07 June 2007

Has Anybody Seen My Muse?

My muse has been a constant companion for all the years I've been writing. It's outlasted most of my serious relationships. Any creative flight of fancy it inspired, I was along for the ride. "Hmm, a novel about passion and intrigue in Moorish Spain; and I should spend a couple of weeks in Spain to do my research? Let's do it!"

Flash forward to a month ago. In the midst of upheaval at home, frustrations at work and really nasty cold, I realized my muse had gone missing. No more fingers clacking away on the keyboard to finish the novel, no more mad dashes off to the library or local Borders for new research. Author friends reassured me, "Don't worry, it'll come back."

I can only assume it's left me for a more talented, driven writer. So what have I done about it? First, I tried not to worry, convincing myself that I needed the break. So I went on vacation, went to the movies, caught up on the latest celebrity gossip, hung out with friends, knowing that if I gave it enough time, my muse would return. Then of course, guilt set in. "I really should be at home working on that novel." But instead of staring at a blank screen on my computer, I pulled out the old photo album and looked at some of those great pictures I'd taken of Spain. I also went on Wikipedia to edit some of the on-line articles about the historical figures in my novel, all the while thinking, "I've really got to finish this novel and get it in the hands of the right publisher. Too many inaccuracies about these people; maybe I can set the record straight."

Well, it's June and I'm still waiting for that good old friend of mine to return. Since I've been assured by my writer friends that this happens to everyone, what do you when your muse has left you? How do you try to get that inspiration back?



Anonymous said...

She's on vacation with MY muse, apparently. I think we should lift up stakes and join them. I really hope they're in the Carribean and not camping on some mountain!

For me, it's really really hard to get back into the swing of things when 'real life' takes a whack at my creativity. I've been feeling overwhelmed lately, and that has also had me running scared in the writing arena. I've decided just to sit back and let it come. I'm finishing up a novel at the moment--under the express opinion that one can't edit a blank page. I feel like a hack and everything I write is amateurish and horrible. But it's a start. So, for me, the CURE for writer's block or lack of muse is to just write. Write and fix it later. For me, later is like next week. I'm turning this book in by the 15th. EEK!

Michelle Styles said...

Have you tried reading Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit? She is very good about rediscoveringthe muse and the fun in creating.
I love her idea about scratching around for ideas -- scratching interms of lottery cards. She also points out that if you keep going back to the same place to scratch, things wear out.

My muse is not currently allowed a holiday as I have just been offered a four book contract.

Vicki Gaia said...

I feel the same way! Maybe it's the stars or planets we can blame :) But seriously, I've been at a all time low in production. To get back into the grove can be hard, but the muse is there, waiting. I once went to listen to an author speak at my local bookstore. She claims there is no such thing as 'writer's block'. When a writer isn't writing or physically 'doing' - it's a time of contemplation. In our subconscious, things are brewing all the time; stories, ideas, new paths...

I have a book I MUST complete by the end of the summer. I've rewritten the first few chapters four times already, not satisfied with my plot. I think this last rewrite is going to work, so I'm forcing myself to buckle down and write a few pages a day, not worrying about if it's good or not. I went to art school and one thing I learned about creative inspiration is that it's like any thing else we do in life. We're not always going to be inspired. Most art is created by slugging through the doubtful times and creating anyway. Some of my mistakes have been my best work!


Sandra Schwab said...

Okay, my Muse is away on holidays, too! They're all in this together, I tell you! Sipping margheritas ang languishing in the sun, while we're despairing and gnashing our teeth.

carrie_lofty said...

That's really good news for you, Michelle! Congrats!

Otherwise, my muse can't tell the difference between working time and family time. I move in two days, yet I have this novella in my head that WILL NOT let me be. It barely let me get my WIP done, and now it wants time to be heard... but the movers! The packing! Eek!

Sandra Schwab said...

Oh wow, I completely skipped over Michelle's four book contract. FOUR books!!! Wow! Big, big congrats, Michelle! Woohoo!

Liz Clare said...

Same here. With everything that's been going on with jobs, elderly parents, etc., the muse ran away. So like you, I'm trying a rest from novel writing this summer and working on marketing of my current book and otherwise just trying to have some fun.

Looking forward to that lady's return. I miss her a lot -- life's a lot more fun when she's around.

co-author of "To the Ends of the Earth: The Last Journey of Lewis & Clark"
Silver Medalist, Independent Publisher Book Awards

Kim Iverson Headlee said...

"Care and feeding" of one's muse is essential. Some also call it "sanity maintenance." Taking a vacation -- if even to the movie theater for a couple of hours (or 3, for the latest "Pirates" installment :), is a great start . . . and should be absolutely no cause for guilt. Another trick that works for me is to surround myself with books & objects that stimulate my imagination by either reminding myself of my travels or research, or by being just plain cool.

My muse has been on "medical leave," of sorts, lately as I have struggled with a bout of depression. This, too, should evoke no guilt -- it happens to all of us. I can speak only for myself, of course, but I could also term this particular type of absence as being "writer's block." I never seek medication or professional counseling (a personal choice that need not be debated here :) during these episodes, but I have learned not to fear them, for what results afterward is my very best fiction.

Write on, and the muse will come.