It’s amazing to me how many creative people have a bad relationship with their muse. I think mostly this stems from a disbelief the “muse” in general, or using the muse as a tool to shift blame when they can’t write. And while I’m certainly guilty of doing the same I’ve found a nice balance with my muse. Her name is Ellison.
Ellison, when I was younger, liked to pretend to be a princess, or an archeologist, or a cheetah, or whatever she decided would be fun. Ellison is my Id, my Lady of Imagination. In time she found that she could open doors to other Worlds. Other Realities. Starting with other realities of myself, which she opened the doors to and called Daydreams. Eventually we moved on to such different realities of myself that they became someone else. And then Ellison found a door one day while I was bored in a work meeting. She cracked it open to a scene so strange and different that I could not look away. The girl on the other side was not me; she was not even a version of me from some random fandom I had picked up. She was Original. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time I bet you can guess who she is
It took me a long time to discover Ellison because she’s a shape-shifter (princess, archeologist, cheetah, my little pony), and an even longer time to strike a deal with her that would work for both of us. Because Elli likes to do whatever she likes to do. She doesn’t like restraint, and she doesn’t like being told what to do. She wants to play, and open doors, and find interesting people who are willing to tell their stories. It’s what she’s for, really. But she took over for a while, and I couldn’t work, and I couldn’t pay attention to what people were saying, and we were jumping from one story to the next with no break and I finally had to make it stop.
First I locked her up for a while. I put her in her room and locked the doors and didn’t let her do anything. There were no daydreams, there was no storylining. No characters, no other worlds, nothing. It was horrible. So I let her out again, but I set some rules. She can play as much as she wants during her free time. Showers? Playtime. Chores? Playtime. Sleep? Playtime for sure. Doing mindless things at work? Playtime. She can open any doors she wants and have fun. But when it’s time to work then it’s not playtime any more. If we are working on Fie Eoin then we are working on Fie Eoin. Not an alternate universe Fie Eoin. Not Pike’s Revenge. Not backstory or fluff. Fie Eoin. Elli opens the right door and I write until the scene is over. And then she gets a little bit of playtime (it’s no use making her work very hard for very long), and then it’s time to work again.
You know what? Between reigning in Elli and knowing my writing schedule we rarely have problems anymore. We work when it’s time to work and we play when it’s time to play. We’ve just had a couple weeks of nothing but play, and now it’s time to get back to work. I think Elli’s as ready as I am.
Do you have a muse? Do they cooperate with you, or is it a constant struggle?