Monday, 6 August 2012

What is a Muse?

What exactly is a muse? What form does it manifest, if any? Do we, as creative types, all have a muse? Is it part of who we are, and if indeed 'the muse' is missing, is an individual capable of being creative?

I'm asking these questions as I've felt my writing inspiration, for want of a better word, 'missing'? This doesn't mean I cannot write, otherwise I wouldn't be here now. No, what I am saying is that flow, that 'mind pump' (as David Gemmell once called it in a letter he wrote to me), has gone very still and quiet.

I recall the days of my dungeon mastering, starting back when I was 22 years old and onwards. My creativity was rampant. I was fire and enthusiasm. My mind a vivid cinema screen playing out every encounter, scanning every vista and fleshing out every npc. I was not only creating these things, but I was feeling them, experiencing the cold, windswept winds out of the tundra as they bent the tree tops in the valley below, causing huddled villagers sat round their fires, secure in their pathetic little homes to offer up a prayer to the deities they assumed watched over them, or even cared about them. I was also the prowling wolf outside their cattle pens, and the mercenary staring out of a cave mouth with eyes full of hunger and blood.

This was my muse: the passion, the excitement, the love, the energy and innocent ignorance of my youth, and also the wonderful friends I made back in those fantastic times - Master Wayne Assiratti of Random Stream of Consciousness, being one of several of my more long-standing, and original founding group members, and friend - I now know that all those elements, and those wonderful people were my muse back then. For without them and those elements combined, I wouldn't be here now, and you wouldn't be reading these words. Here is a 'thank you' dedicated to all of them.

But what of now?

When I sat my degree in graphic design I was the oldest guy in the class by far - teaching staff not included - but being surrounded by creativity, feeding off the collective energy produce by everyone as a group, I had no problem dreaming ideas and solutions to the problems posed by our tutors. I now know that that was my muse back then.

So recently? Take for example my poem 'Numb', now this came as a result of several things: the word, the emotion, the moment. All combined to produce that poem written in one sitting of less than twenty minutes. I felt as if a door had been opened up inside me and the words flowed, wrapped in emotion and feeling, and watered by, dare I say it, the odd tear or three. I was connected to the moment. Was this MY muse?

Can a muse be regained, or is it something fleeting that we have to accept? Are they spiritual? Is there a multitude of spiritual muses that visit us when they deem us worthy of inspiration, and touch us with their beauty of imagination?

I know that throughout history great artists, writers, and poets has cited their models, loved ones, friends and even their lovers, as their muse. This I can also understand. I have a very close and dear friend who has inspired me, gently pushed me and often caused me to question ideas, methodology and approach to things like my writing, often offering support when I didn't know I needed it, and quite often failing to even recognise it when given. Could they be my muse?

So, is it spiritual, mental, physical? Or everything wrapped up neatly all in one happy little inconspicuous package? Personally I don't think it is a constant. With creativity I know that to draw more you need to draw, to write you need to write more, to paint you need to paint more, ad infinitum.

This is also where I have a problem with even beginning to think of myself as a 'writer'. If I were a writer, then surely I would be writing, no matter what? I should be living, thinking, breathing writing. Shouldn't I also carry a notepad and pen with me where ever I go should the 'muse' touch me?

No, I don't. And I feel bad at times for not doing so, and there are times when I consider myself to be merely a 'dabbler' - not even up to the standard of company I keep within the beautiful blogoverse that has offered me comfort, friendship and inspiration. For that simple reason I cannot, nor could not, call myself a 'writer'.

I hope any of you reading this can offer an insight to your thoughts on the concept of a muse, and even if you feel you have one, or two (oooh, so greedy!), as I'd love to read what you have to say - if anything - on the subject and how it does, or doesn't, affect you and your creativity.

To round this off, here is a video of the band 'Muse' and their song 'Uprising' - thank you for reading :)


Hana said...

Molly Crabapple suggestions;

Mina Lobo said...

We creators are our own Muses. Sometimes the river flows, others, the well runs dry. It's the nature of things, in my opinion. I also feel that, so long as we never say to ourselves, "All right, enough," our self-Muses will always linger, waiting to be recalled to duty. Sometimes, you couldn't possibly care less whether the Muse still breathes. But, when we're ready and we think our Muses aren't, we just have to keep calling and showing up, ready for action. I believe that, eventually, the Muse gets into the habit of turning up. And if not, go find her/him/it, drag its lazy hide back to the campfire, and make that puppy roast you up some S'mores. (Assuming you Brits have S'mores over there. Otherwise, I dunno...beans on toast?) ;-)

Rise up and take the power back, Mark!
Some Dark Romantic

Mark K said...

S'mores - I know that dirty little beast: chocolate dipped roasted marshmallow... mmmm! I can feel the calories as I type :)

Great sentiments, Mina. In part I agree. I suppose the muse is something akin to luck - for the better part you create your own, the rest, well that's down to whatever.

JoJo said...

I used to be very influenced by the natural beauty in Washington. I just like being surrounded with all my fave things. Being in a good mood and happy helps a lot.

Mark K said...

Very true, JoJo - I always find that when out walking our dog, Darcy, my mind seems free to create ideas and feels far less inhibited.

Deborah Walker said...

I love that feeling when the words are flowing. It doesn't happen nearly enough. I write every day, whatever the feeling. Ain't I a good girl?

The interesting question is, is the quality of the story better when the muse has you in his embrace. The intuitive answer is yes, but a lot of professional writers disagree.

LucidDion said...

You can always use a random generator to help kickstart idea, like

Mark K said...

Yes, such a good girl - in fact, a better one than I... writer, that is ;)
But yes, it's an amazing experience when the words are flowing, and I agree with your sentiments 100%.

Mark K said...

Interesting approach, but not sure if I'd feel comfortable using such a device?

michelle said...

I wrote a post sometime last year on this very topic...
I'm going to link the post directly to this comment, so you can check it out if you have some time...

Mark K said...

Excellent, I would appreciate that very much - it'll be interesting to read your post and the responses it generated :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Ernest Hemingway said if you sat down and wrote the truest sentence you could think of that it would help. Whether or not it tied into your story was unimportant. For that true sentence did, indeed, tie into your story in a way your unconscious mind knew but your conscious one did not.

Reading an excerpt from a novel of one of your favorites sometimes help. Reading quotes from say PETER'S QUOTATIONS often helps me. Thanks for visiting my blog today and staying to talk a bit, Roland

Mark K said...

You are most welcome sir - trying to ease back into the swing of things after my self-imposed hiatus. I'll be doing the rounds again soon :)