Musing about the muse

The muse is a mysterious woman, pursued then waited for, enticed then pleaded with; until she is loosed in our imagination.

She is sometimes elusive and sometimes bold, declaring her presence.

She is in what we see and hear and smell, and in what we taste and touch.

The muse is our inspiration. She is everywhere—everywhere there is a writer or the dream of being a writer.

She is in the heart of every creator and in the culmination of every creative thought.

She has all the complexity of a woman, and the simplicity.

She is the simply complex, mythological creature from which we derive our modern-day thoughts on inspiration.

In Greek mythology, the muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, each possessing power that could spark the creative endeavours of mere mortals.

A lingering sense of mystery surrounds the inspiration we refer to as “the muse”.

The writer’s muse is as individual as the writer.

What inspires you?

The muse may seem at times unreachable, unattainable, intangible, ineffable.

But …

Setting aside history and the nine Greek mythological goddesses of inspiration, the modern-day muse wants to be found.

Sometimes all she wants is to be paid attention to. What is it about her that commands our attention? What is that scent she wears, the one that beguiles? What is it about the sound of her voice or the way she moves across a room? What does her expression reveal about how she’s feeling or what she’s thinking?

What is it she inspires in us, and why?

The writer’s work is to place the reader, believably, where they are: to take the reader’s mind and transpose it to another place and time where they will see what the writer sees and hear what the writer hears …

The writer’s muse becomes the reader’s fulfillment.

Think for a moment about what inspires you and suddenly you may be reaching for a napkin or grabbing some scrap of paper to capture your creative muse. Or, you may find yourself catching the tail of a conversation, like grabbing the tail of a comet that streaks off with you through time and space.

Sometimes words flow and thoughts and fingers scramble to keep up. That’s when you know the muse has found you, and you follow willingly.

At other times, you must go looking for her, perhaps while walking over trails and listening to the snow crunch beneath your steps.

Or, she may come to you in a scent — cinnamon — and a childhood memory rushes forward and propels you to your keyboard or to paper, pen in hand.

The muse may appear in someone you meet. Each person has a story, perhaps one that you will tell.

Sometimes you find your muse; sometimes she will find you.

The muse is as simple and as complex as that; as simple and as complex as writing itself, which is both inspiration and discipline.

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