in for a blender.

So, what do you do when you come up to the sign that says “Welcome to Writer’s Block. Enjoy your stay”?

Here’s what I do: (Warning: None of it is guaranteed to work.)

  1. Go have coffee. Yep, visit your favourite coffee shop and take a good look at the people sipping their cappuccino. In an earlier post, The world is full of beautiful people, I describe three old folks sitting at the table opposite me. I eavesdropped on their conversation and even took a pic. While the incident didn’t lead to a novel, it has influenced the way I write about old people. And I now believe that every story needs at least one old person in it, just to add balance. And then there’s the waitress. Why is she so snappy this morning? Perhaps she has just discovered that her boyfriend has stocked her freezer with skinned cats. Or maybe she found out that he is not a medical intern but the resident plumber for the local undertaker. Just make up something. Anything.
  2. Take a stroll in a neighbourhood you’ve never visited before. Look for the clue that tells you nothing is at it seems. The ordinary house with the pruned roses and the garden gnome is NOT a nice place. Why? The way you answer the question will determine how good your story is.
  3. My personal favourite is finding a character I really, really want to write about. Let your character be your muse. In another earlier post, When characters do as they please, I describe a man named Jacques who begged to be in my book. Eventually, I lost my mind and gave in. But his short stay of a few pages led to the second and third books. Find the right character (or allow them to tap on your shoulder) and they will take you places. Our characters, after all, are the reason we write. Story is important, too, but it can never outrank the people who move into our thoughts, our dreams and our lives. They make us better people for having known them. And they are eternally grateful for our allowing them to enter our dimension. We just need to allow ourselves to enter their space first, because it is as real as this computer that almost became a milkshake maker.

Your turn. Do you think there is such thing as a muse? More importantly, do they do any good, or are they just mischief makers out to annoy writers?

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