Musings on the Nature of a Muse

Painter and his muse by János Schadl
Painter and his muse by János Schadl

I have something out of left field for you today. A satirical look at acceptance and rejection and the whimsical muse whose attention you can never hold long enough before she wanders off to her next lover.

I’m reblogging an article from Prose Before Ho Hos called The Manly Art of Acceptance and Rejection, written by author Jessica West, because it’s amusing. Satire has a way, not unlike sarcasm, of cutting through the fat to expose some real flesh and bone truths, and I think Jessica’s post succeeds in doing just that.

There is another reason why I am sharing this article and it is only slightly related. It made me wonder about my muse. This is where I differ from the article, but then, the article is not meant to be taken seriously, only the message it leaves. I believe each writer has their own muse who visits them frequently unless the writer creates an environment that repels that muse, be it through a sourly mood or possibly incessant insecurities that gnaw at the psyche or any factor really that serves to disrupt creative flow.

Three years ago I wrote that my muse is an ample-bosomed woman who whispered things in my ear and showed off her assets to inspire me. It is funny how things have changed. Since then I have written many words and I’ve read many more, and I have come to the realization that there is more to my muse than meets the eye. In fact, my muse was never a woman, nor was it a man. It was…is an entity that shifted its appearance and nature according to my mental state and experience. In other words, it became what this writer needed to write.

I write through times when I don’t feel like writing. When it feels like my keys are unresponsive and my fingers are made of lead and acid. Where the words don’t flow but feel like they are being spat out, one at a time. And yet I keep writing because my goals are bright and waiting and because I know that writing is the only way forward.

That thing that drives me to continue, despite my own reservations, is my muse. Who ever said your muse is supposed to make life comfortable for you? Your muse is whatever it needs to be so you can keep writing.

Right now my muse is my children smiling at me and making cute faces, waiting while I carve out a future for them. Then, when the pressure of failing gets too much my muse turns into Hemingway. Hemingway, calling from the beyond, looking at me with arrogant eyes and that half-grin of his, telling me how I’m not a writer, that I need to bleed out before I’ll ever be a shadow of one and even then I’d still just be a pretender. And I respond to him with a “Fuck you, I still admire you” half smile of my own. Then Hemingway turns into a Mediterranean island somewhere to the left of Greece and I see myself sitting at a cafe near the beach wearing a pink shirt and plastic framed Oliver Peoples sunglasses and sipping an ice-cold beer from a bottle, condensation wet against the palm of my hand. And I look up at that white cloudless sky and follow the sun’s warm gaze as the ocean shimmers with its brilliance and I smile to myself, knowing that after this drink I’ll go back to my writing because I can and because this is the life I wanted.

And when I wake from my reverie, my muse fading like smoke in a breeze, I know what I have to do and that writing and moving forward is the only way for anything to get done.

Maybe your muse is a demon. Maybe it’s a fantasy. Or maybe it is that thing right there in the back of your mind that keeps you company while you write. That holds your hand or spits in your eye.

That thing is a contradiction. And the best way to deal with a contradiction is to not be one. By being stubborn and unbending. By writing even if it hammers against the walls in your mind. Only then will you realize that your muse is a lonely creature who only wants your acceptance, but before that can happen you need acceptance of yourself with all your insecurities and vices and shortcomings. You are what you are, and that is a great thing.

It is then that you’ll realize your muse is actually just you looking for a valid excuse to fail or strive for excellence.

Phew! Not sure where that came from, but if you had enough of my cheesy ramblings, go here for a tongue-in-the-cheek look at The Manly Art of Acceptance and Rejection | Prose Before Ho Hos.

Cheers!

Woelf

6 thoughts on “Musings on the Nature of a Muse

  1. Don’t have a name for my muse, nor do I really acknowledge it as an “it.” I had a wire artist teacher her always referred to “her muse.” But I thought this view of the muse was certainly creative and worth a look!

    1. Thanks! When I started taking my writing serious my muse truly felt like this buxom 70s vixen breathing in my ear (don’t ask why. It’s complicated) and then all of it changed without me noticing at first.

  2. My muse is a grotesque creature with claws and sharp teeth and red eyes. He pretends to embrace his ugliness but in truth he wishes he were beautiful. Well, maybe not all the time, but every once in awhile he gets that melancholy look in his eye, and I know.
    Nice post by the way, you got a chuckle out of me.

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