Why I Don’t Have a Muse

In keeping with my goal of doing more posts on writing…

I am not a-mused:

A lot of writers talk about their “muse” — a semi-mystical apparition within their psyche from which all their creativity springs.* Some view their muse as more of an abstract concept, while others actually imagine them as people and could give descriptions of them that would satisfy a police sketch artist.

The muses of Greek mythology*(As an aside, writers may also use “muse” to refer to an actual person who helps get them inspired, but this is not the phenomenon I’m referring to in this post. “Muse” is also the name of a band whose music I loathe.)

However, I’ve always strongly disliked the concept of a muse.

Now, I’m not knocking people with muses. If this particular psychological construct works for you, then that’s fine. But I want nothing to do with it.

I feel that accepting the concept of a muse is giving up your power as a writer, and to me, it feels like it cheapens the rather intense level of effort that goes into writing. I didn’t come up with that plot; it was my muse. I didn’t come up with that character; it was my muse.

I’m sorry, but no mythic muse in my head is responsible for any of my novels or stories. Those came from nothing but pure blood, sweat, and tears, and sitting around waiting for a bolt of divine inspiration had nothing to do with any of it.

Another painting of the Muses of Greek mythologyThis all ties into how I view the writing process, which differs significantly from how most other writers seem to.

Many writers seem to view writing as, again, an almost mystic process. They view themselves as channeling divine truth from some unknown beyond — perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but this is the impression they leave me with.

Most writers seem to feel they share kinship with things like poets, mystics, mediums, and the like. I view myself as sharing kinship with carpenters, potters, and tailors. A carpenter takes wood and, through hard work and dedication, crafts it into furniture that is both beautiful and functional. I take words and fashion them into prose that is, I hope, readable and enjoyable.

To me, writing is a craft, not a spiritual experience. It’s about putting in the hours, not reaching some indefinable plateau of perfect human insight. It’s about being a grinder; it’s about gettin’ ‘er done.

A carpenter at workTreating writing as something spiritual or mystical just feels like it fails to recognize the very real work that goes into writing. Writing is an art, but it’s also a job. It’s something you get up every day and do, whether you want to or not.

So that’s why I refuse to accept the presence of a muse in my life. I’m not giving any of the credit for my work to some imaginary wellspring of inspiration. Anything I have ever accomplished as a writer comes down to nothing but me and the blank page, and a lot of hard work.

Ultimately, perhaps it’s the reliance on oneself that made me choose to be a writer. All my successes and my failures are solely my own, with no one else to blame or give away credit to. Same reason I’m a soloist in World of Warcraft — I hate the feeling of being carried, in any reality.

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One thought on “Why I Don’t Have a Muse

  1. I’m reminded of a saying that goes something like this,” if you have a hero, you have in a small way deminished your self worth”.

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