We all know that famous, “Sing to me, O Muse,” line from The Odyssey (though you may know it by its other title, Area Man Just Wants to Go Home). And while I make the occasional passing reference to Calliope & Co., it’s because I like making nerd jokes. I’m not actually beseeching Calliope for anything.
In fact, I don’t have a muse.
How do I even survive?? With no muse, how do I come up with ideas? Whence do I draw inspiration? How do I make words go real good?
Funny story, that…
When I was a wee young thing (okay, twelve), I got it into my head that I wanted to be a writer. I had read Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series ragged and at some point, I realised that with enough practice, I could write something, too. But with no ideas and no writing skills and no real idea of how to start, all I could really do was sit around and think about what life would be like once I was a writer. I sat around daydreaming of a life of writerly fame and glory, and I practiced my interviews in the mirror, and I waited for a muse to come down and bless me with a million-dollar idea.
what no i never do that anymore
No ideas of any worth came. Ever. Then, one day, I saw a motivational poster with this Jack London quote on it:
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
At twelve, this was the most inspirational and hilarious thing I had ever read. I thought about it for days. I kept it close. And when I finally did come up with an idea for a novel (not a million-dollar one, but a decent one to start with), I decided that I wasn’t going to sit on my hands and wait for a muse to gift me with an idea ever again. I didn’t want to let someone/something (is a muse a person or a thing? I guess it can be either?) control my writerly dreams.
Do I still sit on my hands waiting for ideas to come to me? Sure. All the time. But by rejecting the idea of a muse, I’ve taken responsibility for my writerly problems. Not to disrespect Homer’s writing methods, but when it comes to inspiration, I prefer to rely on myself and my trusty club.
Do you have a muse, or do you prefer the “club your problems to death” method? Is there a particular thing that inspires you to write?