Monday, February 11, 2013

Finding a Lost Muse

Muses are strange creatures. They have no physical form. For most people, they don't exist outside of their head. For some people, they take the form of characters from shows or books that they admire and strive to be like. For others, it's the form of real people or creatures with whom interaction makes ideas take shape. These muses are just in our head, but you will never, ever hear me say that they aren't real. If you ignore them, they will leave you to find someone who will give them the attention they need. I said in my last post that I stopped writing for six years. At the beginning of that time, when I left for college and put away the "childish things", I also put away all of the sources my muses at the time came from. I stopped watching the shows and reading the books that inspired me. I lost touch with my muses completely, and they left me when I wasn't looking. I thought I could just come back and they'd still be there, waiting, but when I finally did, my mind was... silent. Abandoned. Empty, with only a few scattered and crumpled papers left in the corners.

I said that I told my little begging story "All that remains is the memories of who I was then. Unless that can be my muse, I'm finished." That's really not far from the truth. I sat and wondered if it was possible for me, or rather, the persona I had created for myself as a writer, to be my own muse. It was the only thing I still had that was entirely mine, the only thing that I could possibly make a muse out of. It seemed crazy. I should just give up. I was talking nonsense. The side of me that was a writer six years before was gone, and the thought of muses, of needing an imaginary friend to help you create, was just the idea of a seventeen year old with her head in the clouds. Adults didn't think that way. I went on with my life. But something was awake with that thought, and it wasn't going to give up without a fight.

A few days later, I had my first idea for a new novel since I had stopped writing. It was a dream, one that told a strangly coherent story, one that I remembered completely when I woke up. I hadn't remembered my dreams in years. It took over my mind. I spent the next few days jotting down notes, learning about these characters and this strange place I had seen in my dream. There was no doubt in my mind that the "silly thoughts" I had put to myself and brushed aside set something in motion. It was the only explanation. So what if it's not the "adult" way to think, if I'm pulling the childish things back out and holding them close? I put away the childish things and almost lost everything.

Maybe it's silly to think of it as if there's an imaginary friend finding little lost stories and bringing them back to me to make a home for them, but I no longer care, because I now know I'm not wrong, and I'm not alone. Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Good Omens) once told a fan who said they wanted to be an author when they grew up, "Growing up is highly overrated. Just be an author." A chapter in Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing is titled "How To Keep and Feed a Muse". There's something incredibly uplifting about realizing the people you idolize, the people that you want to one day join the ranks of, feel the same way you do. It tells you that you're on the right path. Is it the only path to get there? Never, but it's the one I want to be on.

So, do I still think I'm silly and childish for keeping a muse? Without a doubt. The difference is, I'm okay with it now. The change since that day has been undeniable. I need my muse just as much as she needs me. I give her a head to live in, and she fills it with people and places and things and ideas. She exists because I need her to. And you can guarantee, I'm not going to lose her again.


  1. Thus, the birth of TA!

    Anyway, how's the writing schedule working out for you? Feeding the muse enough? Decided what you're working on next yet, or still free writing?

    Man, muses are terrifying, beautiful things. Can't live with them, can't live without them.

  2. I was at a writing panel last summer where several authors (including a 3 time Hugo award winner) I admire stated that (I am paraphrasing because I can't find my notes where I wrote the quote down) being a writer is like having a highly controlled multiple personality disorder. You always have voices in your head talking to you and good writers will listen, ask questions, and take notes. If I recall correctly, this was a panel of 7 or so published authors and at least 6 of them completely agreed with this thought(as do I, the aspiring author).

    I don't think I'd trade the voices of the characters I've grown to love or even the voices of the characters that annoy me for a life lacking in fantasy (aka the fantastic).

    I'm glad your muse is back and that you are listening to what your muse has to say. May your muse never leave you long and bring back friends to share their stories often.