Thursday, February 2, 2012


I find the notion of the Muse fascinating, an elusive and fickle creature who brings people inspiration, usually at the most inopportune times. Perhaps it's like the Easter bunny leaving little idea eggs all over, some of them we step on and squish out everywhere. I'm not sure anyone would approve of the Easter bunny showing up in August or whenever he wanted, we have a specific day scheduled for his arrival. Imagine the tooth-fairy showing up in the middle of the night to get your tooth, but she's so clumbsy she wakes you up every time, giving you face-bruises and instead of money she leaves ice-cubes, so if you don't deal with it right away you wake up in a cold, wet bed. That's just how I feel when my muse gives me a great idea in the car and for some reason I can't get to a pen and write it down, and by the time I get home I forgot most of it anyway.

It's also fascinating that most people talk about the muse as female. For most people, if Angelina Jolie walked in the room to tell you something, you'd probably drop whatever you were doing to listen. The problem is if she does this when you're in the middle of an important discussion or heated debate you can't just get out of, and when you are free to listen to what she has to say, she's gotten jealous of having to share your attention attention and moved on.

Stephen King in his book "On Writing" has the best idea I've heard about the muse. Instead of a gorgeous ethereal female figure, the muse it a fat, lazy man who sits on your couch eating chips all day, making messes everywhere you have to clean up. The problem is you can't kick him out because every once in a while he'll say something that is brilliant you just have to write that very second before he interrupts to tell you there's no more toilet paper so he used other things. (I took some liberties on this retelling).

Sometimes I find the muse is more akin to someone who sleeps around. More than once I've had a moment of sheer inspiration and written down what I believed to be a uniquely new idea. I was so excited about it until I went to see a movie the next day and saw that exact thing on screen. Apparently my muse and I are not in a monogamous relationship if she's giving out the same ideas to whoever she pleases. What if this can work both ways? Maybe I can have several muses I draw from...but the idea of sustaining a relationship with several muses is not that palatable when I think of how tenuous my current muse-receptor relationship is.

My new plan on relating with my muse is to treat it like a house cat. Cats can show you great love and companionship, but scratch your face the very next second. So far, very apt with the muse. The more you want a cat to come, the less it will. Yep, very muse-like. If you have a regular schedule, the cat knows it and adjusts, being all cute and cuddly when it expects to be fed. So, perhaps I will have to take the easiest and often most difficult approach to courting my muse. I must have a regular schedule where I write no matter what and completely ignore my muse. He/She/it will just have to adjust to not being fawned over whenever they want attention and fit themselves into my schedule if they want to be stroked.

Now it's more like a relationship that got too serious so I broke it off, but I still want to be friends. I might miss the compulsive nature of my muse and all the random adventures we used to have, but that's the price of a stable, reliable relationship...and who says we can't still drive to the beach at 3 am once in a while?

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