Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Creative Process: My Muse

My muse is a bitch. Harsh? You don't know her. (And I'm using the b*word here in the vernacular of the day to mean any girl who isn't sweet like us;) Some days my muse is my BFF, other time she's not to be found and probably at a mani/pedi appointment. But the b* is mine and mostly I love the little scamp.

OK, so here's the situation: I'm writing what's known of my crazy-wonderful family history: it's a book project. Want to get the stories down for future generations. Have a working title, an outline, a prologue, and am into the meat of The Introduction. The Introduction is falling out into three distinct parts: the why and how of the book, the family groups, and a short description of the two grandmother's kitchens. Except, not in that order. There was a fourth section about Frostburg, Maryland which is the theme of the book but that's sitting like a Christmas lump of coal in my writer's stocking so it's getting worked on separately.

The three sections of the intro were written in a sort of stream of consciousness and then edited a bit to clean up the gross stuff. Once that was done I put it on the back burner to simmer. I think it boiled over while my Muse went to Miami Beach for a short time to renew her tan, and now that she's back she's scolding me and saying that the order needs to change, any fool can see. But she went for the mani/pedi before she left a note to say what the best order was. B*! Maybe I can do this without her...? Doubt it. She's be back soon, she always is.

My personal creative process has always been like that, no matter the media. I can make all the schedules I want from here to next year (oh wait, short trip;) and devote myself to "regular hours" but it's all for naught if the Muse isn't ready. For me and the way I work, I have to laugh every time I hear a presenter talking about getting your family history written say, "write for a half-hour a day at a given time". Ha! Not gonna work for me, I've tried.

And the funny thing is that I have learned over the years to give my muse room to roam because when she's gone something is cooking and I need to wait around and be patient for the good stuff to come: something big is on the way. I just leave it be and every once in a bit turn a casual thought to the project to see what's up. I find that she returns on no regular schedule but when she comes back, she has great input.

Ever program yourself to solve a problem while dreaming? You just think on a problem or concept or whatever as you go off to sleep and overnight it's quite possible some very clever ideas will come to you. As we all know, especially if we've tried this, it's important to write down what you dream before the night fairies steal the thoughts from under your pillow:)

I first became aware of my muse while reading a book by Eric Maisel. He's written a whole bunch of stuff about the creative process and you'll find his web site here:
The first one I read was, Fearless Creating. You'll find his page with a write up on that book at: , and of course there's a click through to Amazon and Barnes and Noble if you wish to purchase it. It really helped me at the time I needed it to better understand that I wasn't a crazy or lazy artist! I was just an average run of the mill creative person so no need to beat up on myself for unusual work habits.

As frustrating as it might get every now and again creating a work, I know that the trouble will pass, and eventually with patience all will eventually be well. And the work will be better for the pause taken.That said, everyone has a different and unique-to-them creative process. Hope your muse is a sweetheart ... with a regular schedule. Mine is a wild child.

Photo of the day from the Archive:

Me, about 1951:
Muse in training?
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  1. I think it's so important to realize that your muse will return instead of getting anxious, worried, discouraged, depressed about it taking a little side trip. Sounds like you've succeeded, Diane. Best wishes for the new year.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Nancy! And a Happy New Year to you:) Diane