Musing on Muses

News Flash: Our lucky winners are Beth Medrano, Diane Gidley, and Ginny C! Please check your email, ladies, and congratulations!

Edith/Maddie here, writing from north of Boston, ecstatic to see my younger son again (and his new girlfriend) later this week after a year and a half!

But family reunions aren’t today’s topic. Instead, let’s talk about muses (and be sure to read to the end for a giveaway). According to Wikipedia, they are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. In the following drawing, where they play for Zeus, I don’t see anyone with a pen and paper, or even a stylus and a papyrus. Still, they are the domain of writers.

John Flaxman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I am not entirely sure where the words come from when I’m writing along and my characters surprise me with their words and actions, but I know I love it. Is it a muse guiding my story? Possibly. I also know it won’t happen if I don’t show up for the job, day after day, and keep my fingers moving on the keyboard.

Many of you know I start my writing day by checking in at seven AM with Ramona’s Sprint Club. Ramona DeFelice Long started the practice many years ago on her personal Facebook page. Writers from all over check in for an hour of uninterrupted creativity. Early last fall, when Ramona’s illness made it clear she didn’t have much longer to live, she and Wende Dikec shifted the check-in to a Facebook group, which Wende ably runs, now in Ramona’s absence (sniff). She always starts us off with a quote and a graphic.

Several weeks ago, the following graphic and message headed up the sprint.

Graphic by Wende Dikec, used with permission

Wende Dikec: “One of the authors [in a documentary Wende had watched] … said she couldn’t write until her muse showed up, and her muse had been painfully absent. Uh, no. That’s not how it works. You can’t sit around and wait for your muse to show up … Tchaikovsky felt the same, so I’m obviously not wrong. Have a great day, friends. And if your muse is giving you trouble, don’t wait for her to show up. Hunt her down.”

I love this so much, and I also loved the comments some of the writers shared about their muses. I give you the ones that struck my fancy, with the authors’ permission.

Annette Dashofy: “That author needs to join us here! We’ll handcuff her muse for her and whip it into submission.” [The documentary had been about erotica writers…]

Hilary Hauck: “We are masters of the muse. We summon her every morning for the sprint. If we left it up to her, we might all have a nice, long lie in.”

Amber Foxx: “I have a date with my muse every night at my desk, and she seems sufficiently committed that she often goes running with me or joins me for housework.”

Triss Finkleman Stein: “Barbara Kingsolver was the writer who said, ‘Chain that muse to the desk and get the job done.'”

(Edith: As shown in this picture I printed out and posted above my desk, Kingsolver’s is the kind of muse we all need.)

Claire Murray: “I find my muse is very active most mornings after I’ve painted the night before. She must like the relaxation of painting and sees it as an invitation to join me–then and the next morning.”

Kait Carson: “My muse presented me with a storyline for the 4th book in the series I’m writing. My muse is ambitious – I’m currently writing book 2!”

Jane Kelly: “My muse just got back from vacation. At least I hope she is back. I missed her.”

Gloria Muhly Baer Bostic: “Heading to the beach with the kids this morning.  I’ll let my muse come along, but we won’t seriously get to work until later.”

Denise Weaver: “Here musie, musie, musie.”

Me: “After I woke up this morning, my muse kindly passed along six ideas for how to improve the book.”

Tiger Wiseman (in response): “Please have your muse text mine. I could use some ideas.”

Last week our guest Bruce Coffin said this about his muse: “…when I finally returned to writing, my muse grabbed me by the lapels and shoved me headlong down the murder/mystery path.”

Muses come in many forms, it seems, and call us in different ways. That’s a good thing!

Readers: Have you felt moved by a muse in any artistic pursuit? Tell us about it. I have three ARCs of my November-release Murder at the Lobstah Shack to give away (US only)!

70 Thoughts

  1. I used to be a competitive roller skater. I’ve often felt guidance from other than myself. It may be a stretch, but it worked for me back in the day.

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  2. I’m not at all artistic or crafty. I am a huge procrastinator so I could use some one to give me a push or a kick in the butt to get things done. Thank you for this chance. pgenest57 at aol dot com

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  3. During this pandemic I invited my muse to throw some variety into the mix. I’ve tried painting cards and bookmarks, t- shirt alterations, and wool felting, my favorite! I’ve felted quirky little animals and also ones to look like the real loved fur babies for my family.. the hardest of all, but the most satisfying 🙂

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  4. Most definitely felt the presence of my muse in my hobby of photography. Sometimes it’s in leading me to a new location or maybe just to pay attention because something is about to happen because often times seconds is all you have to react to get that perfect shot. Although hubby got me started with cameras, I think it’s the inner drive or my muse beside me that keeps me pushing on to capture what the eye sees, to continue to try new way to improve my shots with different methods or settings and to get up and move – be it to a new location or to look at things differently. I, too, feel at times that she’s gone on vacation because shot after shot is deleted, but I always know when she reappears because I’m able to capture that wonderful a-ha photo. Hope she is always there to drive me – if not in photography in some other adventure, because it sure would be a boring existence without her.

    Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to win an ARC of “Murder at the Lobstah Shack”! Love your books and can’t wait for the opportunity to read this one. Shared and fingers crossed.

    Have a glorious week! May it start of with a bang and just get better and better as the days click off.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  5. What a terrific reminder of the power of calling on our Muse. One of mine is a deceased friend, a Catholic nun, and a mystic. Her name was Sister Judith, and she always inspired me with her joy in living and doing the work! Thanks, Edith.

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  6. My muse is Nature. Getting myself out of my booth (I’m an audiobook narrator) and into Nature for a walk, a run or a bike ride always relaxes and inspires me. After a “nature cleanse,” I’m ready to hop back in my padded cell, create some voices, and perform some stories!

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  7. Great post to start the week off on the right foot, Edith! My muse first arrived in August, 2011 by knocking on the inside of my skull and saying, “Hey, there are some characters inside here who need you to tell their stories.”
    Since then, she’s taken many forms. When I need it most, she simply reminds me that I like telling stories and the only way to do that is to get in front of that computer screen.

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  8. Alas, MY muse is all “No, you may NOT delete author’s emails unless they are more than a year old and you DO need to open them and at least scan them to see if the author needs anything.” This explains why there are STILL 9,939 unread emails in my inbox. sigh…

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  9. I’m not very artistic, but I do get urges to try different things, so it must be my muse pushing me towards those projects, right? Most recently, I’ve been painting ceramics, and I do enjoy it! Makes me slow down, be patient, and stretch those creative wings. Good luck on your new book, “Lobstah” is exactly how I say it lol!!

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  10. Yes, sometimes I will see something and be inspired to craft or bake again. Sometimes it’s a book that inspires me. Sometimes it just something that catches my eye.

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  11. When I was a kid, I wanted to write Trixie Beldon or Nancy Drew books, but lacked the creativity – my attempts were just copies of the other books I had read. My muse seems to be for needlework of some kind. I have made clothes off and on for most of my life, and done embroidery and cross-stitch. Right now my muse is telling me to read some of the pile of books I have on my TBR pile!

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  12. My muse sometimes makes me feel like Ricochet Rabbit. One minute I am contemplating which book to read, the next it is trying to make a piece of jewelry with the beads I have, then the next it is trying to figure out how to add to my family’s income. Today my muse is recuperating for a very active weekend and trying to figure out what is the most important thing to follow/do.

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  13. I find my muse most active while doing some mindless task. Also late at night, which isn’t good since I have to be up early to go to work.

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  14. As other authors have said. The muse most easily finds you if you are sitting the desk ready to work. Though sometimes she playfully shows up when you are not ready. You’re doing a chore, musing away at the that pl;ot problem, and there it is – the idea you needed. Now all you have to do is remember it until you get a note written. I once heard an author say she had written her inspired idea in the steam on the shower door!

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  15. “A muse by any other name. . .?” Years ago a friend told me how to use what she called “The Universal Intelligence.” It’s easy. Just calm down–I go for a walk–“open the top of your head and let the universal intelligence answer your questions.” I’m thinking maybe departed writers help us sometimes. I’m interested in ninkgardner’s post. A “Sister Judith” wandered into my recent Witch City book- “See Something.” Maybe she was yours!

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  16. It must be nice to only have to work when the muse (mood strikes). Some days, I struggle through my reviews, but I get them done because I have to keep writing them or I fall too far behind, and stress and muse doesn’t mix. At least for me.

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  17. I’m not artistic or crafty. I do knit, but the only thing I’ve made are scarves. I think my muse is on vacation and she needs to come home and get me motivated to declutter my house so I can move on.

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  18. I am not in least bit arty, and I hate the part of workshops that require doing an art project. However, I have surprised myself on more than one occasion by doing something quite respectable. Gotta be a muse out there helping me.

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    1. A friend who teaches future art teachers stresses that it’s the process, not the product that matters, so have fun!
      I have found storyboarding often helps me sort out a difficult story.

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  19. I write mostly for myself, but I write reviews as a thank you for the books I really love . . . which makes the authors my muses? A seminar on teaching writing gave me a metaphor that I used with students: When fishing, one does not sit idle waiting for a fish to show up, but rather baits the hook and casts the line. Just so, one starts writing, letting ideas flow, until the piece begins to develop and the ideas are caught. I’d tell my scholars that I’d often find that elusive first sentence somewhere in the middle, and relate how much easier the rearranging is on computers instead up cutting, rearranging, taping, and retyping as we did in college. 😉

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  20. Edith, you are the second creative person in the last week that mentioned the “muse” or idea source. Paul McCartney talked about it in his documentary 3,2,1 that is on Hulu. I have very little artistic talent, but have been coloring cards this past year and I am looking at colors in nature more intently trying to find what color goes with another for a more delightful outcome. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes not.

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  21. I am one of those who jerks the muse out of bed when I open my computer and pull up Scrivener or Scapple or Plottr. She also pops in and out while I’m in editing mode pushing me to make things better. This waiting on her to show up would mean I’d never get a darn thing done.

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  22. Once I visited a friend who was sitting shiva for her father and something she said about him got stuck in my mind. I sat down for a minute to write down the comment to get back to later, but my muse interfered & a entire poem came out on the page. This poem became one of the few I’ve had published!

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  23. I am a person who ponders the thought, but I do not put the thoughts down on paper. Thank you for the opportunity. God bless you.

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  24. Apparently my muse shows up while I am soaking in the bathtub. That is when I get all my good ideas, work through problems, gain clarity on things.

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