Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Personifying the Muse (or, how the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog revealed my total lack of imagination)

This month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question came from Deb: How would you personify your muse?"

Laura answered this question two weeks ago, and Lydia took her turn last week. Both of their posts were brilliant, and I have no doubt Deb's will be as well.

As for me ... I could have tried to be cute and make something up. But have you read Lydia's post? Trying to be cute after what may have been the cutest post ever ... seemed lame. So instead, you guys will get honesty. (sorry)

A "muse" is a source of inspiration. The Muses were Greek goddesses who inspired creation of literature and art. They were personifications of inspiration, like Deb's talking about. For the past three weeks, I've been thinking about that.

It just doesn't work for me.

So I thought about why.

And here it is:  When I was in training, I had a family therapy supervisor who said, "Don't think about one person or the other. Think about what's between them." I spent several co-therapy sessions eying that space between while listening to him work with them. Now that's how I think about things all the time. I'm not really inspired by any one person, nor am I satisfied at the thought of cramming my inspiration into a single imaginary being.

I am inspired by interaction. The space between two people. The possibility. The chaos. One person alone can think and do great things. Two people? Ah. Infinite potential.

The space between two people can produce stories. Or, at least, the kind of stories I want to write. It drives me to build worlds in my head--just to create an atmosphere that supports the interaction between two people. So their voices don't echo or die; so they can hear each other. So they can tear each other apart and stitch each other up. So they can do entirely unpredictable things.

That space crackles with electricity and is awash with poison and passion. It is striped with chasms of misunderstanding and filled with oceans of sacrifice. Every moment, every situation, every word, every bit of interpersonal and individual history makes the terrain more intricate and vast.

There you have it. If I had to personify my muse, it would not be one person. Or two people. It would be the space between them.

So, er, I hope that doesn't seem like a cop out.

How about you? Do you have a muse out there in the world? If not, could you personify the source of your inspiration? And if not--what is the source of your inspiration?

30 comments:

  1. I think I like your description of Inspiration best, actually. Like you, I can't perceive of the Muse being like a person. It's more of an emptiness that needs to be filled.

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  2. I think it's kind of neat to have your muse be the 'space' between two people. I think my muse changes with each project. My first muse was Julie Andrews...don't ask.

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  3. Okay, given that I'm a half of a writing partnership, this post speaks to me tremendously. I am always inspired by the collision of ideas that happens between me and Trisha. If they were simply my ideas, or hers, they might not be nearly as dynamic...but the two of us create something entirely different. Something that can't be accomplished with just one of our minds. For some reason, I really love that idea. Great post - really great.

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  4. Okay. This makes a lot of sense, actually and what inspires you is often the types of thing that inspire me. Relationships, what is said or not said between people. What is there or missing. What is possible or could have been. So yeah, my ideas come from all over but def not a single person or place. Yet I still say muse as it seems to sum up that place where my ideas originate. Huh. Funny.

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  5. Also, yay, I can post in blogger again!:)

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  6. I can not wait to read your books, Sarah. The spaces between. Yes. Exactly.

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  7. People love to talk about their muse as if it's a real person. My muse is me. There's no one tapping on my shoulder (but if there was, he'd be darn hot. Okay, maybe not. That would be too distracting). When I'm stuck on something, I don't blame my "muse" for being difficult. I go for a run or talk to my CP.

    Love your concept of a muse, Sarah.

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  8. I wonder if this is a girl thing, making your muse into a character. I don't do it, personally, probably because I'm too busy making up actual characters, but I will admit I know some writers who are very good at it, and I've seen some hilarious posts about what their muses were like.

    But none of them were written by dudes. Not that there'd be anything wrong with it if a dude did do this. I just haven't seen it.

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  9. That's like way heavy and deep. I love it. It's an intriguing thought. Kind of like what really turns me on about someone is the chemistry I have with them, not who they are in particular.
    But I do not personify my muse. I simply consider inspiration my muse. And I'm inspired by just about everything and anything, as long as I'm open to it and not clouded with distractions. For me, that is key.

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  10. I've never thought of personifying my muse or really of having one.

    But I find the interactions between people to be fascinating and that fuels my writing (and reading) so YES!

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  11. You give yourself far too little credit. My silly post was just silly; yours gets to the meat of things. Excellent!

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  12. I have a muse/inner critic combo, although she tends to enjoy the inner critic portion of the job description the best. LOL To me she looks acts like Endora, on Bewitched -- that perfect lip curl of disdain keeps me motivated. :)

    And the interaction you mention is the reason I love writing romance. :) There's nothing more intriguing to me than how people interact, especially when they're perfect for each other and don't recognize it--at first.

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  13. OK? I guess I'll fess up here...I have a voice in me that often wants to say outrageous and often inappropriate things. Sometimes I've had to stuff a sock in her mouth. Thankfully, she found a place in my blog, but even there, I have to edit her.

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  14. Sarah, this is brilliant. "The space between, crackling with electricity and awash with poison and passion..." WOWZERS! Great writing, my friend. Like Misty P. I can't wait to read your books.

    @Matt: I'm up for the challenge, bro. Personified Muse post coming from a dude (eventually!)

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  15. Ooooh! Your muse is pure human energy! I like that.

    Hmm. I need to concentrate on the space between people more.

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  16. Oooooh, I like this explanation--I agree 100%, that the interaction carries all the energy. LOVELY!

    This is DEFINITELY NOT a cop-out. ;)

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  17. Great post!

    I can't say I've ever really thought about my muse: I definitely haven't personified her*. But my inspiration often comes from societal interactions, especially those between rigid social groups. I absolutely adore watching people, and trying to hear what they can't or won't actually say out loud. You love the space between--I often love the words left unspoken.

    But if my muse were to take over the keyboard right now, she'd say she loved music. Any and all kinds. And that it was a major, major source of inspiration. :)

    *She's got to be a female. Isn't that a rule, like with ships and stuff? LOL.

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  18. I think this is a WONDERFUL take on the muse. The space between two people. What I'm gettnig from this is that your books are going to be very emotionally satisfying. And wow, you have a lovely way w/words. :)

    My fave sentence: That space crackles with electricity and is awash with poison and passion.

    OMG, talk about a feast for the mind. Loved that.

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  19. Talk about reading between the lines! Can I borrow your muse? :)

    Mine is an elusive creature. She slithers around the corner just when I catch up, but she always leaves me some breadcrumbs.

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  20. And you were worried it wouldn't compare to other people's posts? All of you are so creative! I love the idea of the space between being your muse.

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  21. I need a Muse like this one. ^_^

    http://www.webcomicsnation.com/supernaturallaw/slaw/series.php?view=archive&chapter=48989&mpe=1&fromwhich=1&direction=f

    Laurie

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  22. Sarah, this description is so brilliant that I think, when you develop your book's marketing materials, you should use this paragraph to explain how you created your story: "Th(e) space (between two people) crackles with electricity and is awash with poison and passion. It is striped with chasms of misunderstanding and filled with oceans of sacrifice. Every moment, every situation, every word, every bit of interpersonal and individual history makes the terrain more intricate and vast." Awesome.

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  23. I get a lot of story ideas from dreams, so my muse would have to be something associated with dreams. Maybe it's the camel-dog from that one dream I had a while back...

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  24. Go for it, Mike! I'd love to see what you come up with.

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  25. wow. this is so much to think about. thank you!

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  26. This is a very interesting post. My muse is not one person or one thing. It's many people and many things at different times. Make sense? In other words, I think I find inspiration in so many ways--perhaps it is the space between?

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  27. I think that's a fabulous answer!! It's an important point - one I might even consider blogging about. The dynamic between two people can (and very often) is different than each as individuals. But you know - I was originally going into Social Psych so I'm kind of with you there. :D Oh and I named my muse George. I don't think he minds. I hope not. (Kidding)

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  28. I like the idea of the dynamics between two people. We are so much more when we're with others.

    I need to be in a good frame of mind to be inspired. My daughter offers the most hugs and encouragement and my cat sits on my lap often when writing. I've decided they're my muses.

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  29. Your muse rocks. Like you, I don't point to any one thing as really inspiring me. Your description of the space in between is as good as I've ever heard it explained. I wish I could point to a particular thing, that it was that easy. I have what I call my "writing muses," but they are really just quiet companions, inanimate sources of continuity in my space. (Three stuffed dragons and a wood spirit, hand carved by my dad). They don't whisper in my ear; they stare at me while I work. :)

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  30. I love your answer! I don't personify my muse - I just write. Reading other people talking about their muse has always made me feel less creative somehow. So, thank you.

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