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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Muse

This post is probably going to piss some people off. That's not a warning, just a fact. I'm going to say some things in this post that a lot of writers will argue with.

I'll start with a bold statement: There is no such thing as "the muse"!

There, I said it. Am I going to go to hell? Writer's hell? Probably, but not because I don't believe in some superstitious, antiquated concept that a writer can only write when the fickle muse is present, that those brilliant ideas are only possible when she/he is around, buzzing in your ear, whispering delicious secrets. It's ludicrous. Why would you give credit or place blame on something/someone that doesn't exist?

No, more like when we can't write it's because we're lazy, pure and simple,and we all suffer from it now and again.

Now, I do believe in writer's block, meaning lack of motivation, which I equate with the same notion as laziness. Well, they're in the same family anyway. You know that feeling you get where it's pure torture to write anything? I've experienced it and it sucks but I didn't place the blame on some fictional muse. I blamed myself and rightly so, I was the cause of my lack of motivation, or at least my hectic life was anyway. To blame the muse seems to me like another cop-out that writers use to shift the focus away from themselves, to say, no sorry I couldn't write today, the muse wasn't speaking to me. Lame. Just tell it like it is, no sorry, I didn't write today cause I didn't feel like it. End of story.

Maybe you haven't met anyone who speaks that way but I have, especially now that I've become involved in a few different on-line writing forums and communities. There are more of them out there than you think. I call them The Muse People (insert eye rolling here).

Do I think that sometimes it's easier to write than other times? Sure! Sometimes the words and ideas flow and aren't stunted by stress or depression or life and that's great, but am I willing to give anyone other than myself the credit for that? Heck no! My ability and drive to write rests solely within myself, that includes the bad times as well as the good. Outside forces can influence that for sure but that's not to say I'm going to blame anyone else for them. Especially not the muse!

Some would argue that this is a figure of speech, that waiting for the muse to strike is a metaphor, that I shouldn't be so dense, to which I reply, (with my middle finger cocked and ready) get your head out of your ass, you pompous jerk...I know it's a metaphor, what bothers me is how many writers use it as a legitimate excuse for not producing anything. Be honest; it's not some dead Greek goddess, it's you, it's all about you.

Thanks for letting me rant.


  1. LOL, to true Angela. To be honest I think that a lot of people like to blame the lack of muse as it makes them seem more artsy.

    There's quite a few writers who follow your own belief and do the hard slog and write every day because its something that they love to do. Some days they'll write a load of codswollop, others they'll get something that they can use but thats the key, finding a method that works for you and sticking with it.

    If we all waited for a certain Mz Muse to turn up we'd all have a BDSM writing room with full on handcuff facilities that only Houdini could escape from. LOL

  2. I love your rant - because its true. My friend said to me: "I had no idea writing a book was such hard work." It's not MAGIC! It's (insert foul language of choice) hours and hours of relentless work. Sure - being in "the zone" is a great feeling, but some days you need to drag yourself into "the zone". No excuses.

  3. Some writers write every day and produce workmanlike prose that is good but not inspired. Some of those writers are very successful too. I respect their tenacity.

    Some writers produce brilliant stuff but very sporatically. And I should add that what often appears to be brilliantly spontaneous is the result of much revision and editing. For example, a writer friend of mine produces short stories VERY slowly, but each story is a polished gem.

    It's not always possible be inspired no matter how much one wills it or works for it. But doing nothing results in nothing.

  4. Wow! Did someone's muse bite you in the ass today? LOL

    Like, Gareth said, I think some writers feel like they need to be "artsy" to be a true writer. I don't know that I've ever blamed or credited a muse, but it doesn't bother me when others do it. Poets are welcome to live by their muses, but novelists...not so much. It's do or die somedays.

  5. Rewriting this since I just closed the window by mistake:

    No agreements here, at least on the "muse" front. Good call. I agree that while some people may feel more "inspired" at certain times, that's no excuse to wait to write for the "muse" to strike.

    As far as your writer's block idea, though, I would say it does not exist. You call it laziness or lack of motivation, both of which I definitely believe exist - though I'm not sure if I would consider them the same thing - but I don't think that's the same as writer's block. Writer's block is a imaginary concept of an actual "block" in creative that was made up as a word in order to make it easy NOT to write if "the muse" isn't striking.

  6. You know what, Angela? I find that sometimes, when I really don't feel like writing, it's when my proses work best. And when I have a free day to write, my work sucks.
    I don't believe in a Muse either, I think they're overrated.

  7. LOL, I agree with you :) I have a muse, it's my horse, but honestly, she's not around all the time. She gives me a lot of inspiration, but I can and usually do write when she's not around. LOL. I call her my muse because she inspires me, not because she sits in my office with me when I write.

    And writer's block, I agree with that too. My friend was complaining about writers block about a week ago. I finally told her to just sit down and write damn it. And guess what, it worked :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. I loved the rant Angela. There are times the words flow easily, times I have to push forward to get something done when I don't want to and times I just don't want to write. There's nothing wrong with that.

    It's probably normal and all part of human nature. Muse...I haven't found one yet. If my mind can't come up with an idea, damn good reason not to write. I can't wait for some imaginary character to strike, I'd never get anything done.

    There are times I'm lazy too, and would rather read than write, but I know that's just being lazy. Easier to read than to think and create. Good post, excellent blog!