I’m not talking about the classical Greek muses. There were nine of them, plenty to go around. Daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, they were raised by the god Apollo and the nymph Eufime. They grew up to become the sources of inspiration for literature, science, and the arts. Over time, each muse was assigned her very own sphere of influence: Calliope inspired epic poetry; Clio, history; Euterpe, song and lyric poetry; Melpomene, tragedy; Polyhymnia, hymns and sacred poetry; Terpsichore, dance; Thalia, comedy and pastoral poetry; and Urania, astronomy.
These lovely ladies were considered more than mere inspiration. They were the personification of knowledge and the arts, invoked by authors as renowned as Homer, Virgil, Chaucer, and Shakespeare for help with the creative process.
The fact that I don’t believe in this personification of inspiration stems largely from self-interest. These nine young things who longed to dedicate their lives to the arts are not the muses I would get. I would get Diversus, the muse who jumps up in the middle of a particularly thorny section of a manuscript in order to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Or maybe I’d get Prolato who, bored by the dialogue she herself just handed her characters, suddenly notices that there is a basket of laundry that must be folded right this very minute. My personified muses would be into distraction and procrastination. And, why not? They’re goddesses. They have eternity to figure out how to foreshadow the brand new plot point that just occurred to me on page 200.
I, however, do not have that luxury of time. I need to step it up a little.
The muse I believe in is not personified at all. It’s a state of being, a point where the Greek chorus that lives in my head finally shuts up and lets me simply record the scene I see unfolding in my mind. Shielded from fear of failure, I can sense that what I’m writing is right–in need of editing, to be sure, but fundamentally laying the bones for a story that only I can tell. This muse supplies the light and space to create without self-imposed boundaries, and that’s exhilarating.
I’m hoping the muse will help with this blog. I have stories to share, including some fun Newport-related posts a little closer to NEWPORT’s July 7th publication date. I could really use a muse … but I need the heart-based one who piques my interest and opens me to possibilities, not the one who just whispered in my ear that there is chocolate in the freezer.