Ah, the Muse returns or does s/he? Having asked the following authors to describe their inspiration — either in physical appearance or otherwise — you’ll discover their muses are known by many names.
Alicia Bessette (All Come Home coming in August 2010):
“Music is my most influential muse. And absolutely everything inspires me to write. Sunshine, flavors, funerals. Live performances of any kind, overheard conversations. Apple-picking, sitting in a darkened movie theater, running my hand along silk scarves that hang in a clothing store. My next-door neighbor, who sings along to Sonny & Cher at the top of his lungs and leaves carrots and cups of water for the orphaned rabbit living under his back steps … I could go on and on.”
“I love this question, because it reminds me that writers are so diverse in what motivates and inspires them. There is a romantic ideal that presumes we all have muses, but as you know, that’s not always the case–and may not even be the case often. Of all the writers I know, only a few have ever mentioned a personified muse.
“Inspiration, though: we all have that! Mine is based in nature: human nature primarily, and then the natural world. It’s the concert of those two forces that compels me to observe, select, and then set down my stories onto paper.
“When I’m feeling unmotivated, I know I simply need to get outdoors and let my mind relax and become receptive again.”
“My muse…hmmm. I actually joked to a friend a few weeks ago that my Muse was lying in a gutter, bloodied and battered. And then about ten minutes later I came up with a really fun book idea, so so much for badmouthing my Muse! I suppose I’m not very poetic but I’ve never really tried to sense my muse, though I will say that I get inspired and have to stop everything to brainstorm. So I guess my muse sweeps in unannounced, a sort of grande dame who trails perfume and wears gaudy jewelry and dresses in elegant evening gowns even for casual occasions.
“I suppose I am driven to write just as a mathematician is driven to calculate. It’s what I do, what I love and what feels most comfortable. Just as I feel most at-home curled up in sweats with no make-up, I feel right where I belong curled up with my laptop taking what’s been swirling in my head and making it come to life on the page.”
Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances coming in June):
“At first, inspiration comes to me in the form of a thought that doesn’t seem like something I’d come up with on my own. An Idea will flash across my brain, connecting things–bits from an article I’ve read, something I see on TV, a funny quirk my dog develops–in a way I hadn’t thought of before. I’m like a magpie sometimes, collecting shiny new ideas. If I’m on my game when they arrive–which isn’t always; I’ve lost quite a few–I grab my lap top or a pen & paper. When I follow these trails, I’m always amazed by what I have when I’m done.
“After that, the inspiration comes from stubbornness: I want to finish what I’ve started. No one wants to publish my strange assortment of unrelated paragraphs, so I have to connect the dots.
“I’m pretty spiritual, so I pray a lot when I write. But it’s not one of those things where God tells me what to type. It’s more that I ask Him for more ideas, and to keep me from writing something I’ll regret later. So far, my books have been non-fiction, which means I’m writing about other people who probably don’t have a public venue to tell their side of the story. So I pray for help being fair, and to add humor when my first tendency is to be sarcastic. I wrote my first book before Facebook and Twitter were so popular–now that I’m reconnecting with people I knew in high school, college, law school, etc. (and even one ex-boyfriend I wrote about in the book) I’m REALLY glad I didn’t publish my first draft!”
“I abide by Barbara Samuel’s girls-in-the-basement philosophy: There are many muses, and each has a different personality and inspires in a different way; some are wise, some crafty or poetic or bitchy. I love them all.”