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To Muse or not to Muse ~ {Does a Writer Need a Muse?}

Updated on July 18, 2011

To Muse...or not

There are probably a lot of writers who don't have one. Probably even more who think the whole idea of a Muse is ridiculous. There may be those who like the concept but do not feel the need to have one of their own. There may be those who thought about it {...for a minute and a half} and decided to ixnay the idea after all. Options abound for creative sorts, so it's entirely up to you (to decide) what's going to work for you.

For me, a Muse is fun to have around. Even when she decides to high-tail it out of here and run off to some exotic island with her pal, Humor. Even when they stay gone too long and come back all svelte and sun-tanned. Even when they don't bring me any souvenirs. Even so, my Muse is a Hoot-and-a-half; so is my Humor. Combined, the three of us make a pretty dandy trio and I'm very happy to have found them both. But that's my story. Yours may be of an entirely different flavor and I'm not saying, one way or the other, that there is a "right" or "wrong" way to practice your craft. The purpose here is to give you a bit more information so you can decide whether to Muse or not Muse. So then....

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First steps...

Finding a Muse isn't a tough as you might think. It's actually pretty simple, once you make up your mind you want one. The following will help guide you through the process:

First, you need to figure out what kind of Muse you're looking for. Do you want her to be silly or serious? Do you want her to whisper or holler? Do you want her to wear wildly goofy garb or be Audrey-Hepburn-elegant? Must she be ever present or just show up every now and then? Are you going to share your chocolate with her or make her bring her own? Very important details you must sort our before you go to the next step. You get the idea, yes?

Once you've figured all that out, next thing you must do is write her a letter. {This is also excellent practice for you, my soon-to-be-famous-author-friend. Besides, you cannot possibly hope to find a Muse if you skip this step.} In your letter, you must tell her what you're looking for and why. Give her your credentials; be totally honest about all of it. No need to blur the edges or be pretentious. Just spit it out and be as clear as you can. Oh...and take your time with this. Because once you've found her, she's likely to be around til the end of time. That's the thing about Muses. They're forever. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. It just ain't true. Muses are like.....{pause to think of a proper analogy}.......{still thinking..........}.......{hold yer horses, will ya?!!!}.........

Okay. Got it! Muses are like herpes.....only better.

Well, maybe that wasn't the best analogy. But still. The point is that a Muse is going to stick around for a very long time. So take your time figuring this one out. Because you sure don't want to pick a Muse who's going to drive you nutso and then not be able to get rid of her. I'm pretty sure the only way to get rid of a Muse is to have a frontal lobotomy. Or so I've been told.

Signed, sealed, delivered?

So you've written your brilliantly clever letter to the Muse you have in mind. It's been signed and sealed (maybe you even put a little piece of chocolate in the envelope?) and you are now ready to mail it. Problem is, you don't have a clue where to mail it (to). Yep. That's the tricky part. Because even though Muses are known to stay (with you) forever, they are not known to be at all fond of boring stuff like "places of permanent residence". Just ain't their style to have one address for very long. They're flighty like that.

But here's the thing: the-truth-the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth is...you're not going to find her. She is going to find you. Hence the exercise in that very detailed letter you just wrote. So, as for the address on the envelope, you're going to have to be creative. In other words: make it up. Because this is the final "key" to having her find you.

{Before you start hyperventilating, take a moment here and breathe. A good, long, deep breath. Go on. Are you breathing? Oh good. Because breathing is so much better than....not.}

Look at it this way: you know how people go to the Humane Society to "pick out a dog"? They go in there thinking they're the ones doing the picking, when in reality it is the critter who does the picking. Most folks don't know this. Nor are they willing to admit such a thing, even if they do (know). Critters are far better at picking out the right person than the other way around. Just the facts, Ma'am/Sir. And if you don't believe me, just drive on down to your local shelter and see how many critters are waiting for someone to come along. How do you think they got there? I rest my case.

It's the same with Muses. The right Muse (for you) is going to use her super-persnickety powers to hone in on your vibe whilst you write the letter. She's going to feel her way to you. Which is why it's so important to tell the less-than-pretty truth about who you are. Otherwise you might end up with a Muse who was meant for Stella down the street. See what I mean?

Now that you know, take a moment (or 20) to make up the address, stick a stamp on it...and toodle down to the mailbox to drop your letter into the slot. Oh yes. You must mail it. If you're thinking about how embarrassing it might be for some postal worker to see what you've done, you have no business asking for a Muse in the first place. In all creative endeavors, there is no room for shame, embarrassment, fear or any other such trifles. Not to mention the fact that there isn't a Muse in the Universe who'd even consider gracing you with her presence if you're worried about what the postal person (or anyone esle) is gonna think. They are a proud and cocky lot, with nary a stitch of humility. Which is why they're so cool to have around.

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Tick-tock-tick-tock...

If you've dropped that letter in the mail, your part is done. Now...you wait. Rest assured, she will show up. When is anybody's guess. She might give you a call first, but don't count on it. Most Muses I know don't much care for phone calls; nor are they obliged to bother with such niceties. Kind of defeats the whole purpose. Which is why they're Muses. Which was also one of the reasons I wanted one of my own. A Muse is all about spontaneity. And surprises. And guts. A Muse never thinks about dumb stuff like what anybody thinks about them or whether or not their entrance is appropriately timed. They don't even do the "time" thing. Time is for puny humans. At least that's what I've gathered from the many conversations I've overheard between my Muse and Miz Humor. I took no offense to the term "puny human". She laughed when she said it and I figured I might as well go along with it. Turns out she was right (as usual). Go figure.

A Muse (well, my Muse anyway) is much more concerned with how much fun she's having and just how much she can inspire you to lighten up. She'd rather shrivel up and wisp away than trouble herself with such inanities as time or success. She'll remind you that you're not "all that". She'll remind you that nothing is so serious as to warrant making yourself sick, sleepless or otherwise stupid over "seriousness". That regardless of how dire a situation may seem, it will pass. And you will get through it. And, yes, you will laugh again. What's really terrific about having her around is that even when she does run off on one of her unannounced sabbaticals, I don't get all freaked out (anymore) and into one of those "OH-I'LL-NEVER-WRITE-AGAIN!" tizzies.. Like I said, a Muse is fun to have around and she'll teach you all kinds of cool stuff...if you let her.

{You will also come to discover, after a time, that you can write without her and it's just as good as if she were there with you. Also: your Muse will not do the writing for you. She will merely inspire you to be the You that you are...and go with the flow of your You-ness.}

'Nuff said....{for now}

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    • Jeff Poirrier profile image

      Jeff Poirrier 6 years ago from Washington

      You know, I'm fairly certain that if readers really think about what you've said here, they will find their muse (whether they realize it or not) before they've finished reading.

      Also, I think Miz Humor may be screening her calls.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Excellent tips for obtaining a muse. So far I have done without and anticipate not needing one any time soon, however, should the need ever arise, I know where to turn.

    • Anaya M. Baker profile image

      Anaya M. Baker 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Okay, it's settled. I want TO MUSE. I must get cracking on that letter though. Suzy the Postal Nazi will likely be irate (no deliverable address), unamused (see the third part of her title) or indifferent (as long as its in a standard envelope and has the proper postage).

      Loved it, thanks!

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