I’m reading this interesting book by Stephen King that is a mix of personal memoir and writing advice. It’s a very interesting book, even if the language is much more colorful than anything you hear in Provo (except while in traffic, that is).
At one point, Stephen King got off on a tangent and described what his muse would look and act like if he were a living, breathing human being. Interestingly enough, he described his muse as a scruffy, disheveled old man who hangs out in basements and grunts more often than he talks.
That got me to thinking: if my muse were a living, breathing human being, what would she/he look like?
First of all, my muse would definitely be female. Even though women’s minds constantly baffle me, my muse helps me to write and understand my female characters a lot better than most of my male characters. Even though the protagonists in both of the novels I’m writing are male, I think I have a preference for female characters.
My muse is about five years younger than me and three thousand years older. She listens to my intellectual inquiries and philosophical dabblings like a younger sister, but is a lot closer to the pulse and rhythm of this world than I have ever been.
She has a soft spot for Homer and the old Greek epics (I suppose that’s right around the time when she got her start at being a muse), but she’s been deeply in love with space epics since the days of Heinlein, Herbert, and Asimov. In fact, her love of the stars must have started sometime back in the days of the Greeks and Romans, because that seems to be the only thing that’s ever on her mind. She’s definitely a night owl and I think she spends her nights stargazing while I’m asleep.
In contrast with my blunt, forward, and sometimes aggressive manner, she doesn’t really speak to me unless she knows that I’m listening. She doesn’t slap me upside the head to get me working, and she usually doesn’t come to me until I’ve been slaving away for at least half an hour. If I choose not to listen to her, she goes away without an argument.
As much as I love to toy with ideas and systems, she likes to touch, taste, see, and smell things directly with her own senses. She’s the kind of person who would take off her shoes to walk barefoot in the grass, even if it makes her late to where she’s going. She’s easily distracted and she never really lets me know where she’s going until we get there. If I listen to her and follow her, however, she almost always leads me someplace worthwhile.
My muse is very mischievous. Her favorite thing is to inconveniently interrupt me when I’m in the middle of something else to give me flashes of inspiration. I can’t tell you how many crazy ideas I’ve had in the middle of class, or a test, or general conference, or some other important thing. She teases me, too; if I don’t write down what she tells me, she won’t tell it to me a second time until I’ve racked my brain and beaten myself up several times.
My muse looks young and innocent, but don’t be deceived. It’s an act. She’s a wanderer who isn’t likely to settle down anytime soon. Blood, violence, battle, and death excite her. She thinks edgy stories are sexy and gleefully urges me to torture and confuse my characters as much as I can. Still, deep down, I think she wants the good to win out in the end, and the evil to be revealed for what it really is.
I have no idea why she came to me or why she stays with me, but she’s faithfully been with me as long as I can remember. Even though she won’t push me, she won’t let me ignore her either, and I know that whatever I do in life, she’ll be there with me. In some ways, that’s quite a burden, but in other ways, it’s very reassuring.