Monday, February 21, 2011

My Muse is Kind of a Bitch

by Laura Bickle

I've always been envious of people who have good relationships with their muses. There are writers who have healthy relationships with their muses. They take their muses out on coffee dates, have long conversations at the beach while holding hands. Their muses arrive when summoned, sprinkling fairy dust and waving magic wands. They whisper with gossamer voices, reassuring and gentle. Words flow on paper, inspired and brilliant.

This is not my muse.

My muse is a....well, she's difficult. I suspect that she may have been kicked out of Tooth Fairy school for bad behavior and was assigned muse duty as penance for raiding the cash drawer. She's surly, unpredictable, and wholly unrepentant about being AWOL.

It's not that I've tried. I did all the rituals suggested to make friends with my muse. I have a writing nook set up. I played music. I lit candles. I wrote down statements of intention. Made dream boards. Meditated.

Nada. My muse laughed at my dream board, used the candles to light a cigarette, and complained that the desk was too small. She sat on the edge of the desk in her torn fishnet stockings and bitched about the lighting. And she used all my lipstick.

So I tried to bribe her. I bought her chocolates, made offerings of flowers. I acted like a Shakespearean actor in love, trying to woo her attentions.

She prompty informed me that she didn't like caramel and that my poetry sucked. I think that she also blew smoke in my face and told me I needed to lose weight.

Eventually, I gave up trying to be nice. I was spending a lot of time and energy courting inspiration, and she didn't want to be courted. I asked the benevolent universe for a new muse, but my request was denied. I was stuck with the surly muse who spent more time teasing her hair and sticking gum under my desk than helping me with my novel.

So...I decided to wage war on my muse.

"We are going to write this book, whether you want to or not," I told her. "I have a deadline."

"Oh, yeah?" She watched me with narrowed eyes covered in purple eyeliner. "Just try it, Chickie."

I threw a butterfly net over her, tied her to the chair, and sat on her. She yowled like an aggravated cat and got glitter all over the floor.

But her ass was in the chair. And so was mine. Lo and behold, writing occurred. And it was not bad writing.

I realized something...all this chasing inspiration was really meaningless for me. The only key to success was getting my butt in the chair and doing it, whether inspiration had struck me or not. I could be passive about it, and wait for my muse to bless me with insight...or I could just get to work.

Image: Dundee Photographics /


  1. Your muse and my self-doubt should get together and go bar-hopping. I think Ms. Self-Doubt strangled my muse years ago, so maybe she could do the same for you and they'd give you a new one. (YMMV - I'm still waiting on my replacement.)

  2. I think your muse and my muse are cousins. Mine tends to sulk and get sneak though.

  3. Just love the image of the biting, scratching fairy tied to the chair. Glitter is a bitch to clean up, too.

  4. ~dying laughing~ Loved this post. I guess Butt in Chair, Fingers on Keys applies to muses just as much as humans. Nice job of coercion there, but Jeffe's right - glitter is a bitch to clean up.

  5. Hee hee Oh man. That muse would likely prefer a chocolate martini to actual chocolates. :D

  6. Yeah, this is how I have to do it too. The muse only helps those who help themselves, you know? Even if you're churning out crap to start with, that's better than writing nothing.

  7. Maybe we could round up all of our inner critics and editors, bad muses, and embodiment of self-doubt...and send them all out bar-hopping together? With them gone, we might actually get some work done. ;-)

    I dunno. I guess I've read tons of books on connecting with one's creative spirit, writing for the pleasure of writing in a non-judgmental space, etc...but it never worked for me. Not ever.

    I think that the only time my muse cooperates is when I'm two or three hours into a writing session. She leans over my shoulder, takes her cigarette out of her mouth, and puffs a ring of smoke at me.

    "Not bad, Chickie."

    That's the sum total of the affirmation I get.

  8. Great post!
    I must try this with my owner: tie her to a chair and force her to write my zombie story ;-)

  9. My muse has ADHD. "Yeah, we're doing great on this sto- Speaking of stories, I wanna write something like THIS!" Half-way through the new story she suddenly giggles and says, "Oh, you know what I just thought of? A story that goes like this!" Gah!

    Great post, for the record. Had me laughing so hard.

  10. Sullivan, I understand that approach worked for a certain salamander. ;-)

    DF, thanks! At least your muse will cough up some ideas. Mine is too sullen to say much of anything.

  11. Just to follow-up, Marcella and I were discussing a plot point of mine and me listening to my gut. To bring our two posts together: I was trying to force my story, akin to sitting on my muse while she bites me in the ass.

    You're welcome.

  12. There is a tension between going with the gut and forcing it, isn't there? Intuition versus rolling up the sleeves.

    I know that it's not a popular position, but I have to go with force most of the time. I *want* to believe that writing is easy, that it just flows from the heart...but that's not usually my experience.

  13. Meh. 'Supposed to' my foot. It is what it is, right? So long as the words get out of your head and onto some form of page, you're doing your bit.

  14. At least...until there is software available that can transfer the pictures in our heads onto the page...hrm...

  15. It's the purple eyeliner, isn't it? Dark purple, light purple, Violet-You're-Turning-Violet-Violet purple... it is such a giveaway that you're a Tooth Fairy drop out.

    Now, green eyeliner... that's some shiznet.