The Poison of Muses

I made a traumatic discovery: my muse ran away.

If you have any sort of creative bent, you will find you have a muse– a gardening muse, an artistic muse, a dancing muse (which I think would be the most awesome, after the musical muse). Muses are as unique as the people they inspire.

What do you think Dave Grohl's muse looks like?

My muse is tiny. Very tiny, but very radiant. She has many different guises: sometimes she sparks and glitters like  fireworks; sometimes she’s not very bright, but glows and pulsates like an ember in the fire; sometimes she’s a diamond of pure white light. And when she’s with me, as tiny as she is, her essence has the potential to fill and animate me.

I discover she’s missing after I read some beautifully crafted posts on Broadside Blog, Madame Paradox, and Counting Ducks. I recall writing some of my recent posts and realize  my muse hadn’t been with me. The scary thing is, I hadn’t noticed she was gone.

I look for her, but all I find is a rumpled guy, with a face that looks like someone’s pushed it in too hard with the palm of a hand, and a cigar between his teeth. I ask where my muse is.

“I’m it, sister,” he says, not taking the cigar out of his mouth.

“No, you’re Stephen King’s. Where’s mine? I want her back.”

He snorts. “Stephen King’s. You should be so lucky. I’m just a distant relation.” He sits behind a desk and begins shuffling through the papers scattered on it. “Your’s is gone. She couldn’t work under these conditions. I been watching her, waiting for her to crack, so I could move in. You couldn’t have missed her too much. You didn’t even notice she’s gone and I’m here now.”

“But you’re not a muse and you’re definitely no inspiration.”

“Listen sister, you get out of it what you put into it.”

I try to remember the last time I’d seen my muse. As I think back over the past few weeks, I realize her visits had become less frequent, and I had been paying less attention to her. She’d tried to hang on despite the frequent interruptions. It wasn’t that she disliked my family, but she couldn’t work with others around distracting us. And there was the stress. So much stress. It began to lead to impatience, which is sheer poison for a muse.

“Yeah, I’m what you get when you’re in a hurry and don’t care what comes out as long as it comes out on time,” he says. He takes the cigar out of his mouth and shrugs. “Whadaya gonna do?”

“Where is she? Is she ok? I need her back,” I say, trying not to panic. “I’m writing a book, and then there’s this blog, and I have a school year to think about…”

He points at me with the cigar. “Not to mention you were already interrupted ten times while you were writing this.”

“I know but I can’t neglect my family for my writing. What am I going to do?”

“That’s your problem, sister.”

My mind starts whirring. Maybe I’ll just start staying up all night to write. Yeah, I can do that if I really try. No. The reality is I won’t be able to. I’m a like a grizzly bear on quaaludes when I don’t get enough sleep. Maybe a schedule is the answer. I’ve never been able to stick to one for any length of time yet. But maybe this time…

As I wrestle with the chaos, trying to find a way around, over or just through it, I feel a familiar spark. She’d come back, but only for a visit. Impatience is poison to a muse. But I’m hopeful that as I learn to juggle all that I love without neglecting any of it, my muse will once again make her permanent residence with me.

Do baseball players need a muse?

“There is a muse… He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt work, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you.”

–Stephen King


19 comments on “The Poison of Muses

  1. Thanks for the link! This is funny as hell and interesting. I’ve never even thought of having a muse. I just plant my bum in the chair and hope for the best.


  2. My muse hangs out at Starbucks, most days, somewhere near the bottom of a Caramel Machiatto… Sometimes I have to get the large, with three shots, to jangle him loose. But last week my muse was an 8-year-old girl who seems to notice things I drive by… Often my muse is whatever is bugging my editor. Musery is the ONE place where infidelity usually turns out better…


  3. What a lovely post Dawne! And thanks so much for mentioning me, I’m flattered. Your dialog with the crumpled cigar-smoking dude made me chuckle. My muse has been limping along too. So I can really relate. Piles of stress jammed in my skull so there’s barely room for anything. Today I had lunch with a friend. Imagine that? Was the first time I’ve done anything other than work in probably 2 weeks. I realized I’ve locked myself in work prison and I am my own jailer. If I am ever to write a decent sentence again something must be done. So it’s time to leave out some bread & chocolate for the crazy beasts in my head and let it rip… Um, also? That thing about the schedule? Yeah, I might want to consider that too. 🙂


    • I realized that we’re in the midst of the dog days of summer. I think that is the typical vacation time for muses. Hopefully we’ll both get back on track in the fall.

      In the meantime, good luck with the bread and chocolate. Hope it works. And if you ever figure out the schedule thing, please be sure to let me know how it’s done.

      Thanks for stopping by. I really loved your post!


  4. Love this this post! I think my muse is in the form of Josie Jenkins, the heroine in my first book – when she’s around I hear her voice so strongly – it’s hard to ignore her!! 🙂 But it’s awfully quiet when she goes away…


    • Interesting that your muse is a character from your first book. Is she the muse for your second one? I think it would be very helpful to have the main character be the muse; they would inspire and keep things on the right track.
      Best of luck with the book!


  5. Actually the second book is completely different and Josie doesn’t feature in it at all but because I write the blog in her voice she’s always around in my head. Which makes me sound a bit strange but hopefully you get what I mean! 😉 If she wasn’t my muse, I think that my muse would be more ethereal – like the smell of a good cup of coffee or a wonderful view…


  6. Awesome blog entry! As a writer myself, I know exactly what you mean. My muse is though… Well, I have many muses. It usually just comes to me. Words are often my muse. Random words.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog! You have a new subscriber!

    And my advice is: to write properly, you need alone time, secluded from everything. Stephen King said it best in his book On Writing 🙂


    • Thanks for stopping by and subscribing. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog.

      I just finished On Writing. I loved it. I agree about the alone time to write (so does my muse). It’s a rare commodity in this house 🙂
      Not that I’m complaining because I have a great family. I just need to make some kind of change.


      • Yes, same here. Distractions all the time. Maybe the solution is to make a routine. Say at 9:00 every day you say “I’m going to work. See you at 4:00!” and lock yourself in a room with no cell phones, internet, etc 😉


  7. Yes, I’m thinking that’s the solution. I just have to learn to stick to it 😮


  8. I totally have a similar post in draft stage right now, but I don’t want you to think I’m copying you! A prompt came up to write a “missing” ad and the first thing that came to mind for me was “my freaking muse.” This was great, and to be honest, now I don’t want to post mine!

    And for the record, I think you’re doing fine without her 😉


    • I hate when that happens (you plan a blog, then see the same idea somewhere else).

      This just proves that our muses are on vacation together and sharing ideas.

      I’m glad you liked mine, but I’m sure your spin on it will be very entertaining. I hope you write it.


  9. I love this! I have so many females who follow my twisted antics and they say the most incredible things about my writing, so I MUST be inspired by a muse… I must admit, for a guy who lives debauchery, i have allowed writing to open myself up to grander things such as the real power of loving amazing females… it has empowered me… and in turn maybe empowered my view to give some love to the audience who says so many beautiful things about the bastard pirate who loves to write for them….

    I loved this post!



  10. […] amazing how adept we humans are at shifting the blame. I wanted to blame my muse for the death, after all she went on the lark and came back with lots of fodder for me to use. But […]


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