Thriller, suspense, and horror author Jason P. Henry wrote a post about muses for the Blood Red Pencil blog last week. The piece is called Seeking the Muse, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
After many paragraphs to feed our fantasy about the muse and how much we need her, Jason says (right after revealing the shocking news that writer’s block doesn’t exist):
“The muse is a farce, a ghost, she’s more fictional than your novel.”
As I wrote in the comment section:
I do have a “muse.” She looks like that green-faced wicked witch in Wizard of Oz, and she sits on my shoulder and pokes me in the head with the broom handle while viciously berating me. She never gives me ideas because I have plenty of my own, but she makes my life miserable when I’m not working on one of my writing projects.
Really, she looks just like that (in my wild imagination), and she’s totally responsible for my current pain and suffering.
She needs to back off while I get a bunch of other important stuff done so I have plenty of time to write.
Like read the novels by Stuart Neville and Harlan Coben I checked out of the library (and must return when they’re due because others have them on Hold).
Like shopping for new carpet (the stairs and landing are becoming threadbare–it’s embarrassing).
Like having coffee with this friend and lunch with that friend.
Like taking the cat outside for a walk in her harness and leash.
Like spraying weeds.
I’m doing some sort-of, kind-of writing-related stuff, too.
Like lining up more wonderful guest authors for my blog (Jason, are you interested?)
Like editing and scheduling for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Blog.
Like following progress in the formation of a new Sisters in Crime chapter for Colorado.
Like thinking about pitching my completed historical novel to an agent at the Colorado Gold Conference in September.
Like thinking about my three works in progress: one first draft that needs revising and editing; one almost finished first draft that needs additional chapters and lots and lots of revision; and the new project (because the new ideas keep muscling out the half-finished projects). Notice I said I’m thinking about these wips, not actually working on them.
Can you imagine how bad my headache is when you consider the number of times per day my muse bangs that broom handle against my head?
I think many writers consider the muse to be an idea-generator.
I don’t agree. I think she’s my conscience.
I’m the one who decided I wanted to be a writer after I retired from real-world work, and her job is to keep reminding me…even if she gives me a headache.
How do you picture your muse? What is her role in your writing life?
(Note: Jason P. Henry is a Coloradoan and is going to be conference director for the 2016 Pikes Peak Writing Conference).