Taming the Muse

Monday, October 09, 2006
I was talking to a friend of mine earlier today who told me that she hadn't had lunch yet because her "muse had her by throat". I knew exactly what she meant.

Muses appear generally benevolent to other people; writers know better. They are persistent taskmasters who demand nothing less than our undivided attention when they have something to say.

The joyous part comes when you become solely the conduit for the work: when your characters speak to you in your head, conducting entire conversations among themselves without your prompting, and then they act of their own accord without (or in spite of) your stage direction.

I don't know about other writers, but I often find it difficult to keep mine focused. I stopped counting the number of writing projects I have in progress--and perhaps that's a big part of the problem. My muse might shift from day to day what she wishes to work on. While it certainly can fulfill the "page a day" regimen, it does make for slow progress for specific projects.

I know that the muse can be tamed through the judicious use of a deadline. Too many of those too often, though, and the muse rebels--choosing instead to go off and sulk. (There's few things worse than a sulky muse.)

I begin to wonder . . . Is there a Muse Whisperer out there?