Musing on Muses and Why You May Not Need One
A lot of writers speak respectfully of their Muse. Me, not so much.
I’m not a believer in the concept of the muse when it comes to writing. If I had waited for a muse like Calliope to appear, I would never have written five novels. Plus, on a visceral level, I don’t trust the idea of a muse meddling in my process.
Years ago, I studied music composition with Professor Joseph Packeles. One day when we were discussing the process of composition, he told me, “If the music comes spewing out of you, that’s not healthy. You want to control the flow.”
For the most part, I have found this policy applies to writing stories as well. Because as an author of fiction, I am not a conduit for the words. I am making them up. And it’s darn hard work.
Often, applying seat of pants to seat of chair makes me whine and cuss. And sometimes even when the words come easily, the result makes me wince. Unclear. Vague. Filled with avoidance. But at least those lousy words are mine. Not Calliope’s. Or Erato’s. Or even Euturpe’s.
On the other hand, sometimes the best way to write is not to write at all.
As a teen, I worked as a gardener for a few months. It taught me patience. But more, it taught me to appreciate the value of the waiting. Because the waiting period is when the real action happens – underground, where you can’t see or hear it.
It’s a miracle that only works if you don’t meddle.
The seed needs time to crack its tough shell, to figure out which way the sun is, to convert the elements of the soil which surrounds it into fuel for growth. And it can’t do these things if it keeps getting dug up and inspected.
Gardens are about the deliciousness of waiting. Waiting for risk of frost to pass. For seeds to root. For rain to fall. And always, always waiting for the blossom to open, the fruit to appear and ripen.
One part of writing, almost before the beginning, is like this – a kind of germination of an idea. But the idea only germinates if you let it stay undisturbed in the dark for a bit. And that means waiting. Not waiting for Calliope to show up, but waiting for the idea to be ready to grow into a story.
That kind of waiting is a miracle too.
Rose Grey has written five romance novels and is hard at work on a new series. If you like free stories, subscribe to Rose’s newsletter www.rosegreybooks.com. Your subscription comes with a free sweet contemporary short, lots of fun info about upcoming books and occasional delicious recipes. The Closer You Get, All Of Me, Waiting For You, Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.