Thursday, February 25, 2010

What is a muse? Hell if I know.

There was talk yesterday around the internet about what "muse" is.

Carrie Ryan started it by asking on twitter, "how do you define muse?"

Jackson Pearce, author of AS YOU WISH, responded to the question HERE.

Saundra Mitchell, author of SHADOWED SUMMER, responded with her thoughts HERE.

So I've been thinking about it as it relates to me and what I think, and I have to admit, the idea of a muse has always seemed a little strange to me. I might even go so far as to say, I've never really understood what people mean when they talk about their muse, like it's something that needs to act in a certain way to have a good writing day.

I've even heard the term applied to objects or people - "She is my muse," as if she brings out the creativity in the person.

Do I have a muse who tells me what to write about? No. I get my ideas by journaling and brainstorming and thinking "what if" over and over and over again. Okay, once in a hundred years, I apparently have a dream that would make a good book, like I did with I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME. But most of the time, it's me thinking and thinking and THINKING on ideas. So, if this is what people think of when they hear the word muse - that which tells us what to write about - then I don't have one, and I definitely want one!

However, my guess is that most people are talking about what Saundra talks about in her post. A good writing day is that day when the words flow like water, and things appear in your story you never could have imagined, and yet, they appear and they are perfect and at the end of the day, it's unbelievable to you how all of that just happened.

In those moments, we are grateful, and it feels like we should thank someone, so people thank their muse.

Personally, I send up a thank you to God. But that's me.

I have always called those incredible writing moments "magical moments." I have a couple of books that are full of them. And I have some books that only have a few - where most of it was blood, sweat and tears and me just doing the best I could, word by word. Can you, the reader, tell in my books when the magical moments happened as I wrote, and and when they didn't? I'm guessing no. I'm also guessing that no matter what your profession, there will be days where everything clicks and you're on top of the world, and days where they just don't.

It's yin and yang, no?

Generally, I do believe writing is about discipline and hard work. It's about opening the document day after day and starting in when you feel rusty and you don't know if you really feel like writing or not. But I cannot deny that at times, it feels as if something takes over. As if I am no longer thinking of the words to go on the page, but instead, channeling the story from somewhere, and simply getting it all down.

You may call it muse.
I may call it magic.
Whatever it is, I know we all want more of it. But we only get it by sitting down and opening the document.


  1. You and me are on the same page, baby.

  2. I've had muse moments when a person has suggested some sort of revision and the heavens opened up for me.

    Not often, though. Usually I have to work and work for ideas to come. I'm not someone overflowing with stories I can't wait to tackle. I have to hunt those things down.

  3. Right there with you on muses. I don't understand them, don't have one, and don't really want one. :)

    The best post I ever read on muses was written by Maureen Johnson, and it is hilarious. :)

  4. To me, a Muse isn't a who, its a what. It's this tiny moment when I know that a snippet (a sound, an flash image in my head, a question) is not what it appears to be. It's much, much more. And from that moment, the feeling builds. It stays with me until the book is written.

    I agree. It's magic. :)

  5. I think a muse is symbolic. It can be a bright sunny day, a comfy couch, a person, or a magical moment from God. Whatever it is that makes the words flow from your fingertips- that's your muse.

  6. I love the way you look at this, Lisa. I also totally agree with where the thanks belong - with God. :-)