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Consulting Your Writer’s Muse

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Can you imagine what it’s like to raise nine daughters — all goddesses? That was what happened in the ancient Greek myth of the daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus. These days we usually have only one or two baby goddesses per family. Mnemosyne and Zeus produced nine, each of whom presided over a different art or science, offering genius and inspiration. They were the source of human creativity. We know them as the Muses.

Nineteenth-century American novelist Eliza Farnham wrote, “each of the Arts whose office is to refine, purify, adorn, embellish and grace life is under the patronage of a Muse, no god being found worthy to preside over them.”

That makes a Muse pretty handy to have around — especially if you have a serious case of writer’s block.

Have you ever considered finding your Muse? It might make more sense than a book doctor or a thesaurus. Either way, a Muse can’t hurt. Any writer can use an extra dose of genius and inspiration — like chocolate fudge, whipped cream and sprinkles on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Let’s take a closer look at those nine daughters. Who were they? What did they represent?

Calliope – the Muse of epic poetry
Clio – the Muse of history
Erato – the Muse of love poetry
Euterpe – the Muse of music
Melpomene – the Muse of tragedy
Polyhymnia – the Muse of sacred poetry
Terpsichore – the Muse of dance
Thalia – the Muse of comedy
Urania – the Muse of astronomy

As a historical novelist, I prefer Clio and Melpomene. What’s your choice? Perhaps you need help, like with a Muse finder?

There are dozens of Muse finders online. Simply Google the words: Who is Your Muse and you’ll find quizzes, advice, directions — it’s quite a list. They range from identification and marriage to making friends and kissing up. Leslie Owen Wilson from the University of Wisconsin wrote a scholarly article on how to identify and care for your Muse. She included tidbits such as avoiding fatigue and depression (bipolar depression is acceptable because Muses like the manic part) and uncontrollable rage. Google supplies links to websites with quizzes and questions like Do you feed your Muse well? Some sites offer intriguing observations such as: Your Muse is like a sexy teen vampire (or a British Life Coach).

By the time you’re finished sorting through the 26,800,000 bits of Google’s Muse results, you’re better prepared for ice cream than inspiration.

Try another approach. Go to Manhattan and stay at The Muse — a four star hotel only a few steps from Times Square. See if anything emerges from the pillows. Purchase Ryder’s Muse Polar Sunglasses — in crystal root beer or brown snakeskin. If all else fails, slip into Muse shoes or Muse snowboard boots. You never know.

Consider another tactic. Log on to AppMuse and have an app designed just for you. Keep in mind that for the same money you can self-publish several books or perhaps get your work accepted by tiny Siren & Muse Publishing. In your downtime, you can listen to the music of Muse enjoying their appropriately titled Undisclosed Desires. Go back in time and watch the 1999 film The Muse with Sharon Stone and Albert Brooks. Maybe you’ll find a clue.

After all that, if you still haven’t hooked up with a Muse consider Shakespeare’s words, “O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.”

Sit down, close your eyes, and think about the Muse you want. Think really hard. Perhaps tempt it with chocolate chip cookies or jelly donuts? Maybe an order of moo shu pork or a bucket of Buffalo wings, spicy hot? If that doesn’t appeal, settle for a simple bowl of linguini with Alfredo sauce or a sizzling ribeye from your favorite steak house. You may gain pounds instead of inspiration but it’s fun to try. And it’s still cheaper than  an app.

Of course, you might want to listen to another famous artist, Pablo Picasso, who certainly was an expert on the subject. “The muse of inspiration exists… is real,” he said, “but it has to find you working or she won’t share her magic with you.”

Tough words. The reality is that Muses get angry just like us. When the Greek Muses beat the Sirens in a singing contest, they plucked their enemies’ feathers and made them into crowns.  They rewarded other challengers by transforming them into magpies, finches, and ducks. Have you ever considered that it might be more productive being a magpie than a writer?

Perhaps the best way to find your Muse is to… write. Chuck Close, the photorealistic painter and photographer said,  “Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.”

Now that’s a novel approach. Write with or without a Muse – whether you feel like it or not. Put the words on paper, let the story evolve. Rewrite, edit, and rewrite again. Keep at it and in the end, your Muse might emerge when you least expect her.

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About Tracee Gleichner