As a novelist, I have a muse. It’s not a who but a what – woodturning. Since, by definition, a muse is female, specifically nine goddesses that provide inspiration to the creative arts, I suppose I can give my wood lathe a name like Sweetie or Precious so I can remain within the bounds of that definition.
The word muse is much overused but, most writers will tell you, she/he/it/they are quite real and necessary. Interestingly, I have been told by several that they do not rely on muses, and that their inspiration comes from internal sources. I have a hard time believing that. In my opinion, it’s like saying that their healthy body is a result of internal influences and had nothing to do with external forces – food choices, fresh air, friends, etc.
Here’s my contention: Whether these naysayers realize it or not, they do have muses. I’m not saying the muse has to necessarily be a person, animal, or anything of a grandiose nature at all. It might be the sound of dry swirling leaves on a cool and windy fall morning, the sound and smell of rain, a favorite cup of hot tea, ocean sounds, or sounds of a busy street. Inspiration can come from any source and, sometimes, quite surprising in nature. All it takes is an open mind to allow it in.
A couple of years ago, I was working on a novel (“Phobia”/Booktrope) and was struggling a little with plot direction. I had several choices once I had reached the pinnacle of the story arc. I happened to wake very early one winter morning. It was dark and very cold outside –chilly inside the house too. So, I built a fire in the fireplace. I was alone. It was quiet. I nursed a cup of coffee and stared at the dancing flames. In those flames, I saw what I needed to do with that novel from the point at which I had stopped all the way to the end of the book. That fire, that morning, in that setting was my muse.
Those writers who say inspiration comes from internal sources would have discounted that fire as having had no influence. We all need muses, not just writers or artists. And, we all do. We just have to recognize them for what/who they are and appreciate them.
I’m suddenly compelled to go do something creative. Thank you for being my muse on this day.