Monday, June 13, 2011

girl meets muse

Last week I wrote about my first love; as I mentioned in the piece, I wrote an entire first draft of a novel in my ensuing heartbrokeness (word? spellcheck says no, I say yes!). One of the great silver linings of life as a writer is that horrible situations and their concurrent mess of emotions can make for excellent fodder for your work and serve a purpose greater than just making you miserable. Indeed, many of the worst experiences serves as the most inspirational. It also made me think about how I have traditionally begun the process of working on a novel (I can say traditionally now since I am at number four); in each case, it's been sparked by a close encounter with a muse.

I've led an interesting life and met lots of fascinating people--no small number of whom have influenced my characters. But a muse is something more; a muse is a person who not only serves as inspiration for this other world of mine but who seems to have actually come from it. Someone who, for whatever reason, so fascinates and mystifies me that they seem not quite real and I can't shake the feeling that I'm making them up, that the madness is finally setting in. A telltale sign is when I can't imagine them grocery shopping. The way to any writer's heart is through their imagination--you captivate this and you've got us.

A muse is not necessarily a person of the opposite sex but mine often are. What could be more mysterious than the opposite sex? They are human just like you and yet not like you at all. The sexes will never figure each other out--we were designed to mystify one another. An attraction is possible, even likely. But to ever act on it is dicey not only because you necessarily idealize this person but because any relationship that so closely treads the border between your imagined world and your actual one is dangerous territory. And to see a muse's all too human side is to break the spell and risk losing the inspiration they've brought you. Simply put, some things are just better left to the imagination.

Who inspires you?

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