Muse-ings

“O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!” –Dante Alighieri, The Inferno

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?

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18 thoughts on “Muse-ings

    • My personal belief is that everyone has a muse, but not everyone has meet their muse yet. Like I said, it was a long time before I realized Elli was my muse (or that I even had a muse!) and an even longer time to work well together. But once you have a good relationship with your muse it is wonderful :) Maybe not easier all the time, but well worth it when she’s working ;)

      Good luck meeting your muse!

  1. Totally have one. Haven’t named her yet, and she’s been on vacation since I got pregnant lol. Though, as you noticed, she dropped by for a visit the other day. We miss each other, for sure. Great post!

    • I have noticed that muses like to take vacations ;) And I’m sure that being pregnant is not the time when you want to be furiously working on a manuscript! There are probably other, more important things to think about ;)

  2. My muse used to be like those children who act up ALL THE TIME just to get attention. Bouncing off the walls, filling my handbag/pockets/purse with scraps of hastily scribbled on paper. Nightmare.

    Now that I indulge him (so demanding he just HAS to be a man) on a regular basis (just realised how wrong that could read out of context) he has calmed down and we work well together. Unfortunately, as far as he is concerned, any time that I’m awake is potentially work time, as in book work time, so any other kind of work pretty much doesn’t happen.

    Right now he’s happy because we work together for several hours every day. I think he misses me otherwise. He’s rather like a German Shepherd dog in that respect.

    • hehe, I like that method – work them several hours a day until you can’t anymore. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to do that with Elli (she hates the lab!) :)

      And *giggles* about the German Shepherd :P

  3. Oh Ellison! :D You know who she ought to get coffee with sometime…

    You know I’ve got one. ;) Halcyon. Hal. The Blue Lady. She’s grown a bit melancholy in recent years, I’ve got to tell you, but she is still going strong; my NaNovel was done entirely on my own, but she held the pieces together while I was sewing it up, you might say. And her own tales to be told are on their way. :)

    • Oh Hal <3 I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for you and Hal I wouldn't even know Elli.

      Also, I had an awful dream last night that you were mad at me, but then I saved you from a massive flash flood and you were less mad :P

  4. I’m afraid to say that I don’t think I have a muse. As you know, I recently posted about how I’m fascinated by the idea of muses, but I can’t honestly say that I have one. I think the words that sometimes dribble and other times pour onto the page are all mine, and those spurts of inspiration come from a subsconcious part of the mind that I only manage to tap into occasionally.

    In saying that, I love the description of your muse and I hope that, one day, a muse like yours will coming knocking on the windows of my mind! :)

    • Your post is what made me write this :)

      And the words are all mine, she just shows me the way to them. But she can’t take credit for all that awesome *coughs* that pours onto the page (which means she also can’t be blamed when it’s total crap coming out instead ;P)

      I hope you meet your muse someday!

    • I’m still a little nervous to let her have too much control over the process, but at least I know how to stop her now ;)

      And I think she likes the discipline… #sadomasochisticmuse ;)

  5. I have muses! While I was in the throes of my whipping out WIP1 (aka, my Hot Mess ;)), my muses kept me going. Sometimes I think of them as brain elves tinkering with random tidbits of thoughts in a steampunkish assembly line to give me great ideas for my next scenes, but for the most part, the muses for WIP1 were its two main characters. It’s like they were waiting for me to finish their story (oftentimes, very impatient in their waiting!), and that was inspiring/motivating enough for me.

    • Steampunk brain elves! I love it :D

      You have to love an impatient, forceful character. My favorite thing while writing is when I’m trying to make them do something, and they stop and say “no stupid, it happened like this”. I used to fight it (no, I’m the god of this story, do it the way I said!) but now I’ve realized it’s pointless to fight, and they know what they are doing. It is their lives after all :P

  6. Aww, she reminds me of one of my own muses, the child-muse called Nyx. I love the name Ellie. Thanks for sharing this post with me, Rebecca.

    Oh my, I should do that tag soon too, shouldn’t I. Lol! *hugs*

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