Everybody has heard writers, especially poets, talk about their “Muse”. Outside the world of writing, in art, the alleged Muse often causes some amusement (occasionally sour) as said Muse usually visits male artists and take the form of some female, most often one willing to pose nude – and more. Within writing, the Muse is usually used as a euphemism for that voice that springs out of some hidden place, uttering words that suggest some new tale or poem. Sometimes, the Muse may also push the writer along, encouraging completion of a work. Much worse, the Muse, being extremely fickle, may desert the writer!
The Muse has been at the root of creative invention and expression for a very, very long time! In fact, according to the Ancient Greeks, there were no less than eight Muses for literature! There was also a ninth, for astronomy. They each influenced some sphere of literature. What I can’t find is one that actually involved herself (yes, they’re all female!) in novels of Fiction! So where does that voice come from? Have the Muses caught up with modern writing?
In the way that I write, I could certainly use a reliable Muse. Of course, I could also use a better memory, especially for that elusive word that I know exists, but which evades capture ‘on paper’! There are certainly moments of inspiration, when some concept appears as if from nowhere, or a period of writer’s block is finally broken by that vital spark. Yet can I call that the influence of a Muse? Personally, I have my doubts. Yes, those inspirations appear unheralded, sometimes at the weirdest moments, and it’s difficult to explain why, but surely we shouldn’t be passing the credit on to some nebulous creature outside ourselves? Shouldn’t we simply accept that we all have moments of genuine invention, even genius?
I think that the creative spark that inspires our writing is integral to all people, a function of Mind that can manifest in numerous creative activities. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the writer or the scientist. The spark is the thing that has raised us up and made us what we are, as a species as well as individuals. I think that it’s like a jug that is forever filling. Sometimes, it overflows and we get a flood of inspiration. We may even be able to tip a little out, on very rare occasions! Of course, the rate it fills at is altered by other factors. Tiredness, ill health, a host of distractions can all slow the filling to the point where we finally hit that awful ‘block’ and all inspiration dries up. Equally, we can encourage faster filling by making best use of it! Perhaps the jug doesn’t like standing in a pool of unused inspiration.
Now before anybody gets too excited, please believe me when I say that I am not referring to Divine Inspiration! What that may be, where it comes from, or even whether it exists lies in the opinions of individuals! It is not a minefield that I have any intention of entering. That would be foolish, inviting a debate that could become far too violent.
In ending this post, I’d like to ask you about your own encounters with the Muses. Do you have amusing stories about it? Do you, like me, accept the credit (or blame) for what you consider to be your own creativity? Have you ever, really, had cause to suspect that a Muse truly exists and inspires you to create things that would never have been your choice? I would love to hear from you!