Monday, January 25, 2010

Muse Musings

In the movie Stranger Than Fiction, Emma Thompson plays an author struggling with how to write the end of her novel. She does several unique things to try to figure out the ending, including sitting outside in the rain. When her assistant tells her that sitting in the rain doesn't write books, she replies, "Well, that shows you just how much you know about writing books." When she finally figures out the ending, she tells her assistant, "Like anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method."

Answers like that call to mind, for me, strange people huddled in cafes with cigarettes and alcohol talking about their 'genius' and their 'muse.' People I called 'artistes' and thought of as divas who needed careful handling, because they couldn't just put their butts in chairs and get something accomplished.

I do not believe I have a Muse. I do not believe there is some person or thing who causes my ideas and whose absence will cause my mind to dry up like a well. Ideas tumble off shelves in my brain, but I don't know if there's anything I could do to induce them to fall other than kick a lot of stuff around in an effort to help mental gravity out a bit. If one thing's for certain, pouring libations and sacrificing goats does not help my creative process.

However, I cannot deny that sometimes the whole story idea, the key aspects of the tale, or the brilliant thing that I love came to be in some sort of flash. Often there's a glimmer of a hint of a thread, and I'll follow that to the end of the thought process. But, sometimes, things walk up and announce themselves. Inexplicably and without method.

Do you have a 'muse'? How do you get those illusive muses to sing/dance/produce ideas from thin air? If you don't have a muse, what do you do to get the creativity to work when it doesn't want to?


  1. I do have a muse. It's part figment of my imagination and part inspiration. I cannot work without him. ;)

  2. I don't think I have a muse. I'm not sure though. I got the idea for THE LADY's... about 4 years ago and started writing a middle scene. Two years later, this scene isn't even in the finished book, and all the names, occupations, and even the setting is different. I don't know what that means. Perhaps my muse gave me the idea but my own conscience turned it around? I have no idea.

    Someone said all the stories in the world have already been written, we just have to find a new way to tell them.

    Although if I did have a muse I think he would be like Cary Grant. I love his accent.

  3. Ah, the MUSE.

    I JUST LOVE Stranger Than Fiction. One of my most favorite movies.

    I wrote a post about my muse here. Interesting stuff. You know, I think I write better when she's gone now...

    Also, here's a video, if you haven't already seen it, that is totally amazing and I watch every time I need a little inspiration when I'm depressed. Keep Showing Up

  4. I'm like you. I wouldn't call it a muse, but ideas do tend to come out of nowhere while I'm writing. It's a wonderful feeling.

  5. Music is my muse, and though sometimes it simply is what it is, lyrics and melodies, other times a verse, a line, even a single word, is magic and inspires entire manuscripts. I just have to remember to listen.

  6. Hi Dominique,

    I came here cuz I liked your comment on the last blog I was reading....I'm jealous of those who are inspired by music. I have no clue what my *muse* would be. But I'm most inspired by reading books and watching films. Would Woody Allen count as my muse?

  7. Is it weird to say my husband is my muse? What I mean is that I tend to get my best ideas when we are talking (usually about strange or inane or pointless stuff). He also has a really high tolerance level for me saying 'That's a really interesting idea. What if....' and then rambling on at him for an hour about the plot line and characters that could form a book or story.

  8. For me, my muse is that writing grove I fall into when the words come easy and seem to be right. I don't really think of it as a person/entity - more of a state of being.

  9. I watched this movie before we began writing--I think I'd probably appreciate it so much more now! In terms of a muse, I think taking a break from writing (even if it's just a weekend) allows some of those creative juices to flow spurring new ideas for plots, characters and conflict. Relaxation is my muse!

  10. T. Anne -- Your muse is a guy? Interesting. I didn't know they came in male form.

    Piedmont -- Cary Grant probably would have been an interesting muse. The accent certainly would have helped. Have you ever seen the movie A Touch of Pink. Cary Grant is the MC's imaginary friend. It's very amusing.

    Glamis -- Your muse is gone? Did you evict her? Well, if you write better off without her, it's all for the best.

    Susan -- Yes, idea flashes are wonderful.

    Windy -- Yes, I find music to be very inspiring. I wouldn't have termed it a muse, but if that's what works for you, then it works.

    Karen -- Hi. Thanks for stopping by. I think that movies can be inspirational like everything else. I'm not super familiar with Woody Allen movies, but I guess they could be muses as well.

    Dreamstate -- I think a husband can be a muse. Life is supposed to be what sets writers off, isn't it?

    Tess -- A state of being. An interesting thought, that.

    LnL -- Relaxation sounds like a very pleasant muse. I think most people would like to meet her.

  11. I get flashes of inspiration from the strangest things, but I don't know if that counts as a muse. For me, writing is hard work. It would be easy to stop, but I don't think that's possible.

    And I don't think I've seen that movie- I'm going to have to check it out!

  12. Stephanie -- It's a pretty good movie, and especially fun for writers.